CHP parliamentary group Deputy Chairman Akif Hamzaçebi was the first CHP official to respond to Erdoğan and accused him of engaging in separatism. “The prime minister is spreading hatred, anger and animosity. He is engaging in separatism. The prime minister has launched a war against the republic. Next is [Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk,” he said.
Hamzaçebi added, “Every rebel is a victim in the eyes of Erdoğan,” accusing the prime minister of “cheap politics.”
CHP Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin reacted to Erdoğan's words in a written statement and also accused Erdoğan of inciting animosity among people. “I congratulate the prime minister. He put dynamite under the basis of unity in our nation and country with his language, style and explanation. He has been successful in creating animosity among the people. We learned our history, thanks to him. What else is left to say? What is the next step for the prime minister? What is the end goal of his campaign?” he said.
However, in an apparently contradictory reaction, CHP Diyarbakır provincial branch Chairman Muzaffer Değer said hours after Erdoğan's call that the prime minister did what the CHP should have done by apologizing for the Dersim Massacre on behalf of the Turkish state. He said the CHP administration should also confront its past and apologize.
Hours after Değer's apology, the CHP corrected what it said was confusion over the apology for the Dersim Massacre offered by Değer, claiming that the politician was not the CHP's provincial branch chairman when he made the remarks. The CHP said it had dismissed the politician before he made the remarks in a statement it released, but the statement still raised questions whether Değer was sacked because of internal friction over an apology.
In yet another move that exposed the disarray within the CHP, Değer spoke with the Anatolia news agency on Thursday and said he is still at the helm of the Diyarbakır
branch as he had not received any notification from the party's administration about his dismissal. He said according to CHP bylaws, the party administration can dismiss a local branch chairman only through a decision by the party's Central Executive Board (MYK). “The MYK convened on Monday and Diyarbakır was not on the agenda. I am the Diyarbakır provincial head of the CHP. I was so yesterday and I am so today,” he said.
He also stood behind his earlier remarks and said the CHP should face up to its past. “I still stand behind my words. Many people from across Turkey, mainly from Diyarbakır, have called me since yesterday [Wednesday] and congratulated me. I received support from various groups,” he added.
Erdoğan on Wednesday offered an apology for the killings of 13,806 people in the southeastern town of Dersim -- now known as Tunceli -- between 1936 and 1939. The apology came after a war of words between Erdoğan and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Erdoğan called on the CHP leader to offer apologies as well, as the CHP was at the helm of the government during the massacre. Kılıçdaroğlu has not yet responded to the prime minister's comment.
Kılıçdaroğlu also stopped short of offering an apology and instead accused the government on Wednesday of exploiting the history of the Dersim tragedy for political gain.