Publication details [#59670]

Forchtner, Bernhard and Ibrahim Efe. 2015. ‘Saying sorry’ in Turkey. The Dersim massacre of the 1930s in 2011. Journal of Language and Politics 14 (2) : 233–257.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Dominant self-complacent national narratives (not only) in Turkey have long silenced past wrongdoings. Among these, the massacre of thousands of Kurds in Dersim during the 1930s, being part of the wider suppression of the Kurdish minority until the present day, is a particularly significant example. However, against the background of an almost global emphasis on recognising past crimes, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, offered an apology on 23 November 2011. Erdoğan’s unexpected move has been both viewed as an opportunity for a more inclusive understanding of Turkish citizenship, as well as criticised for being a calculated manoeuvre in order to sideline political opponents. This article investigates both this performance and its public reception. Drawing on the discourse-historical approach to critical discourse analysis, it ultimately illustrates how Erdoğan instrumentalised an ‘apology’ for political gain.