The election date in Turkey has been announced. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has decided to hold the presidential and parliamentary elections on 14 May. After the announcement, a new participation in the People’s Alliance led by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has drawn public attention. Having lost its credibility with the Kurdish voters, in order to overcome this handicap, the AKP proposed that the Kurdish Islamist Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR), which it wants to portray as the representative of Kurdish people, join the People’s Alliance. This proposal was welcomed by HÜDA-PAR and the party announced that it was joining the People’s Alliance. A similar proposal was made to the New Welfare Party led by the son of Necmettin Erbakan, one of the leaders of political Islam in Turkey. President Erdoğan of AKP seeks to win elections with these additional participants.
It is not known how much these groups will contribute to Erdoğan’s vote, but it is clear that HÜDA-PAR will not have the expected impact on Kurdish voters.
HÜDA-PAR is essentially the political projection of Kurdish Hizbullah, an Islamist organisation unrelated to Lebanese Hezbollah known for its street murders in the 1990s, in Northern Kurdistan. The Islamic movement, which was started by pro-Iranian religionists in Northern Kurdistan in the early 1980s, first split into two within itself as the İlim and Menzil groups. Hüseyin Velioğlu, who was the leader of the İlim group, soon took up arms. He attacked the Menzil group first. Fidan Güngör, who was the leader of the Menzil group, was killed at his workplace in Diyarbakır by members of the İlim group, which took the name Hizbullah. Afterwards, Hizbullah, which came to an agreement with the deep state of the time, began to attack intellectuals, artists, politicians, writers and journalists in several Kurdish provinces, especially Diyarbakır (Amed) and Batman (Elîh), in order to neutralise the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Fikri Sağlar, the Minister of Culture at the time, had spoken openly of the relationship between Hizbullah and the Turkish deep state in the parliament.
Turkey’s Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism (JITEM) on the one hand and Hizbullah led by Velioğlu on the other, were killing Kurds in the streets. These murders continued for four or five years and at least 17,000 Kurds were massacred during this period. State forces paved the way for Hizbullah at the time of the killings.
Murders of Kurds by unknown assailants continued until 1996. After this period, operations started against Hizbullah, which had become a risk for the state. Hizbullah’s leader Velioğlu was captured dead on 17 January 2000 in a villa in the Beykoz district of Istanbul where he was hiding. Edip Gümüş, who became the leader of Hizbullah after Velioğlu, was caught and tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The relationship between Hizbullah and the AKP, which is now allied with HÜDA-PAR, started in 2011. Gümüş, who promised the AKP that he would not take armed action in Turkey and turn the group into a political movement, was released on 4 January 2011 under a law enacted by the AKP. Not only Gümüş but all Hizbullah members, responsible for hundreds of murders, were released at the same time. All the freed Hizbullah militants, including Gümüş, went to Iran and continued their activities there. They kept their promise in Turkey; eliminated their armed militants and started activities through the political party HÜDA-PAR.
When we evaluate this electoral cooperation between AKP and HÜDA-PAR in terms of these relations, it is impossible not to take the past into account. The AKP now wants to use Hizbullah, a state project of the 90s, against the Kurds under the name of HÜDA-PAR. We’ll see if it works or not.
A word to those who try to make HÜDA-PAR look appealing to the Kurds… This movement never gave an account of its past. On the contrary, it always acted together with and received support from the state. It was always a well-behaved child of the state. This is the basis of HÜDA-PAR’s cooperation with AKP. Why would the Kurds take sides with a movement against the Kurds, a movement which is used against the freedom struggle of the Kurdish people? Where this movement stands today is no different from where this movement has stood since the beginning.
Let them be together, away from the Kurds.
* Fehim Işık is a specialist journalist, academic and a member of the Kurdish Culture and Research Foundation (KÜRT-KAV). A founding member of the pro-Kurdish Democracy and Peace Party (DBP) established in 1996, Işık was at the party’s central executive committee until Turkish Constitutional Court closed the party in 2002.