Names of university, district changed as promised by Turkish government
DHA PhotoParliament’s General Assembly has adopted a bill changing the names of a university and a district as part of a recently announced democratization package by the government.
According to a bill adopted late on Oct. 30, the name of Nevşehir University has been changed to “Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli University,” while the name of Aydınlar district in the eastern province of Siirt has been changed to Tillo, its former name. Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli is as an esteemed figure for the Alevi community.
Though favoring the bill, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) labeled the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) move as insincere during debates at the General Assembly on Oct. 30.
“If you were sincere, you would restore the names of over 30,000 districts and villages which were changed during 1940s and after 1980,” the BDP’s Sırrı Sakık said. “[Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] apologized for the Dersim [massacre of 1938], but there’s no proposal for restoring the name of Dersim [now Tunceli].”
The BDP’s Hasip Kaplan, for his part, lamented that he proposed a bill to change over 30 district names, including Tillo, three years ago. The bill, however, was not even submitted to a parliamentary commission.
Several main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers objected to the return of the name Tillo during debates in a parliamentary commission. However, speaking on behalf of the CHP’s parliamentary group at the General Assembly, the CHP’s Metin Lütfü Baydar said his party did not have any objections to such a change. Baydar said the CHP proposed a bill to restore Tillo’s name in 2012 but that it was not taken into consideration by the AKP at that time.
Both changes were previously announced by Erdoğan on Sept. 30 and submitted to the Parliament on Oct. 9 by the AKP’s parliamentary group.
While Alevis had been expecting the democratization package to extend new rights to them, particularly the recognition of cemevis as houses of worship, many suggested that changing the name of Nevşehir University was mere window-dressing. Groups from the community had also not previously expressed any demands that the school’s name be altered.