All of us, not just the Prime Minister, should apologize for Dersim

All of us, not just the Prime Minister, should apologize for Dersim

While I was listening to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday, I wanted to once more curl up and die. I knew beforehand all of what he explained and the details of the incident, but listening to what had happened with Erdoğan’s words multiplied my shame.

Dersim is the bloodiest and bitterest incident of our recent past. We have “jammed our citizens of Kurdish origin in caves and gassed them like rats.” We have killed and driven out thousands of them.

The essence of the prime minister’s speech was blaming the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP). I do not want to approach the incident only from the point of view of “who is responsible?”

Dersim is a chapter to be ashamed of in our history.

We should not be hiding behind justifications such as calling the incident “the survival war of a newly-founded republic,” or “punishment of those who had rebelled against our republic” or “the era of a single party.” Let us not forget, no matter who has acted for whatever reasons, Dersim is the responsibility of all of us.

The prime minister has apologized to the Dersim people on behalf of the state of the Republic of Turkey. He did what was correct. He did what needed to be done.

But it is not enough; the Dersim crime belongs to all of us. The reason it was covered up for so many years was because several other powers outside the state closed their eyes on it. A significant portion of the media has been silent or has been made silent. Universities and parties have turned their backs. The cries of our citizens of Kurdish origin went unheard for years.

Now the situation is changing. Even though it is stemming from a CHP-AKP (Justice and Development Party) conflict, the prime minister has opened Pandora’s Box. The jinn of Dersim have started wandering among us. We cannot, from now on, bury our heads in the sand. We cannot just blame only the CHP or the single party era and hide behind excuses about the conditions of the era.

Parliament should set up an investigation committee. We should not be content with only the prime minister’s apology. We should both share with the public what has been experienced in detail and also take those necessary steps to rid this shame.

Changing the names of barracks was a correct decision

This subject was being discussed for years. Naming some of the military posts around the country after some commanders was creating reactions, especially among the Kurdish and Alevi segments of society. Naming a post in Van after Mustafa Muğlalı was especially considered to be an intimidation of citizens of Kurdish origin because this commander was accused of executing by firing squad 33 Kurds in Van in 1943. This incident where 32 died and one survived has been vigorously discussed. Kurdish circles believed the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), by naming this post after Muğlalı, had given the message of “It can happen to you, too.”

The General Staff, beginning with the Van post, has changed the names of 65 military posts. Instead of commanders, names of martyrs were given.

This was such a correct decision. Turkey is changing now. The TSK should have adapted to this change, and now realistic steps have been taken. A country’s armed forces need not give such messages to the public. Also, if sensitivity exists, it is so much better to act to eliminate the offensive.

Conscientious objector issue stirred up once again

When the prime minister said “The topic of conscientious objector is not in our agenda” on Tuesday, everything got entangled, whereas up until that point we were praising Turkey on how civilized it has become.

The first piece of news had come from Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin when he said an arrangement was being made for conscientious objectors. Then the defense minister confused us by saying a study was being done to prevent Turkey from being constantly punished by the European Court of Human Rights for this practice. He meant that conscientious objectors would not be accepted but their punishments were to be alleviated. Now the prime minister has said there was no such preparation.

There is either openly a misunderstanding, or a preparation was stopped by the prime minister. Maybe it was thought that while the paid exemption from military service was being announced the other matter of conscientious objectors should not be squeezed in, right?

Obviously, there has been some confusion. Well, why? Who is responsible?