The official English translation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s victory speech delivered following Sunday’s presidential runoff was “sanitized” to sound more conciliatory, the Birgün daily reported on Monday, citing Hannah Lucinda Smith, Turkey correspondent for the British daily The Times.
Erdoğan was the winner of a runoff election on May 28 that will extend his 20-year rule until 2028. He received 52.1 percent of the nationwide vote, while his main rival, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, got 47.8 percent, according to the preliminary results. That evening the president gave a victory speech outside the presidential palace in Ankara.
According to Birgün, Erdoğan’s harsh remarks directed towards opposition politicians, including Kılıçdaroğlu and jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş, and foreign powers in the speech were left out in its English translation released on the Turkish presidency website the next day.
“To read the English translation of Erdogan’s victory speech on the official Turkish presidency website, you would think that his tone was conciliatory. Significant chunks of his vitriol against the opposition and nefarious foreign powers are left out,” Smith said in a series of tweets.
She advised people to go to the Turkish version of the speech to get the “full story,” adding that Erdoğan has two separate messages for his audience at home and for foreigners “who he needs to keep onside.”
To read the English translation of Erdogan's victory speech on the official Turkish presidency website, you would think that his tone was conciliatory. Significant chunks of his vitriol against the opposition and nefarious foreign powers are left out: https://t.co/qPdKHcvotE
— Hannah Lucinda Smith (@hannahluci) May 29, 2023
The English translation was missing Erdoğan’s statements accusing Kılıçdaroğlu of links to terrorism, reminding that he had pledged to release Demirtaş, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), if he was elected to the top state post.
The text also excluded the president’s remarks in which he directly referred to Demirtaş as a “terrorist” and accused him of responsibility for the deaths of 51 people during street protests in 2014.
“This terrorist, Selo, [Demirtaş] is responsible for the deaths of 51 Kurdish brothers and sisters in Diyarbakır. In Turkey, where justice and the rule of law prevail, you can’t simply release Selo … like you say. Such a thing isn’t possible under our administration,” Erdoğan said in the victory speech, addressing Kılıçdaroğlu.
The translation also omitted the part where Erdoğan said, “Did German, French and British magazines not put Erdoğan on their covers to bring him down? Well, my brothers, they also lost!”
Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), in addition to their ultranationalist election partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), accuse the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, and also accuse other opposition parties of collaboration with it from time to time.
The HDP, which ran in the May 14 general election under the banner of the Green Left Party (YSP) because the party faces the risk of being shut down due to an ongoing closure case against it, did not field its own presidential candidate but opted to support Kılıçdaroğlu to increase his chances of unseating Erdoğan.
Demirtaş also actively supported Kılıçdaroğlu’s election campaign on social media through his lawyers. He remains jailed on politically motivated charges since November 2016 despite decisions from the European Court of Human Rights calling for his release.