Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan apologized on behalf of the state for the Alevis killed in the Dersim incidents. Head of the main opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu who is from Dersim found the apology inadequate and asked Erdoğan to open the “state archives” and “return the lands of those who were exiled.” A search has started within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to change the name of the Tunceli city back to its original name of Dersim which was changed in 1935.
Alevis in the AKPHead of the Agriculture Commission, AKP deputy from Istanbul, İbrahim Yiğit has Alevi origins. One of the architects of the Alevi initiative, Yiğit is in fact one of the Dersim families.
Another AKP deputy Mehmet Metiner had proposed that Tunceli’s name should be “Dersim.” Yiğit said this proposal was not new and they had debated it internally in the previous term: “We had long debates on a Dersim proposal. But Dersim is a name given to a larger geography. It covers Tunceli, Elazığ, Bingöl and a portion of Erzincan. We discussed giving the name of a large region to our tiniest province of Tunceli but we could not reach consensus.”
Obviously, the AKP has debated changing the name of Tunceli, while the Alevi initiative was continuing. But it was put on dusty shelves together with the initiative. Well, can the AKP today give the name Dersim to Tunceli? Can it say “Yes” to such a proposal? İbrahim Yiğit said without hesitation, “It was pleasant that an apology was made on behalf of the state. I think the name Dersim should also be given. Tunceli people want it. Why not?”
There are similar demands such as opening of the Dersim archives, disclosure of the grave site of one of the Dersim leaders Seyit Rıza and a museum to be set up in Tunceli. I have asked Yiğit and he has a stance of “there is no harm in erecting a monument in Tunceli.”
I understand the debate that was left unfinished is now alive within the AKP. There are those within the party that agree to “name Tunceli, Dersim,” and those who oppose by arguing “it will set an example and Kurds would demand that Diyarbakır is called Amed.” İbrahim Yiğit complains, “While defending Dersim, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay opposes. But the other Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç supports Yiğit and friends.”
When Yiğit and friends develop and bring the proposal to maturity, it will be Erdoğan who will have the last say. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu from Dersim is known that he will not say “No” to such a proposal.
If the political fight of the two parties slightly opens the door to re-naming Tunceli, Dersim, I assume it will be those deputies of Alevi origin in both parties who will be most happy.
Amendments on the way to help 'child brides'
One of the most important problems in Turkey is the marriage of girls at an age when they are still children. Unfortunately, the country’s justice system allows this to happen. According to the Civil Code, girls who are under 17 are considered children, according to the Penal Code, this age is 15, while according to the Child Protection Law, this figure is under 18. It is a major contradiction that there are three different ages defining children in three different laws. Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin is conducting a legislation review on the matter. Following this, a proposal for an amendment in the relevant laws will be sent to Parliament. The efforts have provided a ray of hope for child brides.
Balkan body awaits approval of Davutoğlu
For the first time in the history of the Turkish Parliament, there has been an initiative to form a Balkan Parliamentarian Assembly (BALPA). Justice and Development (AKP) İzmir deputy Rifat Sait, who has Balkan roots, has submitted the file. The file has been sent to the Foreign Ministry and is waiting for Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s approval. If approved, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia would convene for the founding meeting of BALPA in İzmir. “There are 45 Turkish-origin deputies in the region with 35 in Bulgaria, four in Kosovo, and two each in Greece, Romania and Macedonia. The aim is to elevate friendship,” Sait said.