Dersim apology opens rift in main opposition CHP

Dersim apology opens rift in main opposition CHP

Dersim apology opens rift in main opposition CHP

DHA photo

An apology voiced for the 1938 massacre in Dersim by a deputy chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) looks set to lead to more internal turmoil within the party, with one of its hardline deputies complaining that Deputy Chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu’s statement resembled the words of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

CHP Uşak deputy Dilek Akagün Yılmaz said there was “no difference” between the “rebellion” led by Seyid Rıza in Dersim at the time and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) modern-day attempt to rebel against the state with terrorist activities.

“For Tanrıkulu, it is neither his right nor his place to offer such an apology. Sezgin Tanrıkulu is acting like a HDP representative. Such an apology has no meaning,” Yılmaz said on Nov. 14.

In Dersim, now known as Tunceli, over 13,000 people were killed during a military operation to quash an apparent Kurdish tribal rebellion during the CHP’s single-party rule. Seyid Rıza, the leader of the movement in Dersim, was executed in 1937.

Late on Nov. 13, during a General Assembly session at Parliament, the same issue sparked a heated debate among deputies of the CHP, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the HDP.

In response to MHP Isparta deputy Nevzat Korkmaz, who criticized Tanrıkulu’s statement and asked whether it represented an “institutional statement” from the CHP, CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Engin Altay described what happened in Dersim as “unacceptable and inhuman.”

“However, the authority to apologize to the people of Dersim for these incidents is not the CHP. What led to those grievances was the state of the Republic of Turkey, and a mistake was made,” Altay added.

“At the very most, Sezgin Tanrıkulu must have apologized on behalf of himself, because no political party needs to apologize. It is the state that must apologize,” he also said.

Meanwhile, HDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair İdris Baluken stressed that his party had tabled numerous motions asking for a parliamentary inquiry into Dersim.

“Let’s all together, as the Parliament, investigate. Let’s pave the way to confront history. There was no rebellion, no uprising in Dersim. There was an open massacre; what happened was a systematic genocide,” Baluken said.