Seyid Riza was born to a no man’s land of windling valleys and tiny upland plains

Seyit Riza was born to a no man’s land of windling valleys and tiny upland plains, with its connection to Euphrates. In Dersim, little clans of Kurds and Zazas lived, in pastoral times, secluded from the arms of Ottoman authority.

Strike through the waters of Kutu Dere, through the fertile but unleveled plains of the Munzur, Seyit Riza found himself born to a life of Kurdish Alevi family in Lirtik village of Dersim, in year1863. He was born as son of Seyit Ibrahim.

His people and he himself knew no law other than the law of his own tribe and clan. At his time, every one carried a gun, no one paid taxes, and there was strict code of conduct with regards to allegiance to the laws of their own tribe. As I said, everyone carried a gun; it was either a flintlock or a Martini.  Sheiks were safe from Ottoman attacks; they were safe from the attacks of the young Turkish Republic.

Traditions of Dersim resembled the Scotsland of the 13th century, it was wild, impenetrable, cold, harsh, surrounded with mountains, and strong mountain people.

Kurdish language and the geographic distribution of its dialects were always puzzling and amusing. Even though it was very close to the Persian languages, it was always believed that Kurdish language and especially Zaza language had its own character and it was an independent language.

Many people were confused concerning the origins of Zaza language, many people and travelers that were spoken to be associating this mother tongue of Seyit Riza with Persian language. However, Seyit Riza knew very well that even though Zaza language had some similarities it also had its own identity, and it was different from many other Kurdish dialects.

Seyit Riza’s sense of community, stress of service to his people, and his prayers in the form of songs and music helped him to cleanse the souls of millions. He was a pure man. He would attend the weekly ceremonies and would often find strength and freedom in these. He was significant leader of the Dersim community and represented a significant amount of people in the early years of the Turkish Republic.


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