Turkish struggle against dictators

In the Republic of Turkey there are huge protests against the authoritarian government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkish protesters are angry about the capitalistic nature of their nation. Erdoğan is a conservative president who serves Turkish capitalism very good. The city of Istanbul is one big shop center, very few green area's remain. One of the last green places in the city is the Taksim Gezi Park. The government wants to demolish the park in order to build new shopping centers. This sparked protests from many Turks who did not wanted to lose one of their last green places!    

Many capitalist nations call Turkey a democracy. We revolutionary socialists oppose that. A nation that is suppressing a minority ( Kurdish people ) cannot be a genuine democracy. Also the state of Turkey remain very authoritarian. There are many Turks who got jailed for criticizing ''Ataturk'' and speaking out about the Armenian genocide. A nation that shows disrespect for basic human rights cannot be called a democracy!

The Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Its first president and dictator for life became Mustafa Kemal. This officer in the Imperial Ottoman Army fought for the independence of Turkey from western imperialist powers. After the founding of the new Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal abolished the old Ottoman caliphate, turning the former Islamic nation into a secular state!

But Kemal was not a democrat. He wanted to rule for himself and did not tolerant opposition parties. His Republican People's Party became the only legal party in 1925. In today's Turkey, children are brainwashed with the idea that Mustafa Kemal was a democratic president and that his single party state was needed. A very big falsification of history. Kemal also banned Islamic conservatives, progressive liberals, moderate socialists and the revolutionary communists. The first communist party in Turkey was founded in 1920 during the struggle against western imperialism. But the Turkish communists were never able to build a massive workers party. In 1921 the leadership of the party was murdered. Some say that Mustafa Kemal ordered the killing because he feared competition from the communists. After the founding of the Republic of Turkey, Kemal build a puppet communist party in order to keep workers away from the Communist Party of Turkey who opposed him. After 1925 the party was banned along all opposition to the ''Great Mustafa Kemal Atatürk''.

The ''Great Mustafa Kemal Atatürk'' would rule unopposed until his death in 1938. But it would take another  seven years before opposition parties were legalized. When opposition to the Republican People's Party was allowed, the military was very powerful. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk made sure that the army was to guard the secular principals and to end any government that would abandon his principals. The Turkish Army indeed made sure that many governments were removed from power. Between 1945 and today there were three major coups led by the Turkish Army!

During the cold war the Turkish Military and the American Army worked very close to safeguard capitalism in Turkey. Many leftists were arrested and jailed, leading to the formation of many left-wing guerrilla movements. A famous left-wing resistance group is the Workers Party of Kurdistan. This political party is founded in 1974 and used to fight for a independent and socialist Kurdistan. The Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan  or PKK is called terrorist group by Turkey, the USA and the European Union. But many Kurdish people supported the PKK in their fight against Turkish imperialism. Because the Kurdish people remain oppressed by the Turks who used to ban their language and traditions!

Today the PKK is no longer a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party. After the arrest of their leader and the collapse of the USSR, the party abandoned Marxism-Leninism ( Stalinism ) and the idea of a independent socialist Kurdistan. Today the PKK claims to fight for autonomy of Kurdish people in Turkey. As a Kurdish nationalist party, the PKK did not have good relations with the Turkish left-wing. For many nationalistic Kurds, the Turks were/are the enemy and remain hated till this day!

The military of Turkey took power again in 1980 and prepared the nation for major reforms. Radical capitalism was introduced as the state privatized many enterprises. The military junta was supported by the USA ( to no surprise ) who loved the capitalists reforms. That 650.000 people were arrested and 400 journalists were sentenced to a total of 3315 years’ imprisonment, meant nothing for the USA of Ronald Reagan who loved the anticommunist politics of the military junta!

After the military had created their civilian puppets, new elections were held. This is how Turkish politics used to work in he past. The people elected a government that was not liked by the military. Then the military would stage a coup and remove the government. The people elected another government, yet when this government did something the generals did not liked they removed that government. In total this was done three times between 1945 and 1990! 

Many governments feared the power of the military, this angered many Turks who wanted democracy and respect for their elected representatives. In 2002, most Turks voted for the Justice and Development Party. This new conservative party with Islamic principals won a huge victory over the secular establishment. Her leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became president of Turkey. But the military kept a close watch on this new government!

But unlike previous governments this conservative one did not feared the military. After years of supreme military influence over politics, the Turkish state arrested some retired generals for planning a coup. For the first time the Turks saw a government that fought back. When these generals were jailed for 20 years, the power of the government over the military was restored. But Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would soon lose his popularity, as his capitalist politics would not benefit most Turks!

In the 11 years since he came to power, Erdoğan is loved by conservative Islamic Turks. But the supporters of radical secularism oppose him.. When we look at the map of Turkey we see that most opponents of the conservative government are founded in the western coastal regions. These regions are the most secular because of tourism. Many Turks in the tourist industries are good educated and speak many European languages like English, German and some Dutch. Those Turks are mostly secular in nature, because of their western education. But most Turks inside Turkey remain conservative Islamic. They favor traditionalism and Islamic conservatism!

The Justice and Development Party ( AKP ) is a center-right political party. Since religious parties are banned in Turkey, most religious principals are founded with conservative parties. The AKP is also a capitalist party and supports a market economy. Their main opponent are the social democrats from the Republican People's Party!

In 2013, the government wanted to destroy one of the last green parks in the city of Istanbul. This sparked the anger of many people, they started to gather in the Taksim Gezi Park to oppose president Erdoğan. The president was not amused with these demonstrators and ordered the police to clear the park. Police brutality was huge and many demonstrators were injured. This caused more Turks to join the demonstrations against the Turkish government and the president! 

Fights soon broke out as Erdoğan ordered a harsh crackdown of all protesters. More then 3.000 people got inured and the police arrested 7.000 Turks. The authoritarian use of force caused more and more anger as more Turks the protests  On 17 June, sixty years after the famous East German uprising, the working class of Turkey went on strike. Major trade unions said that the brutality of the police is unacceptable and so the workers stopped working. In Taksim Square Istanbul, many demonstrators were attacked by police teargas, pepper-spray and water guns. The brutality of the police was very hard and many demonstrators were injured!

But president Erdoğan made sure his supporters were ready. As the police cleared the demonstrators, the supporters of the president started their own demonstration. 200.000 conservative Turks came to the capital to support their president. The reason why the president is still popular has to do with the fact, that many Turks have no genuine alternative to Erdoğan. The old secular elite is not trusted and Erdoğan brought some stability after all these years of military dominance over politics!

The demonstrations against Erdoğan are not led by the old elite, although their symbols are used. Turkish flags and the face of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk are mostly used by the demonstrators. Yet none of the Republican People's Party leadership has dared to led the movement. Also the fascist; Nationalist Movement Party oppose the demonstrators and calls them ''leftist scum''. The Turkish nationalists hate the  demonstrators because they unite Turks and Kurds, both their ethnic flags are used in protests. Because the right-wing nationalists of the Nationalist Movement Party hate Kurds, they denounce the protests as ''leftist scum'' 

Revolutionary socialists in Turkey demand;

Full democratic rights

  • Immediate release of all those imprisoned during the protests
  • An independent commission to investigate the police violence composed of elected representatives of trade unions and the movement
  • Freedom for all political prisoners
  • Full democratic rights including the right to demonstrate, to gather, to form parties and trade unions
  • No to any kind of military coup, intervention and interference; full democratic rights including the right to form trade unions for all soldiers and police.
  • Abolish all anti-terror laws and special courts as well as all repressive and reactionary laws, implemented by the AKP government over the last years
  • No censorship, free media – end repression against journalists, bloggers, tweeting people and TV stations, no closure of Hayat TV
  • Freedom and equal rights to practice or not practice any religion, end paternalism of the state, end all attempts to divide and rule. For the democratic rights for all to live their lives as they decide.
  • End the oppression of Kurds, equal rights for all including the recognition of minorities and minority rights. Right of self-determination up to and including the right to form an independent state.
  • Foreign troops out of Syria, no military intervention of Turkey or imperialist powers in the region.
  • For a constituent assembly of representatives, democratically elected in workplaces, neighbourhoods, cities and villages to guarantee full democratic rights and social security for the mass of the population

Jobs, decent wages, social security

  • End the enrichment of a few, end the plans to re-develop Taksim Square, end all profit-driven projects
  • End privatisations, re-nationalisation of privatised property
  • End the attacks on workers in the public sector
  • Significant increase of the minimum wage
  • Decent houses and living for all
  • Nationalise the banks and companies dominating the economy under workers’ control and management
  • For a democratically decided, socialist plan to organise and develop the economy in the interest of the working and poor people without harming the environment.
  • For a government of and in the interests of workers, youth and the poor.
  • International fightback against exploitation, oppression and capitalism. For a socialist democracy, for a socialist con-federation of states of the Middle East and Europe on a voluntary and equal basis!

Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism

Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism