ISTANBUL - TDN with wire dispatches
A kebab restaurant on the basement floor of the Madımak Hotel, which was the scene of the massacre of 37 primarily Alevis and intellectuals, will be closed down until the next anniversary of the event, said Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay.
Günay called daily Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan on his column on Thursday, in which the journalist said, �Shame on our humanity,� in reference to the fact that the hotel has not yet become a museum and that the kebab restaurant is still open there.
The culture minister, for the first time, gave a definite date to shut down the restaurant there, reported Hürriyet. �I promise that this kebab restaurant will not be there next July 2,� the minister said. He has been trying to close down the restaurant and turn the hotel into a museum from the first day of his ministry, Günay told the daily, adding there were some impediments to expropriation. �When expropriation became a subject, the prices were increased. Currently we are trying to overcome this,� Günay said.
Günay told the daily that a flower shop or bookstore could be opened instead of the restaurant. The culture minister highlighted the negligence of 15 years, saying no one did anything about the issue for all that time. �You give 15 years to others. Give me 15 months. This is all I want,� he said.
�I will give the keys'
The owner of the restaurant, Sebati Manav, said he would hand in the keys of the restaurant if his grievances were addressed, the Doğan news agency reported. However, the efforts of Alevi organizations and some politicians to turn the hotel into a museum will create a new Alevi-Sunni conflict, so it is better to simply forget the event, he said. Sivas people will not demand the hotel to be a museum as well, according to Manav. �People of Sivas, in which the grounds of the Republic were settled will not agree to turn a black spot like that into a monument,� he said.
On July 2, 1993 Islamic fundamentalists burned the hotel in the central Anatolian province of Sivas to the ground with intellectuals who came to the city for the Pir Sultan Abdal Festival inside. A total 37 people, including two hotel workers and two of those responsible for burning the hotel, died, as they burned or were poisoned with the smoke.