Erdoğan aims to destroy Atatürk’s legacy: CHP

Erdoğan aims to destroy Atatürk’s legacy: CHP

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Erdoğan aims to destroy Atatürk’s legacy: CHP

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu addresses his party’s lawmakers at a group meeting. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s active involvement in a debate over the 1938 Dersim killings is a reflection of his underlying intention to discredit the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey’s main opposition leader has said.

“Your intention is to settle scores with Atatürk, to dispose of the Republic. We are aware of that,” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said yesterday at the parliamentary group meeting of his Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Kılıçdaroğlu spoke shortly after Erdoğan said he would today disclose documents exposing the CHP’s role in a military crackdown on a 1938 Alevi rebellion in Dersim, now Tunceli, in which thousands perished.

Erdoğan challenged Kılıçdaroğlu, himself an Alevi from Tunceli, to face up to his party’s responsibility for the killings which took place at a time when the CHP ruled Turkey in a single-party regime.

“It’s a golden opportunity for the CHP to face up to the Dersim tragedy as its chairman is a tribe member from Tunceli. You’re from Tunceli, why do you shy away?” Erdoğan said.

In an unusually emotional outburst, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “Yes, I’m from Dersim, and I am a son of this nation. Now, I’m the chairman of the CHP and I am proud of it. God willing, I will also be prime minister soon.”

Denouncing Erdoğan’s rhetoric as “provocative and divisive,” the CHP leader ridiculed his advocacy of the people of Tunceli, a province where the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has never won a parliamentary seat.

“You cannot be the mouthpiece of the people who suffered in Dersim. The people of Dersim would consider your advocacy an insult,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

He said the CHP had nothing to be ashamed of in its past, while accusing Erdoğan of being an heir to those who opposed Atatürk’s quest for independence after World War I but favored instead a British or U.S. mandate.

“Yesterday you were advocates of a mandate and today you are sub-contractors,” he said, echoing his earlier accusations that the AKP’s foreign policy was dictated by Washington.

Kılıçdaroğlu chided the 12 lawmakers who issued a joint declaration last week against Hüseyin Aygün, the CHP’s Tunceli deputy who re-ignited the debate over Dersim and stirred intra-party tensions with remarks asserting that the CHP was responsible for the killings.

“You may harm me, but you cannot harm the CHP, I will not allow this to happen,” he said.

Erdoğan dismissed Kılıçdaroğlu’s suggestion that incumbent prime ministers should apologize for past atrocities on behalf of the Turkish state.