Turkey's opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has launched a campaign of “making amends” by acknowledging past failures and injustices in the country.
He vowed to provide compensation to people who have suffered at the hands of the system if his party comes to power in the next elections.
“We will close up the injuries caused by the Feb. 28 [the so-called 'post-modern coup' of 1997] and make amends. We will make amends with our headscarved girls who were placed in persuasion rooms. We will make amends with Roboski. The state will pay compensation to people but on the other side, we will also make amends. We will make amends with victims of Sivas, Kahramanmaraş [massacares],” he said during his party's parliamentary group meeting on Nov. 16.
He listed several other groups who have been wronged in the past by the policies of the governments. Among them he said were Diyarbakır prison inmates, Roma people who have bee further marginalized with the recent gentrification process, minorities imposed with “wealth tax” (“varlık vergisi” in Turkish), victims of Sept. 6-7, 1955 pogrom, Turkey's bright youth who migrated abroad, the family of killed Gezi Park protester Ali İsmail Korkmaz, family members of men killed in the Soma mining disaster, and exiled Kurdish singer Ahmet Kaya.
“We will make amends, my friends. When our children look at the past in the near future, they will say, 'So many things happened, but they knew how to look ahead, well done to them,'” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that his party was opening the door to a future that will serve many more governments ahead.
He said that although his party will go through a heavy “pressure” due to this reconciliation process, “someone had to do it.”
The CHP leader said his reconciliation campaign did not mean that the judiciary will not call the relevant authorities into account for the injustices done. “The law is something else; whoever has committed a crime, its equivalent is the law. The law and making amends should not be confused,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu's comments came after he shared a video in which he again emphasized the need for a healing process from the past mistakes.
“In my life, I have seen both hate and love. I now want the love to win. There is a need for our country to get better, to make amends. Making amends would not change the past but would save our future. Our party also did mistakes in the past, but I have taken a decision to set out on a journey of making amends,” he said in a video shared on his social media on Nov. 13.
Ben ömrümde, ülkemizde nefreti ve sevgiyi gördüm. Artık sevgi kazansın istiyorum. Ülkemizin iyileşmeye, helalleşmeye ihtiyacı var. Helalleşmek geçmişi değiştirmez ama geleceğimizi kurtarır. Geçmişte partimizin de hataları oldu; helalleşme yolculuğuna çıkma kararı aldım... pic.twitter.com/doAjSLrkh3— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) November 13, 2021
There has been a historical struggle between the CHP and conservative factions of society. Kılıçdaroğlu's remarks are said to be an attempt to solve these disputes amid a visible fall in the support for the Islamist ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ahead of the 2023 general elections.