It has been the same topic of discourse everywhere. And it won’t stop anytime soon because of the atrocities that have followed, all in the name of sanitising the country and arresting masterminds of the phantom coup. The news coming out of Turkey has been really disturbing to many, and equally baffling to the world.
President Erdogan has obviously lost his sense of humanity. He has vowed to wipe out all participants of the Hizmet movement in Turkey and on the face of the earth. And he has started with the closure of schools, hospitals, universities, newspaper houses, charity organisations, orphanages and anything that is linked to the Hizmet movement regardless of the services these individuals and institutions are providing for the Turkish society.
What most people haven’t realised or refused to acknowledge is the fact that President Erdogan started to target the Hizmet movement after the corruption scandal in 2013. He closed newspaper houses associated with the movement, he arrested scores of people, but he had some limitations because of the compliance to the European Convention on Human Rights—an international treaty ratified by Turkey that protects human rights and fundamental freedoms.
And a plan was hatched. And the constitution was suspended via the declaration of a state of emergency and the witch-hunt has been massive. The figures are mind-boggling and the question is if the number of people that have been so far arrested and killed could be behind a coup, why did the coup fail? And I beg to ask some questions. How can a 75-year-old man plan a coup when he has been out of circulation for the last 17 years and living a recluse life in a small neighbourhood in the United States? What is the antecedent of Fethullah Gulen? And have there been instances where members of the Hizmet movement have ever been violent or taken to the streets to protest under whatever guise or form in its history? The answer to these questions should invoke some level of emotions in people because a greater genocide is happening in Turkey.
In his reaction to the allegations, Fethullah Gulen wrote a strong-worded letter and appealed to the international community to carry out an investigation and he would subject himself to whatever outcome that is reached. Please permit me to quote a section here: “I have been living a reclusive life in self-exile in a small town in the United States for the last 17 years. The assertion that I convinced the eighth largest army in the world – from 6,000 miles away – to act against its own government is not only baseless, it is false, and has not resonated throughout the world.”
“If there are any officers among the coup plotters who consider themselves as a sympathiser of Hizmet movement, in my opinion, those people committed treason against the unity of their country by taking part in an event where their own citizens lost their lives. They also violated the values that I have cherished throughout my life, and caused hundreds of thousands of innocent people to suffer under the government’s oppressive treatment.”I do weep for Turkey because how can you justify under whatever guise the shutting down of about 1061 schools and dormitories and well over 35 hospitals that included dialysis centres, just because they belong to participants of the Hizmet movement? Are the Hizmet movement participants no longer humans or Turks? As it stands, President Erdogan, in his wisdom, has succeeded in doing two things; taking Turkey back some donkey years and sowed the seed of polarisation and discrimination in the Turkish society because with the way things are, it’s no longer about Turkey but about consolidating power, not minding whose ox is gored.
“Hizmet movement participants have not been involved in one single violent incident throughout its 50-year history. They haven’t even taken to the streets to confront Turkish security forces while they have been suffering under the government’s “witch hunt,” to use Mr. Erdoğan’s own words, for the last three years.”
“Despite being subjected to a smear campaign and suffering under a state oppression for the last three years in the hands of a politically controlled law enforcement and the judiciary, Hizmet movement participants have complied with the law, opposed injustices through legitimate means and only defended their rights within the legal framework”
Of course, there would be future implications, in my opinion, the stigmatisation, and demonisation won’t disappear anytime soon. It will live with us for a while and it won’t, in any way, advance the interest of our dear country, rather it would threaten the very foundation of social cohesion. And just like the popular saying ‘United we stand and Divided we Fall’. This saying is very relevant in Turkey as things stand. We need to be united more than ever. The dehumanisation and demonisation must be discontinued. The unnecessary clampdown and closure of schools and hospitals must stop. The licenses of teachers that were revoked should be restored, those being held in concentration camps must be released without conditions, and properties of Hizmet movement participants that were confiscated or destroyed should be repaired or replaced.
And on a final note, the Hizmet movement is not a terrorist organisation and would never be because Terrorism, according to various definitions is the “use or threatened use of violence (terror) in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological aim.” It is important to note that the movement does not have a central ruling body or memberships. Anyone who reads and listens to Fethullah Gulen’s self-development books and cassettes can simply choose to “subscribe” to the movement and invest themselves in various initiatives as long as they are in line with the ideals of Hizmet that emphasises the establishment of schools in order to create a highly educated generation, encouraging this idealist generation to improve themselves and become productive members of their respective social circles, promoting multiculturalism and coexistence by connecting with community leaders, and all open-minded people, and encouraging the Muslim world to embrace and practice democratic values, which will help strike down sectarian and political barriers.
Published on Leadership Nigeria, 19 August 2016, Friday