Kurdish row shakes main opposition CHP

Kurdish row shakes main opposition CHP

Kurdish row shakes main opposition CHP

CHP Adıyaman lawmaker Salih Fırat has resigned from his party.

Turkey’s restive main opposition party was hit by more turmoil after a hardliner deputy said she does not consider the “Turkish nation” and “Kurdish nationality” to be equal, causing a Kurdish lawmaker to resign from the party.

Birgül Ayman Güler, İzmir lawmaker of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), argued with her colleagues from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) during parliamentary discussions of the draft law extending the scope of mother-tongue defense in courts.

“You cannot depict Kurdish nationalism as ‘progressive’ and ‘independent,’” she said, “You cannot make me consider the Turkish nation and Kurdish nationality as equal.”

Following Güler’s remarks, CHP Adıyaman lawmaker Salih Fırat announced his “necessary” resignation from his party. Güler’s statements were one of the reasons behind Fırat’s resignation, Anatolia news agency reported.

Fırat’s surprise resignation shocked the party administration, which promptly endeavored to convince him to withdraw his decision. After sending his petition for resignation to the Parliament Speaker’s office, the CHP headquarters and CHP’s Parliamentary Group, Fırat shared the petition with the press.

CHP officials reportedly requested that the Parliament Speaker’s office reject Fırat’s resignation. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu will meet with Fırat and ask him to withdraw his resignation, CHP deputy chair Gürsel Tekin told reporters. CHP deputy chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu and CHP Tunceli lawmaker Hüseyin Aygün met with Fırat in an attempt to convince him to abandon resignation, party sources told the Daily News.

Kılıçdaroğlu learned of Fırat’s resignation in Ankara at the commemoration ceremony of late journalist Uğur Mumcu. Speaking to reporters in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri later in the day, Kılıçdraroğlu tacitly criticized Güler, saying it is unacceptable to consider any ethnic identity second-class citizens.

“We as the CHP are against pursuing politics based on ethnic identity. We esteem all citizens in this country very highly. It’s unacceptable to pursue politics based on ethnic identity or to consider any ethnic identity as second-class citizens,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also denounced Güler, describing her statements as “an example of a racist approach.”

CHP deputy parliamentary group chair Akif Hamzaçebi said Güler’s statements do not reflect the CHP’s official policies. “In democracies, there cannot be any discrimination based on people’s origins. All citizens of the Republic of Turkey have equal rights,” Hamzaçeli told reporters in Parliament.

Speaking at the General Assembly, Hamzaçebi later said the CHP cannot accept any approach related to racism. “Associating the CHP with racism is inadmissible.”

In the wake of Fırat’s resignation, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Adıyaman lawmaker Mehmet Metiner invited Fırat to join the AKP instead.

In contrast to many of his party members, CHP Istanbul deputy Süheyl Batum lent his support to Güler, saying she “voiced the common view of many people” in her speech. “Nobody should attempt to deceive us. Ethnic nationalism cannot be depicted as progressive,” Batum said.