Turkish PM Apologizes for 1930s Killings of Kurds

Posted November 23rd, 2011 at 10:25 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has apologized for the 1930s killings of nearly 14,000 people during a Kurdish rebellion — the government's first public apology for the killings.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the main opposition Republican People's Party on Wednesday had demanded Turkey acknowledge its past actions.

Between 1936 and 1939, the Turkish government killed 13,806 people in the southeastern town of Tunceli. At the time of the killings, the town was named Dersim.

Prime Minister Erdogan called on Kilicdaroglu's Republican People's Party to also issue an apology for the killings because they were the ruling party at the time.

The Turkish government is currently fighting against Kurdish rebels who are waging a campaign for autonomy in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast. The fighting has killed more than 40,000 people since 1984. It is the latest of several uprisings by the Kurds.

Ankara has taken steps to address the demands of Kurds and other minorities for greater rights. Mr. Erdogan is pushing to amend the constitution, which was written in 1982 when Turkey was under military rule. Kurdish leaders say an amended constitution should recognize the Kurds as a distinct element of the nation and grant them autonomy.