Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s apology over the 1938 killings in Dersim stirred fresh polemic in Parliament yesterday, drawing both condemnation and calls for more action to face up to controversial episodes in history.
Slamming the apology as a “scandal,” Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli defended the brutal military campaign on Dersim, now Tunceli, and likened the victims to modern-day Kurdish militants.The Dersim rebellion “was part of a process to overthrow the government and destroy the young Republic. The authorities at the time did what their responsibilities required,” Bahçeli said at his party’s parliamentary group meeting.
Bahçeli denounced both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for the heated debate over Dersim, charging that they set an example of “irresponsibility and unscrupulousness.”
Erdoğan extended the apology last week as part of a harsh-worded tirade against the CHP, which he holds responsible for the Dersim massacres that occurred when Turkey was ruled by a single-party regime.
BDP likens Dersim massacre to KCK raids
Speaking at his party’s parliamentary meeting yesterday, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş questioned Erdoğan’s sincerity and said an apology should be offered in Parliament after an inquiry commission investigates the massacres.
“We are not looking down on the prime minister’s apology, but it is not up to the government to apologize,” said Demirtaş, calling for a “commission of truth” to also look into other bloody episodes such as the 1925 Kurdish rebellion led by Şeyh Sait.
“The mentality of those who perpetrated the Dersim killings is no different from the mentality of those who are conducting the KCK [Kurdish Communities Union] operations today,” Demirtaş said. The illegal KCK is the alleged urban network of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has landed hundreds of Kurds in jail.
“You may have arrested 5,000 KCK members, but you created millions of members outside. We will resist until we win,” he said. Demirtaş announced a BDP rally in Diyarbakır on Dec. 3 to denounce the KCK operations.