The Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) has responded to a series of controversial claims and slanderous accusations that aim to associate the faith-based Gülen movement, also known as Hizmet movement, with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), stressing once again that Hizmet rejects all kinds of violence.
Releasing a statement on Tuesday, GYV said there is a new smear campaign being conducted against the Hizmet movement nowadays which aims to manipulate the public opinion through news reports in some pro-government media outlets that suggest a link between the movement and the PKK.
“We would like to reiterate once again that Hizmet has never seen violence as a means of seeking one’s rights and that Hizmet has always been against terrorism,” the statement said.
Immediately after a Twitter user known by the pseudonym Fuat Avni claimed in a series of tweets last week that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered a plot that aims to show the Gülen movement linked to terrorist PKK, pro-government newspapers have begun to run stories saying that a suicide bomber was arrested in the country’s southeast with links to both the PKK and the Gülen movement. They said police raided the house of the terrorist and found the books of both jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen who inspired the Hizmet movement.
The controversial news reports of the pro-government dailies came as the confirmation of Fuat Avni’s revelations about a plot to link Hizmet with the PKK.
In its statement, GYV recalled that until a few years ago, those who launched a controversial settlement process with the PKK in order to resolve the country’s long-standing terrorism problem, were accusing the Hizmet of being against the settlement process and anti-Kurdish.
“It is seen that those circles who did not have the slightest tolerance for calls asking for transparency in the settlement process, genuine contribution to it and questioning of it, are now engaged in efforts to link Hizmet with the PKK,” said the GYV.
A settlement process launched by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government in late 2012 to resolve the Kurdish problem collapsed following a two-year-cease-fire last July, triggering the worst violence in Turkey’s southeast since 1990s. Hundreds of civilians, security forces’ members as well as PKK terrorists have been killed in the region in the renewed conflict over the past months.
During the course of the settlement process, the AK Party government attracted much criticism for conducting the process in a non-transparent way and failing to inform the opposition parties and civil society about the content of the talks held with jailed PKK leader Öcalan. Hence, there was widespread skepticism in the society about the process’ prospects of resolving the decades-long conflict.
In its statement, GYV asked whether the efforts to associate Hizmet movement with the PKK are intended to cover up the government’s mistakes in the settlement process by directing the anger in the society over the killing of hundreds of security forces’ members, civilians and destruction of many cities in the country’s southeast due to the clashes between the PKK and the security forces to Hizmet.
“Our most urgent desire is the end of the violence in the country which grows every day before it gives further damage to the brotherly relations in the society,” said the GYV, adding that the government has all the responsibility, authority and the necessary means to make this happen.
The PKK, which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s southeast since 1984, is listed as a terrorist organization not only by Turkey, but also by the US and the EU.
President Erdoğan is seeking to show the Gülen movement, which is known for its promotion of educational activities, charity work and inter-faith dialogue, as a terrorist organization despite the absence of any court decision to this effect.
On the contrary, Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen is known to be a vocal critic of those who commit acts of violence no matter for what purpose.
Individuals and organizations that are thought to be tied to the Gülen movement have been facing immense pressure from the AK Party since the becoming public of a corruption investigation in late 2013 in which senior government members were implicated.
The AK Party government and then-Prime Minister and current President Erdoğan dubbed the graft probe as a “coup attempt” to overthrow the government and accused the Gülen movement of establishing a “parallel state or structure” within the state to overthrow his government.
Erdoğan infamously promised to take every measure to eliminate the “parallel structure,” including launching a “witch hunt.”
As part of the government’s war on the Gülen movement, many individuals have been arrested and business places and organizations have been either shut down or taken over by the government on the grounds that they support terrorism.