March 16, 2013

The Imrali peace process and defaming Hizmet Movement

İhsan Yılmaz

After the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan's comments to the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies visiting him on İmralı Island were leaked to the press, almost everybody asked who was behind the leak. The main suspicion was that it was leaked by one who did not want the peace negotiations to be successful. Yet, not surprisingly, some -- including one BDP deputy -- blamed the Hizmet movement for this, as they blame Hizmet for everything under the sun. Now that the BDP has confessed that some of its own members gave the remarks to the press, those who falsely accused Hizmet must also apologize.

There is a lobby in Turkey that insists that Hizmet has a security-focused approach to the Kurdish problem. They claim that Hizmet does not favor the peaceful resolution of this issue, but instead, wants all the Kurdish principal actors to be imprisoned. Some others put it more skillfully, but this is the crux of their argument: Hizmet wants the Kurdish issue to be solved by the security forces and the judiciary. They must be confusing Hizmet with the Kemalist generals. While businessmen or bureaucrats have seen the Kurdish-populated eastern Turkey as a place for exile, Hizmet participants have voluntarily been migrating to these areas to establish schools, study centers and so on. They have been investing not only their money, but also time, efforts, energy and lives for a peaceful solution. The PKK was so upset with these activities -- since educated Kurdish youth did not want to be terrorists -- it has not only threatened but also bombed and burned Hizmet's study centers and dormitories repeatedly. Despite all this, it is puzzling how some people, including some so-called liberals, could blame Hizmet for being security-oriented. The only so-called evidence that they can show was Hizmet media outlets insistence on the rule of law and their support for the judicial proceedings. However, with some notable exceptions of these so-called liberals and pro-PKK people, almost everyone had the same position, including the Justice and Development Party (AKP). It is curious that while they have mostly fallen short of critiquing all these, they persistently targeted Hizmet.

These very people might have been hoping that Hizmet would oppose the İmralı process. This would be a golden opportunity for them to blacken Hizmet once and for all this time. Not all, but some of them would also be able to use Hizmet's opposition to the process as a pretext for their failures in the negotiations. They would argue that it was because of Hizmet's opposition that the peace talks failed. This would serve three purposes. First, with the promise of talks, they would gain some time without PKK terror. but in the end, would not upset the nationalist-oriented Turks by “giving” the Kurds some more rights. Second, they would also not upset the Kurds in the case of failure, since they would point their finger at Hizmet. Third, Hizmet would lose prestige among the Kurds so that its civil society power would be diminished. I can imagine their disappointment when Fethullah Gülen very clearly announced that he supports the peace process.

It seems that now that they think they have another opportunity. In the İmralı leak, it appears that Öcalan makes a racist attack against Said Nursi and he fabricates incredible lies about both Fethullah Gülen and Hizmet. Many people in Hizmet justifiably objected to these remarks and have criticized Öcalan. This is taken by some as if Hizmet is revisiting its position on the peace process. No, this isn't the case. Everyone knew who Öcalan was and what the PKK was all about. His defamation and lies can only bring prestige to Hizmet. Yet no one must ask Hizmet supporters to remain silent while this defamation takes place. Nobody is contesting the peace process, but no one has to accept every insult and slur.

For instance, would the writers who criticize Hizmet's reaction to these slurs be silent if the same denigrating remarks were made against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or themselves?

Published on Today's Zaman, 15 March 2013, Friday
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