December 15, 2016

Written Evidence to UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Hizmet

The Alliance for Shared Values of the US & The Dialogue Platform of the UK prepared a report on “UK’s relations with Turkey” that focuses on the Hizmet Movement. The report may be downloaded, disseminated for free and even printed.

Two representatives from the above mentioned organizations were personally invited to submit written evidence by the Committee to explain Hizmet and provide Hizmet’s perspective, and response to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s allegations against Fethullah Gülen and the Hizmet movement (Hizmet), including but not restricted to, the failed coup. The submission’s length and content, both checked in advance with the Committee Specialist, is a reflection of the variety and gravity of allegations made by the AKP government against Gülen and Hizmet.

Executive Summary

Hizmet (“Service’) is a decentralised civil society movement which originated in Turkey but is now transnational. Its lead scholar, Fethullah Gülen, teaches a peaceful, spiritual and dialogic form of Islam, recognises democracy as the best form of governance, favours an Anglo-Saxon style of secularism, and advocates for Turkey’s accession to the EU. He opposes identity politics and argues that Islam does not dictate a particular form of governance and there is no responsibility on Muslims to found an “Islamic state.” He suggests that Muslims should strive for a vibrant civil society. He has consistently and strongly denounced any form or type of terrorism.

Until recently outsiders perceived the movement as an ally of Turkey’s AK Party. However, with Erdoğan’s growing authoritarianism and since the Gezi Park Protests, the President and the AK Party have singled out Hizmet as a convenient political scapegoat and have taken continuous, accelerating, and frequently unlawful steps to dismember the movement and to eradicate it from Turkey and the rest of the world. Despite the fact that Turkey’s AK Party explains almost every detrimental development in Turkey today by reference to Gülen, it is important to note that this Committee’s 2010 – 2012 report on Turkey featured only one passing reference to Gülen. If the accusations about Gülen were true, then surely this would have been picked up and raised by at least some of the experts and witnesses that submitted written and oral evidence to the Committee for the 2010 – 2012 report.

Even when targeting Hizmet, Erdoğan uses specific allegations for specific purposes. For example, claiming that Hizmet has established a “parallel state” within the state allows the government to purge the state of non-loyalists en masse. Excommunicating Gülen and Hizmet from Islam serves to sever Hizmet’s public support. Claiming that Hizmet is CIA-, MOSSAD-, MI6-funded and coordinated is intended to turn ordinary Muslims against Hizmet. Claiming that Hizmet is in fact a “terrorist organisation” enables the government to proscribe the movement, terrorise its grass roots, and confiscate all of its property and assets. Pinning the coup on Hizmet enabled the AKP government to justify its persecution of Hizmet and its pre-designation of it as an “armed terrorist organisation.” Claiming that Hizmet is secretive helps support the other allegations but also works best outside of Turkey where the more bombastic accusations are approached with scepticism.
The spurious accusation against Gülen and the Hizmet movement is being used to justify a huge number of real and even deadly human rights violations against Hizmet participants inside and outside Turkey. These human rights violations are not confined to Hizmet, however, but encompass all opposition to or even critics of Erdoğan or the current government, especially journalists and members of Turkey’s Kurdish minority. Erdoğan’s threats to “eradicate” and “exterminate” Hizmet even beyond Turkey’s borders are an incitement to violence within the UK and this, as well as human rights violations within Turkey must be seen to have an impact on UK foreign policy.
Given the nature of the personal invitation to submit to the Committee, this written statement addresses the above-mentioned allegations as well as the nature of Hizmet, Hizmet in the UK, the persecution of Hizmet before and after the coup, why Hizmet is being singled out by the AKP government and some recommendations.

    • Human Rights Violations against Hizmet between 2013 and 2015
    • Human Rights Violations against Hizmet since the failed coup
    • Public dimension of persecution
    • Stages of persecution
    • Allegation 1: “Hizmet is secretive”
    • Allegation 2: “Infiltrating the state”
    • Allegation 3: “Parallel State”
    • Allegation 4: “FETO and Coup”
Click this link to download the report