Terrorist organization seeks to fill void in Southeast after closure of prep schools

Students attending a free reading hall in the eastern province of Kars wrote letters to the PM, asking that prep schools and reading halls be preserved. (Photo: Cihan, Mehmet Okay)
Students attending a free reading hall in the eastern province of Kars wrote letters to the PM, asking that prep schools and reading halls be preserved. (Photo: Cihan, Mehmet Okay)


Date posted: December 2, 2013

Terrorist organizations are getting ready to fill the void in the education system in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated Southeast following the government’s decision to shut down prep schools and study centers, the Bugün daily said on Monday.

“The [terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party] PKK is increasing the number of Education Support Houses [EDEV] in the eastern and southeastern part of Turkey,” the daily said.

According to the report, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization that includes the terrorist PKK, has opened 80 such houses in the past year and is after setting up an infrastructure to establish its own education system in the region. “Young people who are enrolled in EDEVs are trained to become sympathizers of the PKK,” the report said.

Reportedly, EDEVs are mainly active in provinces such as Diyarbakır, Şırnak, Hakkari, Siirt and Van. Although established to help young people perform better in exams so that they can enter high schools and universities, EDEVs apparently also serve as a tool to recruit militants for the KCK. “In these centers, the [terrorist] organization is praised, the history of the PKK is taught and young people are encouraged to join the PKK,” the daily claimed.

Despite widespread criticism, the government has finished work on the draft version of a law that aims to close down all prep schools, institutes known as dershanes that offer students courses to prepare for standardized high school and college entrance exams, together with study centers that provide free tutoring and counseling to students in the impoverished regions of Turkey – usually in the East and Southeast.

The Kurdish Hizbullah is also after attracting young Kurds into its ranks, according to another report which appeared in the Bugün daily on the same day. The report said security forces had discovered, thanks to intelligence obtained in November based on e-mail messages between Hacı İnan, the fugitive leader of the İlim branch of the Kurdish Hizbullah, and Edip Gümüş, the leader of the terrorist organization based in İstanbul, that the İlim branch had received wind that prep schools would be closed down even before the public was informed about the issue.

“The fugitive leaders of the [Kurdish] Hizbullah’s İlim branch instructed those in the organization to take care of the young people [in Turkey’s Southeast] who will be left to their own devices [in the future] by paying them a visit in their houses. The organization [Kurdish Hizbullah/İlim Branch-Hüda Par] can best fill the void [caused by the closure of prep schools and study centers],” the daily said.

The Kurdish Hizbullah committed brutal crimes in Turkey in the 1990s. Some believe this organization was established as a state proxy to be used against the PKK. But as noted by Emre Uslu, a columnist for Today’s Zaman, in his column on Nov. 8, since 2004, the Kurdish Hizbullah has changed its main strategy and declared it will not use armed strategies anymore. In December of last year, the Hizbullah in Turkey established the Hür Dava Party (Hüda-Par), which is headed by Ze­ke­ri­ya Ya­pı­cı­oğ­lu, a lawyer by profession.

Education Minister Nabi Avcı, who confirmed last week that prep schools will not be able to accept new enrollments nor will their licenses be renewed as of Jan. 1, stated that only paid study centers will be closed down as part of the new regulation. The government calls on the owners of prep schools to transform the institutions into private schools.

Noting that prep schools and study centers close to Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s Hizmet movement have always been the PKK’s target in the Southeast, the daily said, “Leading figures of the [terrorist] organization who live in Kandil Mountains [in northern Iraq] have identified prep schools as a target many times before.”

Now that the government seems determined to go ahead with its plan to abolish prep schools, Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), said the PKK should fill in the void in the Southeast that would result from the closure of prep schools.

In a message that served to put prep schools in the country’s Kurdish-dominated Southeast in the PKK’s targets, Fehman Hüseyin, a senior PKK commander, once said, “In prep schools [in the Southeast] belonging to the Gülen [movement], Kurdish children are being assimilated,” the daily noted.

During his speech at the first congress of the BDP’s youth council held in Diyarbakır over the weekend, Demirtaş said: “Our leader Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] has repeatedly underlined the importance of education. If we create a gap, others would [come in and] fill that. Determine what gaps religious communities take advantage of [in the Southeast when reaching out to young students]. If we can’t fill in this void, the surrender [willing integration of Kurds into Turkish society] of [Kurdish] society will continue.”

Drawing attention to the fact that in the period following the threat-like statement by the PKK’s Hüseyin, the PKK’s Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement staged attacks, in which explosives such as gasoline bombs were used, against prep schools run by Gülen’s Hizmet movement in the southeastern provinces of Turkey, the daily said quite a few students were wounded in such attacks while the institutes themselves also suffered considerable physical damage.

The PKK also tried to influence Kurds through PKK media outlets such as the Fırat news agency (ANF), the Özgür Gündem daily, Med TV (currently called Sterk TV). The names of those who work for prep schools and study centers belonging to the Hizmet movement were publicized numerous times in broadcasts and publications of the PKK media, thereby paving the way for them to be targeted by the PKK, the daily said.

In a statement to the ANF in March this year, Fehman said: “Kurdish society, families, civil society organizations should be careful [about Kurdish children being integrated into Turkish society]. These methods should be brought to light. Young Kurdish people are being assimilated by way of prep schools.”

By way of a black propaganda that claimed that the Hizmet movement is behind the investigation currently being carried out against the KCK, the terrorist organization not only aimed to keep Kurds away from these educational institutes but also, at the same time, sent orders for attacks against the institutions to members of the terrorist organization, the daily maintained. Teachers who gave classes at these institutions were threatened by the PKK while their houses and cars were set on fire.

The daily also said a priest in Hakkari who was claimed to be close to the Hizmet movement was killed by the PKK back in 2010 as he had advised young Kurdish people to go to school and stay away from the PKK. Dilşad, the PKK terrorist who killed the priest, said he killed the priest because the priest kept young people away from street protests, told them to go to school and not throw stones at the police, the daily quoted him saying, referencing Dilşad’s statement to the police.

Prep schools are private establishments that offer classes preparing students for high school or university admission examinations. Many rely on them as they offer exam tutoring at affordable prices. Many critics have pointed out the positive role prep schools — which operate differently in the East and Southeast, where they are called study centers or reading rooms — play in the impoverished parts of the country, keeping children off the streets and, most importantly, preventing them from joining the terrorist PKK.

Source: Today's Zaman , December 2, 2013


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