Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said recent statements of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about the Dersim massacre of 1938 would lead to an “internal conflict” within Turkey.
“The prime minister uses faith-based discrimination in his statements, which is very dangerous. These statements plant the seeds of hate in society. If Erdoğan maintains this attitude, Turkey may quickly come to the point of internal conflict,” Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), told reporters before attending a session of leaders under the convention of the Party of European Socialists (PES) in Brussels on Saturday.Prime Minister Erdoğan’s apology for killings in the military operation in 1938 against a rebellion in the eastern province of Dersim, now Tunceli, and accusations against the CHP enflamed a stormy debate between the government and the CHP. Erdoğan had insisted the CHP, which ruled Turkey under a single-party regime at that time, was responsible for killings and should also apologize.
Kılıçdaroğlu also referred to Erdoğan’s saying in an Oct. 23 speech that it was the Alevi judges who sentenced him to imprisonment for reciting a poem. “While apologizing for Dersim, he inflames faith discrimination. Then we should ask why this is a contradiction,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
The CHP leader said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was not sincere on the Dersim issue and Erdoğan’s statements were a political maneuver. He described the AKP’s attitude as “hypocritical” and indicated that a documentary about the killings in the Dersim operation was banned by the Ministry of Culture in 2007.
Kılıçdaroğlu said it should be the president, not the prime minister, who apologized for the Dersim killings. “If there would be an apology, it should be the state, not the CHP. The prime minister said ‘I apologize on behalf of the state,’ but he is the head of the government, not the state. The president should apologize,” he said.
The CHP leader stressed that Turkey debated an “artificial agenda.” Turkey was discussing Dersim instead of the earthquake that hit the eastern province of Van last month and the problems in the economy, he said.
Quarrel with Norwegian minister
During the session of leaders under the convention of PES, Norwegian Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide hailed Turkey under the AKP rule and asked “Can Turkey be the role model of the Arab Spring?”
Emphasizing jailed journalists and restrictions on freedom of speech in Turkey, Kılıçdaroğlu said in response: “Arab people demand democratic countries, they aspire to be like Turkish people. However, our ruling politicians aspire to be Arab administrators. We wish to be a role-model as a democratic, libertarian country where the media writes freely. But Turkey is far from being a role model under its current political circumstances.”
Meanwhile, the government seniors were quick to slam the CHP leader over his statements in Brussels. EU Minister Egemen Bağış accused Kılıçdaroğlu of complaining of his country through misinformation. Minister of Culture Ertuğrul Günay said Kılıçdaroğlu becoming a politician denigrated his country abroad.
In a related development, Kılıçdaroğlu announced the CHP and PES would issue a joint declaration on Turkey’s EU accession process and democracy and freedom demands in Turkey.