The Wise Man of the Turks

By Dr Aland Mizell:

Ismail Besikci - a tuly wise man

Ismail Besikci – a truly wise man

A wise man is someone who knows and sees differences between good and evil, just and unjust, right and wrong, ethical and unethical, moral and immoral. This individual has the ability to deal properly with emotions that create the capability for poise and prudence enabling him to make right judgments and decisions. The wise-man committee has been formed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to explain the negotiations process to the people within a two to three month timeframe. The members of the wise-man committee were divided into seven subgroups for each geographical region to reach out to the people and to persuade them about the importance of the peace negotiations process.

The question is why can elected Turkish officials not persuade their constituencies to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and immoral but instead need to have groups of appointed elders to help explain the peace process. I wonder who decides who is “wise“ and who is not. For more than 40 years the Turkish government shaped the eyes of the Turkish and Kurdish people to see the PKK as inhuman creatures, baby killers, Godless perpetrators, false representatives of the Kurdish people, and cohorts sponsored by foreign countries who do not want a great and powerful Turkey in the region. If the government claims were true, then how can a group of so-called “ wise men” persuade Turks to have peace with an inhuman organization like the PKK within a two or three month time period?

A second important question is what has the wise-committee contributed to solve the Kurdish problem in the past? How do wise-men know what Kurds want and how many of them have really studied even the history of the Kurds? What will a wise man tell the people about peace or what kind of peace will he posit? Can the wise commission persuade the people about a peace process in only two months?

Having said that, whoever invented peace has contributed one of the best inventions of all time; therefore, we all should endorse peace and condemn violence, immorality, injustice, oppression, and racism. But likewise, we should condemn the notion that “Turkishness” is superior, that Turkey is the most magnificent nation, and that Turks are the best race.

I believe there is only one wise man for the Turks; it is not Erdogan; it is not Gülen; it is Ismail Besikci, who saw the Kurdish issue as a moral, ethical, and just human rights issue, Professor Besikci is an icon for freedom of speech because for many years he was the only wise Turkish person in Turkey to stand against the Turkish oppression and to speak loud and clear in defense of the rights of the Kurds. He was neither coward nor meek; he was wise. He knew he was right and that time will prove it. He spent 17 years of his life in prison for speaking up against the Turkish government. Before being released from prison in September 1999, under an amnesty for writers and journalists, he had been sentenced to a total of over 100 years of jail time for standing up for justice and freedom for the Kurds.

Thus, a wise man is one who makes his own decision based on moral and ethical values, while an ignorant man follows public opinion. No one in Turkish history has had to face a harsher prison sentence than Professor Besikci has. Despite the harsh prison sentence that attempted to silence him, Professor Besikci continues to refuse to be silent and continues to stand for truth. He is the symbol for the Kurds, for the Turks, and for the human rights movement. He is the only Turk who did not betray the Kurds, who always stood up them, and who challenged the brutal Turkish regime. The Prime Minister should have appointed Professor Besikci chairperson of the wise-man committee, so that wise men could sit together collectively, utilizing their stature, experience, and expertise in working towards peace and reconciliation.

I also believe that the Turkish government should give Professor Besikci the Presidential Freedom Award and the Parliamentary Gold Medal of Honor for his determination in facing tyranny and for pressing against injustice and oppression but for equality and fairness for all, so that the next generation will learn the lessons and understand what brotherhood really means. If God created everyone equal but no one superior, then the main characteristic of a wise man is his willingness to be instructed and corrected by the word of God. Popularity does not make a man wise; rather seeing what is right and just makes a man wise.

For example, Gülen missionaries internationally are recognized for their image as an advocate for justice, equality, peace, and interfaith dialogue. They have been very successful in promoting their image, and they are very popular and powerful now in Turkey and around the world. But you will never hear or see one of Gülen’s sermons or speeches mention of Kurdish oppression or the injustice they have received. Instead his media mogul and his followers have launched slander campaigns against the Kurdish people, and whoever does not agree with them or who defends the Kurds, the organization labels them under the category of  “Terrorism“ and calls them terrorists.

In my opinion Gülenists are the ones who are polarizing people and dividing them into categories of  “us” and “them,” into “Hizmetten” and “ Hizemt disi.”  Therefore, the reason Gülen’s missionaries have been more successful than any other Islamic missionary group is because of the massive efforts devoted to creating a public image of itself that is at odds with reality. For example, on March 16, 1988, a heinous crime was committed against the Kurdish people in Halabjah, a crime that led to the deaths in one day of more than 5,000 and more than 12, 000 over the course of three days. For the Kurdish people genocide is not history; rather it is a living memory. Is it not our duty as a civilized society to remember and honor the victims?  We have never heard any statement from Mr. Gülen, nor have we heard anything from his media empire with anyone writing anything about the Halabjah genocide? But when the Russian Soviet tanks in 1999 marched to the capital of Azerbaijan–Baku, Mr. Gülen cried and was hospitalized for his Turkish brothers who were oppressed by the Soviet soldiers and tanks.

Another example, in1993, when Serbian Milosevic committed genocide against so many Muslims in Bosnia, again Gülen’s media mogul Zaman issued a special issue with a black front page to dedicate it to the Bosnian Muslim brothers and put the headline in the Zaman newspaper  “While Bosnia is bleeding, we cannot have fun“ during the New Year’s Eve of 1993. But we never heard the same newspaper, the same people, or the same leader issue a special dedication to the Halabjah genocide when Saddam Hussein used poison gas against this Kurdish town, killing thousands, and there was not even one shred of criticism against Saddam Hussein. Can selective justice advocate peace and equality?

I personally do not think the Turkish government and Gülen’s religious missionary group sincerely believe there is a Kurdish issue or genuinely want to solve it. Because the Kurdish issue requires a genuine approach to solve it and they are not genuine about it. The Turks and Gülen’s missionaries have switched positions and believe there is now a Kurdish issue and that the Kurdish issue could be solved via the Kurds’ assimilation and the Turks’ using the religion card. The more the Kurdish issue delays, the better it is for Gülen’s missionaries to convert the Kurds to be loyal to Gülen’s ideology, to open more schools, and to indoctrinate more Kurdish children. For example, Gülen has already conquered in the KRG area, with more than 20 schools, hospitals, universities, oil companies, banks, and the Kurdish channel Dunya TV owned by the Gülenists. Yet, the biggest obstruction for the Kurds to rule themselves is not Turks, Persians, Arabs, or any others. The Kurds are themselves the greatest obstruction. The strength of the Kurds comes from their unity. As long as the Kurds are united, others cannot continue to oppress them.

Kurds should remember that oppressors have divided the Kurds from 1920 until now, so that 40 million Kurds have not been united. However, globalization and the global world have opened another door of opportunity for the Kurds to unite. Therefore, I do believe that the KRG has a historical Kurdish responsibility to play a very important role to internationalize and to be more aggressive. For Europe, America, and even Asian nations, countries should not be silent about the Kurdish issue.  Why don’t the BDP and KRG open offices In China, Latin America , even Africa? The Kurdish BDP party should focus more on the international level to promote their issue and to create more lobbies in Europe, America, Asia, and even Latin America. Kurds already have a good lobbying base in Europe but need economic funds. The KRG government has  a great deal of money and can help encourage more professors to be interested in the Kurdish issue, to do the research and to recruit more lobbyists who are pro-Kurds in Europe, in the USA, and even in Asia.

The KRG government should not solely depend on the Turks economically and should diversify their economic dependency.  Also, the KRG should not get into Turkey’s religious Sunni card by using the Kurds against the Shia group in the majority in Iraq. Because the more enemies the Kurds have, the better it is for the Turks to rule Kurds. If the Turks are the Kurds’ neighbors, so are the Iranians as well. The Kurds should remember that both countries are oppressors, so they should play smart. They should realize that the religious card is cheating the Kurds and no one else.

If you notice, Gülenists now have changed their position on the peace negotiations, and they are not happy with the PKK strategy to have the European Union remove their name from the terrorism list and let them call themselves activists. I believe the PKK should have done this a long time ago, but still it is not too late, and they should likewise make all efforts to push America to do the same thing. Because Gülenists use terrorism as an advantage against those who defend Kurdish rights, they consider them as terrorists and consequently close all the Kurdish students’ houses, newspapers, and media. A Zaman columnist and one of those closely associated with Gülen, Huseyin Gulerce, said,  “We all should be aware of the dangers. We should remain cautious, prudent and vigilant.”

The editor of the same newspaper, the Zaman, Ekrem Dumanli, criticized the PKK, the BDP, and the KCK for trying to remove their names from the terrorism list and appealed to western media not to use language such as “activists.” Gülenists already know that Kurdish human rights are the greatest challenge to Gülenists’ Turkish religious nationalism. Consequently, Gülenists are now trying to blame the secular government and the military and the Kemalist establishment. Turkish religious groups never offered a meaningful solution to the Kurdish question. Gülenists claim that they opened schools for poor Kurds and educated them while the secular Turkish government did not, which is true , but they stole the Kurdish mind and left the body by teaching Kurdish kids how great Turks are and that is why Gülen complains about the inability of the state to educate all the Kurds, and he sends imams door to door. Gülenists are all thirsty for a total monopoly of power and are against any form of Kurdish politics whatsoever. Thus, the only obstacle to having total power in the South East is the PKK, and Gülen knows that more than two million Kurds still agree with the PKK’s policy and strategy.

The solution for a peace that would prevail would be a new constitution that is not based on Turkish nationalism and Ataturk’s ideas. As of now, the constitution that the AKP and Gulenists are thinking about is still based on Turkishness and Turkish nationalism.  Indeed, the majority of Parliamentarians have a nationalistic and Gulenist mindset and want the new constitution to be based on ideas about nationalism, Gulenism and Ataturkism.  In short, Justice is the answer to the Kurdish issue, not Gulenism, not nationalism nor Ataturkism.

Dr. Aland Mizell is with the University of Mindanao School of Social Science, President of the MCI and a regular contributor to The Kurdistan Tribune,, Mindanao Times and Kurdish Media.You may email the author

5 Responses to The Wise Man of the Turks
  1. Matt
    May 5, 2013 | 08:57

    Well Done Dr. Mizell: Proffesor Besikci is truly wise and understand injustice of Kurds , prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.he stands side of justice even if cost his life. he is my hero and mentor

  2. Suleiyman
    May 5, 2013 | 11:46

    Why instigate theses sensitive issues at a time when the peace process started? Can you also try to be wise? That would be your next project

    • Matt
      May 5, 2013 | 12:34

      suleiyman: you are naive or does not want to undertsand . Kurds have been waiting for more than 40 years with same stories and lies. Please disseminate the lies

  3. Dr. M. Koohzad
    May 5, 2013 | 19:29

    I do not believe that Dr. Mizell has instigated any sensitive issue that is new. He is, indeed, very wise to tell the truth. I do not think you are wise enough to suggest Dr. Mizell’s future projects. The Kurds do not have to bow or keep silence in front of their blood enemy, the Turk, because they have decided to talk peacefully. The Kurds do not need permission from the US, the EU, the UN, or the AKP to demand their basic human rights. It is wise of them, of course, if Ocalan and Erdogan have decided to peace talks. Both are smart and wise to finally recognize that military mentality and violence cannot solve the problem.

    Before any planned peace talks had take place anywhere in the world throughout history there has always been instigation, attempts in derailing, anticipation, and even prediction of the outcomes. Both sides want to show they are strong and talk about uncompromising goals. The Kurds have waited for a century for such an opportunity. They do not need to be mute and act like dummies so the Turk may get angry and not show up at the table. It is wise to believe that peace negotiations may result in solving the Kurdish conundrum.

    • Levent Guney
      May 8, 2013 | 14:32

      The fact that you call the Turks ‘blood enemys’ of the Kurds shows how wise you are Dr M Koohzad. If you had said that the Kemalist-laic elite of the Turkish Republic is the blood enemy of the Kurds. I could have understood. I made a post today and I will put it again for you, perhabs it will give you some new views:
      Many people don’t understand politics in Turkey. The first thing to understand is that we Turks have been brainwashed since 80 years with a form of nationalism where other nationalities are completely denied . This fact is a psychological weapon for a certain elite who prefer to keep the status quo. The point I want to come now is the following. If the PKK would fight for independence the Turks would easely accept a complete war, even if this is against their interest and even if it would mean thousands of deaths. This would be a tragedy for the Turks and the Kurds. What the AKP and PKK are doing is very wise. They work in steps. The biggest task is for the AKP because they are preparing the Turks psychologically to accept the Kurds. For exemple the state channel in Kurdish launched a couple of years ago wasnt done only for the Kurds, it was mainly done so the Turks would start to accept the existence and the rights of Kurds in Turkey. The AKP could never have done this 8 or 10 years ago because the status quo people would have activated by the media the ‘button’ nationalism of the brainwashed Turks. their would have been mass demonstrations, even the people who voted on the AKP would have been against it. There are still many steps to achieve. Today the majority of the Turks don’t want war but they still don’t accept the fundamental rights of the Kurds like education in Kurds,… But this will be done in later stages. At the last stage the people should decide if they want a nation-state or a federation. The next big war in Turkey is the war for the mind of the Turks. Will the AKP, liberals and real socialists continue to change the mind of the Turks or will the old forces take back control. I hope it will be the first. As Ocalan said, the key to a new Middle East lays in the Kurdish and Turkish problem.

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