Main opposition seeks to contain Dersim row

Main opposition seeks to contain Dersim row

Main opposition seeks to contain Dersim row

This file photo shows Gürsel Tekin (R), deputy leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, whispering to party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu at a meeting. AA photo

Senior members of Turkey’s main opposition party urged fellow lawmakers yesterday to stop public discussion on internal matters in an effort to contain an intra-party row over the party’s role in the Dersim mass killings of 1938.

“We should not discuss our internal problems publicly. No one should abuse the tolerance of our leader,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chairman Gürsel Tekin said.

“We have created all necessary democratic mechanisms so everyone can express their thoughts at closed group meetings, but I cannot accept the discussion of these issues with the media. I know our chairman thinks the same,” he said.

CHP deputy group chairman Akif Hamzaçebi made a similar appeal.

Tensions flared within the CHP earlier this week when 12 lawmakers made a public statement urging chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to initiate disciplinary procedures against fellow deputy Hüseyin Aygün, who told a pro-government daily: “The state and the CHP were responsible for the [Dersim] massacres and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was aware of them.” Aygün was referring to military operations in 1937 and 1938 to quash a rebellion in Dersim, in which thousands of Alevis were killed.

Aygün is a deputy for Tunceli, the name Dersim was given after the operation. Kılıçdaroğlu is also from the eastern province.

In further remarks yesterday, Tekin highlighted the government’s plan to introduce paid military service, a CHP election pledge in the June polls that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had criticized at the time.

“The prime minister and ruling party officials criticized the CHP, asking ‘How can that be? Who will protect the country?’ Well, we now see that the prime minister is bringing to life all of the CHP’s projects step by step,” he said.

Hamzaçebi, for his part, lashed out at Erdoğan over remarks this week in which he dismissed a declaration the CHP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) signed in July before the CHP ended a parliamentary boycott over deputies who remain in jail.

“The goal of the text was to create the necessary atmosphere in Turkey to overcome the issue of jailed deputies. But we can see that the prime minister’s understanding of politics is to deny what he said yesterday,” said Hamzaçebi.