CHP's Güler under fire for racism, fellow deputy resigns in protest

CHP deputy Birgül Ayman Güler speaks during a press conference at CHP headquarters in Ankara. (Photo: AA)

January 24, 2013, Thursday/ 00:00:00

A deputy from the Republican People's Party (CHP) has resigned from his position in protest against remarks of a fellow party official who said people of Kurdish origin cannot be equal to Turkish people.

In a written statement released on Thursday, CHP Adıyaman deputy Salih Fırat, Kurdish, said he had resigned from the party on account of a speech made by CHP İzmir deputy Birgül Ayman Güler at a meeting in Parliament on Wednesday.

“The Kurdish nation cannot be equal to the Turkish nation,” Güler said, addressing the lawmakers who convened to discuss a law to allow suspects to use their mother tongue in court when delivering defense statements.

“There is no Kurdish conflict in Turkey,” Güler further stated. Many deputies from the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) were seen applauding Güler's speech.

Güler became the target of criticism over her racist remarks following the parliamentary meeting, with many lawmakers from the CHP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) condemning her comments.

AK Party deputy Galip Ensarioğlu blasted Güler's remarks as “grave,” saying he wouldn't expect such “fascist” thoughts from a party which describes itself as a social democratic party on the left. Ensarioğlu also said he was appalled to see those from the CHP and MHP applauding Güler's speech.

Mustafa Destici, the leader of the nationalist Grand Unity Party (BBP), also said he cannot accept derogatory remarks from Güler even though his party has major differences with the government on how to solve terror problem.

Altan Tan, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), said the CHP deputy's comment was a betrayal of not only the Kurdish people but also of all people living in Turkey.

MHP deputy Mehmet Şandır, on the other hand, said Güler's comments are not racist.

“It is those who visit İmralı [where the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) leader is jailed] and those who recognize the Kurdish ethnicity that should be accused of racism,” Şandır said.

Fırat, 52, is medical doctor by profession. He is member of the parliamentary commission investigating the Dec. 28, 2011 airstrike on Uludere, a district of Şırnak, that left 34 Kurdish civilians dead. Fırat has been an outspoken critic of the government on Kurdish issue, defending Kurdish rights for education and defense in mother's tongue.

Fırat also supported hunger strikes across prisons in Turkey launched by the terrorist PKK last year and attributed the strikes to the non-resolution of the Kurdish problem in Turkey.

With his reassignment, CHP's number of seats at Parliament dropped to 134, while seats of independents increased to seven.

In the meantime, CHP Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin said the resignation will not be accepted. Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Tekin said he and several other CHP deputies spoke with Fırat to convince him to change his decision. Tekin also said Fırat will travel to Ankara and meet with Kılıçdaroğlu to discuss the matter.

In addition, CHP Chairman Kılıçdaroğlu has vehemently criticized Güler's statements, deeming the comments discriminatory. Speaking to reporters in the central province of Kayseri on Thursday, Kılıçdaroğlu dismissed Güler's approach in what seemed an open effort to cool down an internal crisis that is dividing the main opposition party. He said his fellow party members should endorse union and solidarity, and should not express discrimination.

Kılıçdaroğlu said Güler's remarks were unacceptable and nobody should try to exclude a certain ethnic identity in the country.

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