GYV Declaration: The AKP and Hizmet on democracy

İhsan Yılmaz
İhsan Yılmaz


Date posted: December 6, 2013

Ihsan Yilmaz

The Hizmet movement’s Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) released a statement on its website on Thursday in which it said it is worried about the profiling of citizens, civic groups and public employees. It demanded that all the legislation that is reminiscent of the old, anti-democratic Turkey must be revised to ensure their full compliance with fundamental rights and freedoms.

The GYV reiterated that the Hizmet movement relies on such fundamental principles as rule of law, democracy, pluralism, universal human rights and freedoms, justice, equal citizenship, compliance with international law and conventions, transparency of the state and accountability.

The GYV also criticized the AKP’s plan to force prep schools to shut down, saying the plan is in breach of the universal principles and norms of law, particularly including the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Turkish Constitution, as well as of fundamental human rights and democratic values. The statement described the government’s attempt as a “social engineering effort that is unacceptable.” The GYV also dismissed suggestions that protests against the prep school ban are anti-democratic: “To portray the civilian/democratic reactions to the plan to ban prep schools as well as to anti-democratic moves as part of a political conspiracy is to wander off the main issue and distort reality.” The GYV once again rejected claims of the Hizmet movement forming a political party. But the GYV reiterated that the people who are inspired by the Hizmet movement are free to lend support to any political party and/or candidates based on their personal choices. The statement underlined that the Hizmet movement is supported by volunteers with a diverse array of political and ideological backgrounds and thus it is impossible for Hizmet to encourage its members to lend support to any specific political party or candidate. The GYV concluded that “the Hizmet movement nurtures a heartfelt desire for Turkey’s being endowed with true democracy, transparency, full-fledged rule of law and shows due respect to the nation’s democratic preferences and to Parliament.”

I have cited and quoted the GYV declaration to show that as a result of the daily political tensions in Turkey, the Hizmet movement has been reaffirming its stance on democracy, pluralism, human rights, international values, freedom of expression, importance of elections and free choice, the vitality of the EU and the ECHR for Turkey and so on. Moreover, with every new development or crisis, the movement has been fine-tuning and refining its stance on these issues in a progressive fashion. These statements of the GYV have also been playing a pedagogical, as it were, role on the minds of the Hizmet volunteers. With each undemocratic mistake of the AKP, they are appreciating the importance of democracy, a small, transparent, accountable state with proper and effective checks and balances on the executive and a robust regime of rule of law, accompanied by objective, human rights friendly, independent judiciary. The Hizmet volunteers have become increasingly aware that having practicing Muslims in power is not enough. What is crucial is to have a modern democracy with a proper separation of powers, powerful parliamentarians who are responsible to their voters not to their leaders, rule of law, transparency, accountability, credible opposition and just elections laws. The Turkish practicing Muslims, chiefly among them the Hizmet volunteers, are painfully discovering that these secular values and principles are not against Islam and they are indeed “Islamic” requirements. Out of necessity, Hizmet has been engaged in “ijtihad by conduct” on these issues. Muslim jurisprudence and history do not provide concrete and detailed blueprints for all these, other than some universal generic guidelines such as being just and consulting people.

All in all, the AKP’s Kemalo-Islamist members’ recently visible problems with the Hizmet movement may well serve the further deepening of Civil Islam understanding of democracy, human rights, independent and diverse civil society, rule of law, accountability of the state and checks and balances.

Source: Today's Zaman , December 6, 2013


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