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from Turkey. Unlike the gathering in Shiroka
Polyana, traditional wrestling games are held in
Karamantsi, which stirs additional interest and
practically occupy the entire afternoonprogram
of the holiday. The period before lunch-time is
dedicated to the festive concert, preceded by
a solemn opening ceremony with speeches by
representatives of DPS and its youth branch,
of the village mayor and of officials from the
local and regional governments (Photo 2).
The festive program involves performances
of children’s and youths’ dancing, singing
and drama groups from schools and cultural
centers of the region (Photo 3). After the end
of this festive part, a wrestling contest is held
for participants of all ages (Photo 4). In 2009 –
as the press reported – the competitors in the
wrestling competition wore T-shirts with a title
“The Baptizing” [
], which were
given to them by DPS and indicated the 25
anniversary after the “May Events,” in which half
of the people of the village were taken to the
police, and ten people, who attempted to flee
to the forest, were sentenced and sent to prison
for several years. References to these events are
raised explicitly during the official part of the meeting and most of them are interpreted through
the lens of party propaganda and the proclamation of party unity.
In fact, many of these commemorative meetings are a convenient occasion for political
propaganda and for affirming political authority – both in larger festive gatherings as the one
near Demir Baba Tekke, and in small scale meetings of mostly local and regional character. The
carrying out of such celebrations is largely determined by the possibility to utilize them as a
political platform by the leaders of DPS and as a means to mobilize the Turkish population in
its support. The rhetoric of the “Revival” process and of the “danger” of its repetition emerges in
most commemorative meetings in recent years and forms the core of the political proclamations
that are delivered during their official parts. This rhetoric was particularly well outlined in 2011,
when a major issue for DPS was the split between the supporters of the leader Ahmed Dogan
and of the person who was expelled from the party – Kasim Dal. In some cases (as in Djebel,
for example), this split led to overt clashes between the two supporters’ groups and to the need
of police intervention. Some of the activities in 2011 for commemorating the “Revival” process
included also parallel presentations by the two wings in DPS which provided the grounds for
Photo 4.
Commemorative meeting, Karamantsi – traditional
wrestling games (2011, N. Vukov)
Photo 3.
Commemorative meeting, Karamantsi – festive
concert (2011, N. Vukov)