‘All parties responsible for killings in Dersim’

Former leader of Turkey’s Democrat Party, lawyer Hüsamettin Cindoruk comments on the ongoing Dersim killings debate and says what happened in Dersim in 1938 was “absolute injustice” and “tyranny”

Political responsibility for the Dersim killings of 1938 belongs to all parties, according to the former leader of the Democrat Party (DP), Hüsamettin Cindoruk.

What happened in Dersim was “absolute injustice” and “tyranny,” said Cindoruk, who acted as a lawyer for former President and Prime Minister Celal Bayar, a politician who was heavily involved in the Dersim operation.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) was the party in power at the time but it included other politicians who later became key figures for the country’s right-wing political movement, he added.

Adnan Menderes, who was later elected as prime minister from the right-wing DP, was also a CHP deputy at the time, Cindoruk said.

There were many deputies in the CHP during the period which later ran for the DP. “If there is political responsibility there, it belongs to all,” he said.

Cindoruk reported that according to Bayar, the Republic had extended sovereignty over the entire country, except Dersim where the local power-brokers had successfully stymied attempts at centralization.

“Neither the police nor the gendarmerie could enter the province or collect taxes from there. Its geography was highly suitable for this type of resistance. We issued many warnings and legislated laws to overcome this, but to no avail.

[Republican founder Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk finally told us to attack, so we did,” Bayar is alleged to have said.

‘No opposition at the time’

When asked if İsmet İnönü or Bayar had opposed the stern methods used in dealing with the problem, Cindoruk said there was no opposition at the time and that Dersim was subsequently everyone’s responsibility.

The Dersim issue has dominated Turkey’s agenda for several days, especially after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan apologized for the killings last week. Erdoğan further blamed the then-ruling CHP – and, by extension, the present incarnation – for the killings. In the past, the prime minister has also posited his party as an ideological successor to Menderes’ DP.

Cindoruk questioned Erdoğan’s choice of timing on addressing the issue of the killings, saying he had used the matter for political gain against CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, an Alevi from Dersim, which is now known as Tunceli.

The former DP leader also said the apology could produced further ramifications since members of the Armenian diaspora might now for some redress for the killings of 1915. There will be financial implications as insurance firms from the United States start “demanding insurmountable sums,” he added.