Turkey’s main opposition leader charged that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rhetoric over the 1938 Dersim massacres amounted to preaching “hatred and animosity” among the people and urged him to return to the country’s real problems of poverty and unemployment.
Speaking at the Republican People’s Party (CHP) parliamentary group meeting yesterday, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu dismissed Erdoğan’s apology over the massacres as a political maneuver to divert attention from the suffering of the earthquake victims in Van.“Look at his speech again. You will find there nothing but animosity, hatred and feelings of vengeance. This is not how a state apologizes. A state apologizes by healing the wounds, embracing the citizens and not repeating the same mistakes,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “If you [Erdoğan] cared about what happened in Dersim, you would have not treated the people of Dersim as second-class citizens. You do not worry about Dersim; you have intentions to settle scores with the Republic.”
Kılıçdaroğlu renewed a proposal to set up a parliamentary commission to conduct an inquiry into the killings in Dersim, now Tunceli. While offering an apology last week, Erdoğan blamed the massacres on the CHP and urged Kılıçdaroğlu, himself an Alevi from Tunceli, to face up to the CHP’s single-party rule in the earlier years of the Republic.
The CHP leader dismissed Erdoğan’s calls for him to reveal his ethnic and religious identity. “We are not interested in people’s ethnic roots, their faiths or sects. My mission is not to divide the people but to unite them.”
In fresh criticism over the controversial legal cases into alleged anti-government plots, Kılıçdaroğlu stressed that journalist Mustafa Balbay, elected to Parliament in June as CHP deputy, would mark his 1,000th day in prison today. He called on party supporters to stage a “silent protest” by laying carnations at the Republican Tree monument in İzmir, Balbay’s hometown.
Kılıçdaroğlu warned that he would from now on “expose” judges and prosecutors “who have put themselves under the command of the government.”