Speaking during his party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Bahçeli said there is no disgrace in the history of Turkey and that revisiting the past's “national issues” will benefit no one, criticizing both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) for opening up the 1937 Dersim massacre to debate again.
Although the MHP leader said his party would not join the ongoing war of words between the two leaders, he said what happened in Dersim should be defined. “The Dersim incidents should be well defined. Historians, not politicians, should discuss it. The Dersim incident is not a massacre, as defined by the prime minister, but a rebellion. The prime minister should retract his apology [for Dersim] and instead apologize for his slander about a massacre. Dersim was an attempted rebellion. Those who started the Dersim rebellion are those who are involved in today's [Kurdistan Workers' Party] PKK and [Kurdish Communities Union] KCK,” Bahçeli argued.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have been exchanging words over the Dersim massacre for a couple of weeks. Erdoğan apologized on Wednesday for the Dersim massacre on behalf of the Turkish state, but accused the CHP of being the actual culprit and called on the party to offer an apology as well. Kılıçdaroğlu, on the other hand, would not offer an apology and called on the government to release documents from the state archives that pertain to Dersim.
The much-debated Dersim massacre concerns the deaths of tens of thousands of Alevis at the hands of the military in 1937. According to a 1939 document Erdoğan revealed on Wednesday, 13,806 people were killed in operations carried out against the people of Dersim between 1936 and 1939.