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Speaking at the 1st year anniversary of the foiled coup of July 15 in Turkey, the chair of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave remarks that have caused reaction among the members of the opposition and the public.
‘We buried 250 heroes to the ground on the night of July 15. And, in return, we have saved the future of the 50 million in Turkey’, Erdoğan said, leaving aside the other 30 million in the country, which has a current population of around 80 million.
Members of the opposition Özgür Özel (CHP MP) and Meral Danış Beştaş (HDP MP) reacted to the discriminative rhetoric of Erdoğan and shared their comments with BirGün.
CHP MP Özel: 'Erdoğan governs by dividing people'
Noting that an antithesis against Erdoğan’s way of governing has been provided with the Justice March of the opposition, CHP MP Özel says this has bothered AKP.
“The only way for him (Erdoğan) to govern this country is to divide it and take those in support of him and marginalize the rest”, Özel said and added: “They (AKP) have been separated from the coup plotters only within the past 5 years of the 50 years long journey. As he always does, he (Erdoğan) wants to again divide the country by using numbers and make it seem like he has the majority backing him. But everyone knows that if there are indeed 80 million in this country, 40 million said ‘yes’ in the referenum but at least another 40 million represent the ‘no’ votes.”
Saying the referendum’s ‘yes voters’ have been demonizing the other side, Özel continued with the following remarks: “The ‘no’ voters are bonded but they do not see the other side as an enemy. The Justice March was not only supported by the ‘no voters’. People from various backgrounds and views sought refuge in the search for justice. And, this has led Erdoğan to lose composure. And, they even tried imitating the Justice March (during July 15 ceremonies). Then, Erdoğan divided the 80 milion. This has to be reminded to him that we are not a small group of people. We are actually larger than you! We have been giving effort to build friendship with those whom you thought were with you... This country is too big and strong to be divided by numbers”.
HDP MP Beştaş: 'These kinds of statements are dangerous'
HDP MP Meral Danış Beştaş drew attention to the fact that Erdoğan and other AKP officials have actually been using a polarizing rhetoric all along the past 15 years. Beştaş asserted that if Erdoğan really thinks that he has saved the future of the 50 million in Turkey, then he is, at the same time, leaving the rest of the 30 million to death.
“If Erdoğan had really spoken as the president of the country, then he had to think of all 80 million citizens in this country. Turkey is getting partitioned with these kinds of statements and rhetoric. It is a deliberate political effort (of AKP). The real ‘seperatism’ is polarizing the citizens. This is a very dangerous way of speaking and it must never be used in politics”.
Also emphasizing that as HDP representatives they believe in ‘pluralistic democracy’, Beştaş said, “The essence of democracy is indeed a promotion of pluralism. It involves all different groups to live together. July 15 has been declared as the Democracy Day but this holiday of democracy is not for all 80 million people, then, it has no meaning. You cannot be celebrating a national holidday by making such seperation”.
Referring to the recent attack on the HQ of HDP in southern province of Adana, where the party flags were taken down by unknown agressors, Beştaş said: “This incident is an exact result of this kind of rhetoric. When Erdoğan speaks like that, some citizens see in themselves the right to attack others with different political views. The democracy holiday is currently lacking a valuable content. There is no democracy in Turkey. With the decleration of state of emergency and the coup of July 20, the citizens of Turkey have been oppressed. A civil coup is being run. And, these kinds of statements are actually statements confessing this mentality”.
Public reaction on social media
Members of the public Turkey also reacted to Erdoğan’s statement. Some of the messages of social media users were as the following: ‘So, the rest is Kurds and Alevis, I guess’; ‘Damn with us Alevis, they’d be so happy if we were all to die’; ‘This statement means that those who voted ‘no’ in the referendum have by now been stripped of their citizenship’; ‘This is not a slip of the tongue, it is a statement said very consicously and on purpose to signal a new stage in the country’; ‘It is a true statement because the rest of the 30 million will not have a future under this government.’
Front-page article of BirGün published on 17 July 2017, Monday with the headline of 'Erdoğan now divides the country by numbers'
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