March 25, 2013

Hizmet movement and the peace process

Markar Esayan

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder, who participated in an editorial meeting of the Hürriyet daily that convened in Diyarbakır, made important statements on how the conversations with Öcalan during the visit by the second İmralı delegation were reflected in the media.

Önder, who also took part in a third visit and read Öcalan's call to the crowds in Diyarbakır in the Turkish language, said that some of Öcalan's remarks were presented out of context and distorted. Öcalan felt the need to correct his unacceptable remarks on Fethullah Gülen, the Hizmet movement, Armenians and other non-Muslims. Önder noted: "The Fethullah Gülen matter and what was said about the Armenian people bear serious distortion. What I say and what Hrant Dink said is the same. When I said lobbies, it should be noted that this was one of the things that Hrant complained about."

We understand the logic and goal of the leak from the developments in the talks. Even though this is a past issue, it is important that Öcalan wanted to clarify the matter because further leaks that could target a crucial leg in the peace process can be prevented by reasonable and wise statements. Öcalan's remark, “At a point where everybody wants democracy and peace, I would not offend and exclude anybody,” puts emphasis upon this because the Gülen movement has been supportive of the solution process from the beginning and it has been the main target of the campaigns of demonization over the last decade. This was actually something that we are familiar with considering that the same approach has always been employed vis-à-vis the groups identified as enemies in Turkey. Alevis, Muslims and Kurds have felt their fair share of discrimination.

The current conundrum is the result of this ideological stance anyway. Therefore, the unacceptable remarks leaked to the media of a person who has assumed a crucial role in finding a solution to the PKK issue, which is one of the most fundamental problems in Turkey, raised concerns. The logic of the leak was to cause intimidation and a questioning of the process since the huge popular support for a solution has given the government assurance that it is heading in the right direction. In its effort to deal with this big problem all by itself, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) relies on the support of the people. And the Gülen movement is part of this supportive group. “Fethullah Gülen's approach on peace is also my approach; we could work together for democratic peace and politics in the entire Middle East. Give him my regards. I am the one who best understands him,” Öcalan said, which marks an important development for the abortion of this attempt at sabotage.

The PKK and Kurdish issue is the result of the discriminative policies of the former regime; and that has caused serious damage. The state has regarded the multicultural, multi-identity and multi-religious structure of the country as a threat since the birth of the republic and it has waged a war against it. All social groups paid a price. If the PKK issue is being solved today, this is happening because this mindset of denial is being abandoned. Therefore, making similar mistakes at this stage cannot be accepted. No group, community or identity can be regarded as a threat at this stage. The government is willing to do something. And it is also important that Öcalan corrected his previous remarks.

We have the painful experience of the past 90 years. We, as Muslims, non-Muslims, Kurds, Turks, Alevis, religious people, seculars, leftists, liberals and conservatives, are aware that we should work together and not become victims of the dark circles in the country. I suppose this is our greatest assurance.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 24 March 2013, Sunday

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