Interview with the militants: “Our barrels will bring justice”


On March 31st, 2015 at around 12 o’clock, two militants of DHKC (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front) raided the Caglayan Courthouse in Istanbul and took hostage Mehmet Selim Kiraz, a public prosecutor of Berkin Elvan file. Berkin Elvan, who was shot by still unknown policemen during the June Uprising of 2013, had been murdered after staying in coma for almost one year. None of his murderes were revelead so far, however, despite all the attempts and demands from the family and popular democratic organizations.

Below there is an interview conducted by Ahmet Şık, a journalist for Cumhuriyet newspaper with the militants at around 16 o’clock, 3-4 hours ago before they were summarily executed by the SWAT teams. A twitter hashtag #BizDeSiziSeviyoruz (We love you too) became a Trending Topic in Twitter after the last Twitter post of the militants saying “Our people, we love you”.

Are you going to end your action? Can you tell me about the ongoing negotiations?

Through our Twitter account, we have posted the registration numbers of the policemen who came forward in the investigation file. According to the file, the Criminal Bureau of Security identified this three policemen among the 21 suspects. We have learned that these three police officers might be the ones who shot Berkin. The prosecutor already gave us this information. In the negotiations, we demand that the identities of these three police officers are disclosed on a live TV broadcast. The members of the negotiating delegation told us that it is 99% that Berkin was murdered by these policemen. Therefore we demand the disclosure of their names on a live TV broadcast. We examined the files here. We looked at the photographs of the suspected policemen. The photos of these three police men were framed in red according to the report by the Criminal Bureau. One has the initials G.T. with the serial number 35… We have also shared the registration numbers of the other policemen and we demand the disclosure of their names.

Do you think that your demand will be met?

The names of the perpetrators were known so far but were not disclosed. They will announce and will bring to the court after our attempt. The names of the murderers in Ali Ismail Korkmaz and Ethem Sarısülük cases were also known. But you see the results of the trials. Murderers are never given the necessary the punishment. That’s why we demand the murderers should stand trial in front of a popular court. And this is our second demand.

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Low-Cost Mass Graves for the Working Class: Miners Massacre in Turkey

Wounded workers are rescued as Minister of Energy and other authorities honoured them with their presence.

A mine explosion has just claimed the lives, as of the latest count, of almost 300 workers in Turkey. This event added another link to the long chain of massacres that has taken place during the rule of the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party, AKP) government. Leaving hundreds of workers dead and injured, the massacre has brought grief to the rest of the population, whose sharp anger was already directed toward the government.

The explosion took place in a mining site located in Soma town of Manisa, a city in western Turkey. Formerly a national, state-owned property, the mines were privatized in 2005 by the DG of Turkish Coal, with the operating rights of the mines transferred into a company called Soma Coal.

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Soma Massacre in Turkey: Notes from the Day 3

Hundreds of graves are dug in Soma for the miners.

Hundreds of graves are dug in Soma for the miners.

Capitalism killed hundreds of workers in the mines of Soma. The number of the dead bodies recovered from the dark tunnels reached up to 282.

There is one single agenda for the newspapers, TV channels and in the social media in Turkey today. Interestingly, The Times was ahead of the Turkish press in giving a clearer picture of what happened in the mine. Here is the diagram:


Massacre and Literature: Prime Minister’s Visit

On the second day of the massacre, Prime Minister came to the town to give one of his speeches full of religious references and he called for patience. His speech revolved around a simple idea that the global history of mining was full of disasters:

In England, 204 miners died after a landslide in 1862, 361 miners died in 1866 and 290 miners died after an explosion in 1894,” Erdogan said. “The most deadly mine accident occurred in France in 1906 where 1,099 miners died. More recently, 687 miners died in Japan in 1914. In China, 1,549 miners died after a mixture of gas and coal poisoned them in 1942. Again in China, 684 miners died in 1960. And a mine gas explosion resulted in the death of 458 miners in Japan in 1963. … In the United States, too, which has the most advanced technology, 361 miners died in 1907… There is something called work accident in the literature.

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My Interview on Gezi Uprising in Turkey

Haziran 2013 - Taksim

[In March, Italian comrades from interviewed me about the recent situation in Turkey after the June Uprising. Below are the questions and my answers.]

1) How the Gezi uprising could represent an event in continuity with past social movement in Turkey and what are the most important novelties affecting the society after this phenomenon?

During and after the Gezi Uprising, or the June Uprising as we sometimes say, many comments were made by some intellectuals and columnists, indicating that this uprising meant a complete break from the former historical movements in the country.

This half-baked argument was an attempt to isolate the mass of the protesters from the socialists and from their tradition of resistance that dominates the history of popular uprisings in Turkey with its important days, historical figures and symbols. And after the Uprising, we have seen other attempts to back this argument with so-called ‘social-class analyses’ that limited the scope of uprising with Gezi Park and the protesters with mainly from those of petit-bourgeois origin.

It would be enough, however, to remember that by 2007 radical socialist organizations renounced the government ban on Taksim Square and declared that they will celebrate the May Day there from then on at any cost. After struggling for 3 years to break the siege, the AKP government was eventually defeated and forced to abandon the Square in 2010.

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"The Economy Is Doing Fine, But the People Aren’t": Some Facts on the Economic Background of the Protests in Turkey’da yayımlanan yazım. Türkçesi için tıklayın.

Speaking about the then dictator of Nicaragua, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt reportedly said: “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”  Whether or not Roosevelt actually said it in so many words is disputable, but there is no doubt that it — i.e., dictatorship is licensed in a client state — has been the foreign policy of the United States for years.

Nowadays, the US, together with other Western powers, is taking actions against the Syrian regime, insisting that the regime is a dictatorship that must be toppled.  As is well known by now, the US decided to use Turkey for this venture, touting my country as the model of democracy for the Middle East.  Even before the “Arab Spring” USAID openly stated that “The United States seeks to develop Turkey as a base for regional leadership on organized crime, counternarcotics, nonproliferation, and counter-terrorism” (USAID, Congressional Budget Justification, 2010, p. 386).  Judging by the terrorists’ progress in northern Syria, it is obvious that the Turkish state has become successfully developed as a regional leader in organized crime.

I am sure that Mr. Obama and the oligarchy behind him know that the Turkish regime, too, is a dictatorship and has committed numerous atrocities against its own people.  But then again what matters is whether the US owns the dictatorship in question.  Had Bashar Assad allowed the US generals to realign the Syrian Army with the US interests, and had he opened his country for US military bases as the regime in Turkey long has, he would have been hosted in the White House and allowed to make a romantic declaration of cooperation with Mr. Obama under the rain.  But no.

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The Prisoners of Democracy AKP Style in Turkey

“The remains of the human beings, each weighing 70, 80, 90 kg when alive, fit into just five 20-kg plastic bags. I mean, even their bones had burned down. I am a lawyer and I have seen many autopsies after murders and accidents, but I have never seen anything like this. Even their teeth had melted down. What kind of conflagration is it? . . . .”

These were the words of Necdet Edemen, who was the lawyer of five prisoners burnt alive in a prisoner transport vehicle in September 2011. When the vehicle started to burn on its way to Istanbul, the gendarmeries did not open the door, thinking that the prisoners might escape. The result was the plastic bags full of the carbonized corpses of the prisoners, who can be only identified after DNA tests.

Those who are familiar with the conditions of the prisons in Turkey know that their concrete walls had witnessed charred bodies many times before. To take but one example, in 2000, the bodies of five revolutionary women were reduced to ashes by the firebombs of the army during the ironically named “Operation Return to Life.” The picture of the charred remains of Seyhan Doğan has become an icon that reminds us of the price of being a revolutionary prisoner in a country like ours.

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The Epidemic of Terrorism under Turkey’s Mubarak

* Bu yazı 27 Aralık 2011’de Monthly Review’in güncel politika portalı MrZine’de yayımlanmıştı.

A new epidemic has broken out in Turkey. It’s called “terrorism.” This ideologically transmitted disease (ITD) appears to be extremely infectious. Otherwise how can we explain the large and growing number of terrorists in the country?

The Associated Press carried out a survey on terrorism convictions in the world. The figures are worrying. According to the findings of the survey, at least 35,000 people were convicted of terrorism in the world in the last ten years. 12,897 of them were convicted in Turkey. (For comparison, China, with a population of 1.3 billion, has 7,000 people convicted of terrorism.) In other words, Turkey alone accounted for one third of the world total. A rough estimate shows the size of the epidemic of terrorism in Turkey: of every 5,500 Turkish citizens, one is a terrorist.

Thanks to the efforts of the government, Turkey managed to break another record in prison population statistics. The total number of convicts and pre-trial detainees in Turkey reached 121,000 in 2010, an all-time high. Just nine years ago, when the Justice and Development Party first came into power, that number was 60,000. Did you notice something strange about the political party held up as the “model” of democracy for the “Arab Spring”?

There is another interesting point. Terrorism, oddly, is very widespread among intellectuals in Turkey. According to a report prepared by the Progressive Lawyers’ Association of Turkey, there are around 500 university students who are currently under arrest and charged with terrorism. Evidence? Public prosecutors’ indictments are full of symptoms of terrorism: participating in May Day celebrations, protesting the government on various occasions, and, worst of all, keeping the books of Lenin, Stalin, and Che Guevara at home. . . As if that is not enough, even a professor of law, Büşra Ersanlı, and a publisher, Ragıp Zarakolu, were recently discovered to be infected with terrorism. Alas!

By the way, the Progressive Lawyers’ Association might not be the best institution from which to learn facts about terrorism. Because last month police forces raided the houses of more than 40 lawyers in Turkey, among them the members of this association. The court said it suspected that 33 of these lawyers might be infected with terrorism. They were arrested. The International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights condemned their arrests. It was the biggest wave of arrests of lawyers in the history of the Republic of Turkey. Even in the years of military coups, in 1971 and 1980, we didn’t face anything comparable.

I remember that, just a couple of years ago, the journalists were very hopeful about Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attempts at “democratization.” Dreams have shattered, and now almost everybody is complaining about the erosion of the independence of the judiciary. Some of them even started to question which is worse — the period of military coups or the reign of Turkey’s Mubarak?

Well, the journalists had better pick their words carefully. Because the public prosecutors and the anti-terror police are keeping an eye on them all. Any attempts to hinder the government’s march towards “democracy”? Any suspicious signs of terrorism?

In fact, media professionals are very anxious nowadays. Famous journalists and broadcasters like Banu Güven, Can Dündar, Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, and Ruşen Çakır either have quit or have been forced to quit their newspapers or TV channels because of their critical attitudes to the government. Turkey’s Mubarak and his ministers held a closed meeting with the biggest media bosses and their chief editors to call “for sensitivity in covering terrorism.” That is how “censorship” is spelled under “democracy.”

The journalists in Turkey clearly know what happens to “insensitive” ones. Half a year ago, I wrote about the Yürüyüş incident, a police raid on a left-wing publisher, in which six journalists were arrested. 12 months later, these six journalists are still in prison without any trial. They were read indictments only a month ago. Staying in a high-security prison and not knowing why you are there for 11 months — that is what happens to you in Turkey when you lack “sensitivity” in covering terrorism.

Too bad not all journalists learned their lessons, which forced anti-terror squads to raid their houses and offices, again. On the 20th of December 2011, the anti-terror squads of Turkey’s Mubarak launched raids in five cities of the country. They identified 49 journalists suspected of being infected with terrorism and took them under custody. Just a couple of days later, we were told that 36 of them certainly had a high probability of being terrorists. These journalists were working for the Dicle News Agency, the Etkin News Agency, the Özgür Gündem newspaper, the Birgün newspaper, and the Vatan newspaper. They were now sent to the government’s specially designed quarantine locations: high-security prisons.

A couple of months before, Turkey had already won another judicial championship, becoming the global leader in jailing journalists. For Turkey’s Mubarak, a man aiming to make Turkey a world leader in all senses of the term, this was far from enough. Hence the addition of 36 more to make his record indisputable.

What will happen next? The associates of Turkey’s Mubarak are still worried about the epidemic of terrorism. While I was writing this article, I heard the Interior Minister make a speech about how highly infectious terrorism is. After referring to those who covertly spread this ITD under the guise of “cultural associations,” the minister said:

How are they supporting terrorism? Maybe by reflecting it in their paintings. They write poems and reflect it in their poems. They write daily articles and columns about it. Not content with that, they are trying to demoralize the soldiers and police who fight against terrorism by making them the subjects of their artworks.

Isn’t it funny? Not if you are living in Turkey.