July 14, 2014

BBP leader speaks out against plot targeting Hizmet movement

Grand Unity Party (BBP) Chairman Mustafa Destici spoke out against a government-sponsored plan to illegally investigate the faith-based Hizmet movement, saying his party has always opposed “dirty plots” targeting civil society groups and will continue to do so.

“We have always said we are against plots as a principle. We opposed such plots in the past and will continue to be against them in the future, too. We spoke out against the unlawful practices and witch hunts during the Feb. 28 coup in 1997. We were one of the few parties that dared to raise their voice at the time. And today, we are raising our voice against similar practices, too,” Destici told a group of reporters on Sunday.

A plan to start an unlawful investigation into Hizmet came to the fore earlier this month after the National Police Department's Counterterrorism Unit (TEM) sent an order to a number of police departments across the country. The order accuses the Hizmet movement of planning a coup against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and possessing arms, among other claims.

In the order, TEM head Turgut Aslan also asked the police departments to gather intelligence about Hizmet members as well as media organizations, civil society groups, private schools, student dormitories, colleges, companies, foundations and associations affiliated with Hizmet.

The BBP head also criticized the AK Party government for embarking on a “battle” against Hizmet just after they made peace with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). “They [the government] are hugging PKK members and leaders who have caused great pain to our people for some 30 years, killing thousands of members of the police force and the military, but they are not doing the same for members of the Hizmet movement who they were describing as their ‘brothers' until six or seven months ago,” he said, calling on government officials to end their campaign against Hizmet.

“Turkey needs unity, solidarity, peace and fraternity more than anything else. So, we ask everyone to be wary of hatred, enmity, polarization and 'otherization',” Destici added.

Since a major graft operation became public on Dec. 17 of last year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also the AK Party leader, has continuously referred to Hizmet as a terrorist organization that, acting on the orders of foreign powers, is trying to stage a coup against him. He has likened Hizmet volunteers to hashish-consuming assassins. Erdoğan is yet to present any evidence for these claims.

Published on Today's Zaman, 14 July 2014, Monday