Interview with the DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Action)

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Libertarian perspectives for the Middle East

The interview that we share here was produced during August 2016, just two weeks after the coup attempt of the 16th of July. This also happened a month before the beginning of the big Turkish manoeuvre on the orographic right side of the Euphrates in the Syrian territory to counteract the presence of the SDF militia that had taken that region from ISIS, strategical for the supply lines of the Caliphate.

The following interview is the product of a meeting of several hours with a spokesperson of the Turko-Kurdish anarchist organization DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Action) and it isn’t summarized. The precise interview has been added with fragments from the rest of the meeting.

It is a very urgent piece on our current events, hence why we also recommend reading the article translated by Meydan, the newspaper of the DAF, published on 26 edition year 96 of Umanità Nova (Fight for power, Fight against power). We consider the following interview a necessity to understand the Turko-Kurdish situation and the actions of our comrades in those areas.

D: How has the situation developed in Turkey during these last weeks? Is Erdogan’s power stronger after the coup attempt? How was the meeting between the AKP and Hizmet?

R: As you know, the organization of Gülen and Hizmet was active before the start of the governments of the AKP. When the AKP became a government group they formed a coalition, as Gülen’s movement was very noticeable from within the state apparatuses, police, military and legal courts. Hizmet has several schools, controls part of the education system, universities, the schools for preparation of university entrance tests, high schools, along with the media and healthcare. They all hold immense power. The AKP and Gülen have made a coalition and cooperated, especially in the justice system, thanks to the presence of Gülen’s members among all of the judges and lawyers.  They have proceeded with the arrests and impeachment of many members of the armed forces, members of Kemalist groups and senior officers and top advisers of the general staff.

After this they replaced the arrested members with their own men and have further strengthened themselves, both the AKP and Hizmet, not only in the ranks of the military but also in all the other state apparatuses that were purged, like the police, intelligence services and bureaucracy.

However, during this time disagreements started emerging from these two groups and Erdogan launched a campaign aimed towards expelling Hizmet from the state. However the Gülenists intervened: their members in the justice system started investigating members of the AKP and carried out trials against many government ministers, their families and even towards Erdogan’s own son, accusing him of corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

This has been a critical step, followed by popular protests that have marked a difficult period for the AKP. However Erdogan’s party managed to impose legislative changes that eventually reshaped the laws on corruption, rendering all of the Gülenists efforts through the justice system in vain.

Obviously, after this Erdogan proceeded to attack the Gülenists. He consequently closed all schools dedicated to the preparation of university entrance tests controlled by Gülenists. Eventually a real war situation between these power groups started developing, with both of them targeting each other through different methods.

These legal changes from Erdogan were aimed towards protecting the bureaucracy of the AKP and purging Gülenist groups from the state. This was a huge operation towards the Gülenists, who soon suffered the consequences. For a period they remained passive, however at a certain moment they understood that thanks to their presence in the state they still had at their disposal plenty of useful information, including the government’s plans for completely suppressing them from the scene. Consequently, they began planning the coup.  

Additionally, during the end of September 2016, an alternation was expected in regards to high ranking members of the armed forces and the Gülenists predicted that they would have been expelled from positions related to the military apparatus, so the time to quickly take action was critical. A corroborated hypothesis is that the coup failed due to an information leak that forced the leaders of the coup to rush the start of the operation, acting without their full force or because the factions of the armed forces that had sided with them withdrew their support and warned the government. The failed coup d’état provided the AKP with the perfect opportunity for attacking the Gülenists and proceed with an extreme purge against them. Having worked together for years and both being deeply rooted in state structures, it seems like they all had information on each other’s corresponding moves.

Around ten thousand people linked to Hizmet have been fired from the public service sector. A state of emergency was declared and the government was able to operate without having to answer to parliament.

At the moment they are only targeting Gülens group, however now they have declared that they want to punish all organizations referred to as terrorist, like the anarchist revolutionary forces, along with socialists and Kurdish forces.  

D: What consequences will the failed coup have on the Kurdish situation?

In Bakur [Turkish Kurdistan, ndt.] there have been severe confrontations during these last months between the government and guerrilla forces, even if these decreased during the period preceding the coup. However, the government has declared that it will continue to destroy Kurdish cities and villages. The reasons for this manner of action are complex: the strategy of destruction planned by urban spaces is bent on rebuilding a largely controllable space with longer roads that are more accessible for armoured vehicles, but there are also economic reasons: the goal is creating a war economy and favour the processes of land grabbing. After the devastation of the Kurdish villages and cities these will have to be rebuilt. The players that are buying the land are public figures, public building companies, along with private ones: builders linked to the AKP. In fact the main sectors that support the government party are those involved in building constructions, as there are many builders connected to this party. This is one of the main reasons for the destruction of the Kurdish cities and villages. It isn’t very clear what will happen exactly, but we speculate that they will resume arresting Kurdish politicians, journalists, lawyers and activists. The HPD has expressed their opposition to both the attempted coup and the state of emergency. For now the repressive entities are dealing with Gülen, but the next step will probably be to attack the Kurdish political organization.

D: What is the situation of the left-wing Kurds and what is the influence of Marxist-Leninist parties that dominated social movements during the previous decades?

Before the coup of 1980 there was a powerful Marxist-Leninist movement and there were intense struggles in the workplace. After the coup for years no one could do anything, there was a very intense repression. During the 90’s the parties reorganized theirselves, but many of their members had already been arrested or forced into exile, so they had to restructure theirselves again from the very beginning. However, obviously the situation had completely changed from the 70’s when the extreme-left were hegemonic.

For the entirety of the 90’s the same unions opposed any sort of change and weren’t very active. After 2000 we can see how they came back to change certain factors in the workplace. Workers began organizing theirselves again, like in the years preceding the coup of 1980 and mobilizations resumed. However, evidently in Turkey things change very quickly, from year to year. For instance, during the 90’s and 2000 on one year it was possible to strike and protest, whilst on the following year the laws would have changed and repression started to increase again and after that it died down, all of this happening very quickly. And now the m-l (Marxist-Leninist) parties have certain influence but have diminished compared to the past, they are active especially in the Alevi areas [heterodox trend of Shia Islam, ndt]. Some groups are radicalized in universities, however there aren’t any large organizations. The important issue in Turkey is that there is an ongoing war: the war between the state and the Kurdish people, both in Turkey and Syria, with Turkish interventions. Hence, m-l parties had to take action and deploy their forces. Most of them support the HDP (People’s Democratic Party) and Kurdish movements and lots of m-l groups have been fully involved through solidarity actions with the Kurdish people.

D: How is the anarchist movement in Turkey and Kurdistan?

In Turkey the anarchist ideology was only disseminated during the end of the 90’s. There were small groups that published magazines, distributed translations from foreign publications. There weren’t any organizations, just small uncoordinated groups. In the DAF we started organizing ourselves in 2007, with the goal of creating anarchist activities and traditions for the areas of Turkey, Kurdistan and generally across the Middle East. The idea was to set an example and an anarchist tradition. At the moment we are organized especially in Istanbul and Amed, but we are also active in villages and smaller cities. We are well-known politically and respected, even among m-l groups. For nine years we have been able to create a history of anarchist struggles.

Our role in the solidarity with the Kurdish struggle has been very important for us because in a country where there is a war you must, whether you like it or not, take a stance on this issue. As anarchists, we have been involved during the revolution of Rojava and the attacks of the Turkish state in Bakur.

We believe that our involvement with these Kurdish political groups is important because it allows a reinforcement of libertarian practices among the members of these organizations that before weren’t strictly libertarian.

D.: What will the consequences of the failed coup be on the anarchist movement and, generally, on social movements?

Clearly the failed coup and the state of emergency are a huge threat for the anarchist movement. The state can perform repressive operations against any social opposition, it can arrest activists more easily. Already in the last months there has been a lot repression, especially towards Kurdish groups, but in the future there will be ulterior repressive actions targeting everybody and all political opposition movements, facilitated by the state of emergency.

D.: How is the current state repression affecting the anarchist movement as a whole? Are there any anarchist prisoners? Is it possible to contact them? Has the situation changed after the attempted coup?

Currently there are anarchist prisoners but, generally speaking, they are not in prison for their anarchist militancy, aside from anarchist conscientious objectors. Most of them became anarchists when they were already incarcerated and many have previous political experience through socialist or Kurdish groups. They started contacting us, so we began publishing articles from these prisoners and they organize theirselves. There are also vegan or vegetarian anarchist prisoners that have carried out specific fights to obtain food suitable for their diets and have also started hunger strikes to get food from the outside.

Usually political prisoners are under a lot of strong pressure in prisons but at the same time they are also well organized. Both left-wing revolutionary and Kurdish prisoners are very organized, they manage to have meetings, self-education and sport sessions. Evidently, this has been obtained thanks to the big struggles during the last years. When a new political prisoner arrives in the prison these inmates manage to have him placed in a nearby cell to stay in touch and not leave him alone.

After the failed coup things are beginning to change. It is harder for political prisoners to meet their family and lawyers. Additionally, prisons have been overcrowded, thus entailing further problems. Therefore, there are issues but the organization of political prisoners is strong and I think that they will be able to overcome these problems if there is enough support from outside the prisons.

D.: What is the situation of right-wing groups like Lupi Grigi and other religious groups? Are there any links between these groups and the current government?

Nationalistic parties, like the MHP, are in the government. The MHP is the fourth strongest party, after the AKP, CHP [Kemalist party, ndt.] and HDP. In fact, they have 40 parliament members. However they are not as active as they were during the 70’s and 80’s when they conducted paramilitary actions in the streets. They have also changed their attitudes in regards to the past but they share many of the AKP’s traits, especially against revolutionary organizations and Kurdish groups. They even maintain that the positions of the AKP states aren’t nationalistic enough, yet they still support them.

After the failed coup both the MHP and CHP have furthered their relationship with the AKP. Erdogan and the AKP have explicitly invited them to help the government fight against Gülen. Furthermore, these parties have proved themselves to be very radical through their support of the Turkish government against Hizmet.

On the Kurdish issue the MHP demands even stronger attacks towards Kurdish groups. However, they are satisfied by the AKP’s actions against them.

They clearly state that the government is adopting their ideas on the Kurdish issue: attack the population, massacre them and destroy the city.

D.: In the last years we have seen mobilizations in the mining and industry sectors. From Italy we have been able to see the fights in the FIAT factories of Turkey, but we know that there have been more widespread struggles. What is the general situation in these fights? How have you been involved in these workplace struggles?

Most workers are organized through the main unions. One of the most important ones is the DSK, but it isn’t a radical union. The main struggles in the workplace during this latest period have been in the productive sectors. These have the worst working conditions and there is a high rate of work-related deaths, like in the mining, textile (especially in jean factories) and construction sectors. Therefore the fights are aimed towards directly saving lives rather than achieving the usual rights.

In the last year we have been active in the Construction Workers Union, a new union that isn’t federated to other unions like DISK. It is an independent union, like the DAF and we are very involved and active in this organization. This union is working towards conveying worker’s opinions. For being such a newly-formed union it has become well-known very quick because it adopts campaigns of direct action: closing down construction sites and also manifesting around construction companies. This strategy has often been successful: victory is achieved within a few days, on some occasions even after a couple of hours because it directly stops production and the economic damage it causes to the owners is immediate. On the whole, in Turkey there are worker organizations that are spreading the fight to obtain better economic conditions. We find it reaffirming to see this new style of industrial action emerging, which is much more radical than those of bigger unions like DISK.  Many small unions are embracing more radical and direct styles of fighting. I think that in the next years there will be good opportunities for anarcho-syndicalism and anarchist intervention amongst workers.

D.: First you mentioned that one of the main foundations of the AKP is the construction sector. Therefore, we imagine that the fights of the new unions through direct action campaigns in this sector directly damage the government? At the moment have there been any repressive processes towards these unions?

In the attempts of Ankara we lost 5 comrades who were very active through trade unions, but other than that there haven’t been any particular repressive attacks so far.

The system of fighting by blocking construction sites and protesting in front of building offices has one clear advantage: other than damaging the owner’s economic interests it also immediately ruins the public image and reputation of these companies, which is very important in our society. Furthermore, as there are many ongoing construction projects even a single day of fighting by striking loses their precious time and the bosses prefer making concessions to the workers rather than asking for police intervention, which could risk extending the strikes and losing money for the building company.

However, evidently in some cases the police have heavily intervened against workers. But at the moment we can’t say that there has been a particularly strong and special pressure from the government towards trade unions that organize direct action campaigns.

D.: Antimilitarism is an important point for the anarchist movement. How have you approached this argument and what activities do you carry out in this area?

In Turkey there is obligatory military service and this is one of the main issues that antimilitary organizations are fighting against. There is a strong movement of conscious objectors, we are among the most active groups in this area and we can say that all anarchists are objectors and we are conducting a fight against mandatory military service. Due to this anti-militarist perspective we are constantly accused by the public opinion of instigating hatred, mutiny and desertion. Many of us have been arrested for not showing up to the military service. We have a group, the Association for Conscience Objection, founded in Istanbul but active in all the country that gives legal assistance to those that don’t want to go to the army or those in the army that want to get out. A common action for the objectors is publicly stating their own opposition to the military service and militarism through press releases or declarations done in public spaces. Usually the objectors are arrested but we start providing support and legal assistance, along with organizing solidarity campaigns. We are part of War Resistance International and the European Bureau for Conscious Objection. We publish reports of our activities and of those associations with which we have international contacts, as every year we try to achieve the widest amount of diffusion possible.

D.: In the last years of the AKP government we have been able to see how oppression has increased against women. How does the anarchist movement deal with this topic? Are there an anarcho-feminist movements?

In Turkey there is a feminist movement and there are anarchist women. We have a very serious issue with the murder rate of women, so there are campaigns dealing with this issue. Obviously the AKP government, like many other governments, attacks women. The AKP wants women to stay home, be mothers and educate their sons to become soldiers. There are explicit declarations from the government encouraging this attitude. There are government campaigns against abortion, which at the moment has been banned beyond the tenth week, so many women are fighting for this liberty.

Anarchist women are part of the general movement of female struggles and they are trying to create their own organizations in order to take independent actions related back to anarchism.

Text taken from Umanita Novà: http://www.umanitanova.org/2016/09/14/prospettive-libertarie-per-il-medio-oriente/

Translated by Pietro Casati (pietrokuyath@gmail.com)

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On the attempted coup in Turkey

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Istanbul Yenikapi Rally that was realized last Sunday is an important example showing the extent of political mobilization in Turkey, happening in the last month. The rally, which was joined by five million people and the leaders of opposition parties (except HDP), showing “unity of the protectors of democracy”, actually had multiple messages targeting both domestic and foreign politics. During the coup process, which can be described as the clashing of power groups inside the state, it looks like president Erdogan and AKP Government managed to talk different political groups into their “politics for coup process”.

What Happened?

The existence of state on the lands we live on, is directly related to the existence of the army, especially considering its relation during the founding process. Coup is a term that has an important place in the political life of the Turkish Republic. One can see how the coup, as an inevitable political reality of the existence of state in these lands, affects the current state policies considering the latest coup that occurred, the 1980 Coup. What happened on July 15, has a character that continues this political reality. The army who wanted to intervene the political power tried to take control of strategically important state buildings; many bureaucrats in strategically important positions were taken hostage, the parliament and intelligence buildings were bombed, bridges and airports were blocked by soldiers, clashes occurred between soldiers and the police. The five hour coup attempt was terminated with different and rapid maneuvers of the current government and especially of president Erdogan. Among these maneuvers, notable factors are control of the media, control of the civil and mass mobilization through the media and the control of law enforcement under Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Mobilization

Current political power was able to maintain a massive mobility since July 15 under the name “democracy watch” especially targeting the street and military areas. To create the civil mobilization that stopped the tanks marching towards the bridges blocked by soldiers on the night before July 16, AKP have been using all facilities of state. Since July 15, while this mobilization is identified with sacred values of the state, and the ones who lost their lives in this mobilization are declared “martyrs” with stories of heroism, a state of continuous vigilance is tried to be created by steadily pumping hate and revenge. The big rally mentioned above is en extension of this state of vigilance. We see that part of the mobilization on the street is also targeting various sections (Kurdish, Alevi, Opposition) that stand against the state in different areas. AKP and Erdogan, which hold the current political power, have become a platform for Islamist-nationalist formations. This is shown clearly by the symbols created by the process.

Cover Of Democracy

Each coup is a process by which the state oppression shows itself in a physical and violent form. It is nothing but putting pressure on the oppressed using force and violence to take over the political power. As revolutionaries who experienced the period when military coup of 1980 directly murdered, tortured and repressed the revolutionaries and the oppressed, and the period following it, we know too well what coups really are.

We also know what is being tried under the name of allegedly anti-coup “democracy struggle” since July 15. The state of being “elected power” which is raised as an argument against the sections that plotted the coup, plays an important part in legitimizing current position of AKP and Erdogan. All political discourse they raised since July 15 is in fact related to this cover of democracy.

We have emphasized before that AKP and Erdogan have made explicit their characteristic of being a platform for Islamist-nationalist sections. Especially considering the struggle of these sections against pro-coup, laicistic, radical Kemalist power groups inside the state since the founding of the state, it can be seen that there is an existential contradiction between this platform and the army and republican bureaucrats. As much as this contradiction seems like pro-democracy, it is really far away from it. To see the distance, it is suffice to look at the “demands” in the street. Death penalty, presidency with extra authorities, and many other demands based on the same Islamist and nationalistic values are hidden under the cover of democracy.

While democracy is sanctified by the current political power, demands of the 51% who voted for this political power in the latest elections are described as the will of the people. The reality is even farther away from this. Current political power is trying to sell its plans and strategies as the people’s demands. Since this platform is against all “political values of the West”, its play of pro-democracy is not realistic.

It must be noted, on the other hand, that we should not fall into the same trap that some socialist organizations fell into while doing the analysis. Our criticism above does not mean that we embrace the democratic values of the system. In fact, it is the same democratic system that makes possible “the majority oppress the minority” under the play of pro-democracy. Inside this democratic system, when radical Islamist take power, they are the pro-democratic; and when the nationalists or liberals take power, they are. This is the exact message that AKP and Erdogan want to give to the West; “we are democratic”.

Who Plotted The Coup?

In our assessments from the start, we indicated that the current process is a result of the power groups inside the state fighting for power. It’s known that since the first elections that AKP started to hold the state power, AKP has relationships with the Gulen Community which was gaining popularity especially in the international media. Even Erdogan himself declared in a recent rally, that he had relations with the Gulen Community and that he was deceived and apologized from the people.

Fethullah Gulen, who is a religious authority and community leader have had an increasing influence on Turkish politics in the last thirty years. This increasing influence reached political power with AKP and opened the door for organizing significant positions inside significant state agencies. Current AKP power also benefited from this positional convenience. Conservative identity of the party allowed this. Fethullah Gulen was seen as an important spiritual leader until last four years by party members and Erdogan himself. The peak of this fight for power in the last four years due to various political and economic reckoning is this coup attempt. Considering the depth of their relations and the relations of coup plotters with Gulen Community, the process defines something very different from classical contradiction between Kemalists and conservatives. This is a clash of interests. Gulen and his community which are accused of treason by the political power, are just one side of a broken partnership.

Scenarios

Since the question is the political power of the state, it’s obvious that political clash of power groups inside the state has a place in international schemes. Since the day of coup attempt, in a process where all TV channels, newspapers, radios, except the revolutionary ones became a part of the mass media various scenarios were continuously broadcast and are still being broadcast. Most of the scenarios state that the coup is made by the US with the hand of Gulen Community, due to the fact that Gulen resides in US. The scenarios often talk about the coup attempt is being designed by CIA due to anti-West international politics of the Turkish state.

Other scenarios talk about the coup attempt being designed and operated by AKP and Erdogan himself. These other scenarios emphasize that Erdogan who would reinforce its power as a result of this process would eliminate all opposition in this position. Of course the oppression politics against the Kurds plays an important role in creating this context of no opposition. AKP, CHP, MHP which acted as “unity of democracy” since the beginning of the process followed a policy that explicitly left HDP out, creating an allegedly “coalition of democracy” accusing HDP and the Kurdish movement to be a part of the plot and thus disabling HDP.

Another scenario as part of the same process of disabling is the war scenario. In this scenario, following the violent operations it made in a period of one year especially in North Kurdistan, its emphasized that the state getting ready for massacres at even larger scales. Within a conjuncture where the line between civil war and foreign war disappeared in the last ten years, one cannot but think that one end of the war will be directed to Rojava and Syria. Considering Syria and the mobilization in Middle east geography alone, it’s possible that the coup process is part of other international schemes.

State Of Emergency For Who?

It’s important for us revolutionary anarchists to analyze well all scenarios above as possibilities with respect to our near and distant perspectives. We need revolutionary strategies made with these perspectives. However, apart from all these scenarios, we as revolutionaries feel the practical repercussions of the State Of Emergency process since July 20.

The state is in a process of reconstruction since July 20. Operations in the army, police, judiciary, economic centers, ministries, municipalities, etc are still going on. The state which is a mechanism of oppression and violence, becomes more oppressive and more violent with this delegated legislation, and apart from the sections related to Gulen Community, increase the attacks on revolutionaries, taking advantage of the process.

Populist opposition engaged with the power, big media pool which became the voice of political power, law enforcement directly reporting Erdogan, fascist mass ready to mobilize with Islamist-nationalist values, army ready to attack near geographies within international conjuncture… Possible dangers awaiting the oppressed and the revolutionaries in this geography.

The fight of power groups claiming political power over a device rising above economic and political injustice; is nothing but the hegemony of the oppressors over the oppressed gaining permanency in order to destroy the freedom of the oppressed. Neither the apparent or implied dictatorship, nor military or civil formation, nor coups or elections of the political powers that are enemies of the people have any relations to peoples will. We, who believe that life of freedom cannot be created by coup nor by elections, know the existence of state as a coup to freedom and our revolt will last until it creates a free world. What we all need is, not getting hopes up from the fight between the powers, but to know that hope is revolution for freedom.

Huseyin Civan (DAF member)

Article taken from http://www.umanitanova.org/2016/08/29/sul-tentato-golpe-in-turchia/

Translated article sent by Lorenzo Coniglione from Umanità Nova

 

Kurdish journalists in Turkey: We will not remain silent

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Arrests, beatings and censorship: Indeed, Kurdish journalists in Turkey work alongside harsh demoralizing conditions imposed by the Turkish state. In January 2016 I was in the Kurdish city of Nusaybin, close to the Turkish-Syrian border, where I met a young Kurdish journalist. Meltem Oktay welcomed me and my friend Onur into a Tea house in the central park of Baris. Native of Dersim, she arrived here to report for the press agency Dicle Haber (Diha) the brutal war that the Turkish state for months has been conducting against the Kurdish population in the south-east of the country.  “I feel like it’s my duty to expose to the world what is happening here”. This is her main reason for working in such a dangerous area of the world. In fact, she has done everything possible to expose Turkey’s perpetrated war crimes in order to help the Kurds. Without her work, along with the efforts of her colleagues in the press agency Diha, it would have been impossible for foreign journalists like me to carry out my work.

It is thanks to people like Meltem Oktam that important information like Turkish fire tanks, artillery, executions performed by state snipers and targeted expulsions have been released to the public. For this bravery journalists like her face severe risks because the Turkish state will persecute them mercilessly. For instance, on the 11th of April Special Forces assaulted the room of Meltem Oktam and her colleague Ugur Akgül in Nusaybin. “They knew that we were unarmed, yet they threatened us regardless with their weapons. They threw me into the ground, kicked me and called us terrorists. They also told us that there was no room for scum like us in this country!” Akgül remembers. “In the police station physical violence was soon replaced by psychological abuse: we were constantly threatened with torture.”

The state’s revenge

Akgül is now free, however Meltem Oktay is still under arrest: The institutions accuse her of working for the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party). She currently shares this fate with twelve more journalists from the press agency Dicle Haber (Diha). Furthermore, these journalists seem to be the only obstacle for the Turkish ruling class: for instance, during the 28th December, these reporters were the only ones who released information in regards to the Turkish fighter jets execution of twelve innocent civilians in Ortasu. They also documented the involvement of the Turkish state in the assassination of Kurdish lawyer Tahir Elci. Similarly, they were the only ones who exposed the collaboration between Turkish and ISIL soldiers in the borders of Syria.

“Our colleagues want to spread the truth of everything that is happening here. Consequently, the Turkish State wants to punish us for this”, explains one of Oktay’s colleagues. “This agenda is only motivated by revenge”. As for the obstacles that the Turkish State imposes on journalists, Diha Ramazan Pekgöz explains that “straight away, in July (2015), when Turkey started the war, they also shut down our website. From there onwards our website has been blocked 37 times.” Similarly, journalists working in Turkey are constantly intimidated, threatened, arrested and physically abused.

Press freedom

In Turkey around 100 journalists work for the press agency Diha, specifically 50 of those work in Kurdish zones. Arrests are part of the everyday lives of these men and women. Currently ten reporters have been incarcerated in Turkish jails. The criminal charges are always the same: Belonging to an outlawed organization. Since they don’t conform to the usual regime topics provided by the Turkish State, these journalists are accused of creating propaganda for the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, which is banned in Turkey, Europe and USA. “They want to silence us, but we will never succumb to their intimidation tactics”, says Ramazan Pekgöz. The facts speak for themselves: The reporter of Diha Mazlum Dolan was the first one to photograph the completely closed and destroyed city of Diyarbakir – and was consequently arrested. Similarly, the reporter of Diha Nedim Oruc that documented and exposed the tanks attackers in the Silopi attacks was also arrested. Additionally, the reporter of Diha Nuri Akman who was reporting in the cities of Kobane, Cizre, Nusaybin – was also arrested.

All of these journalists, their stories and what they must endure on a daily basis to do their jobs in a war zone has been completely ignored by the western public and media.  “If in Turkey there will ever be freedom of press it will only occur if Kurdish journalists are able to work freely”, explains Ramazan Pekgöz. Currently this seems impossible. The situation, explains the journalist, who was also incarcerated previously, “is much worse than of that during the 90s”.

Written by Norma Santi for Umanita Nova

Translated by Pietro Casati

Turkey and Total Repression: Immunity and Prison

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Whilst the Turkish colonist and fascist oligarchy pursues its destructive policy in Kurdistan, the Turkish state and president Erdogan are steering towards an increasingly authoritarian regime. The new war against the Kurds started in July 2015, after the suspension of the peace process and also following the imposed isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. After this event suicide bombings against civilians began to occur, which UIKI (Italian Logistic organization of Kurdistan) accused of “being an operation formed by AKP (Justice and Development Party) and ISIS working together”. Thus, 5 people were killed in Diyarbakir, 33 in Suruc and hundreds in Ankara. In these same attacks another 900 people were injured.

In the second phase of this operation the military and Turkish police got involved in the action. For months, in many cities of Kurdistan an authoritative military curfew was imposed. Cizre, Silopi and Sur were completely destroyed, in fact in Cizre 120 civilians were burnt alive in a canteen. This massacre was documented by organizations like ONU, HRW and Amnesty International. Nusaybin, Yuksekova and Sirnak are still enduring similar atrocities and most Kurdish cities are systematically under attack on a daily basis. Similarly, another 800 civilians, mainly women and children, were executed by the Turkish military.

Anybody who has voiced their opposition towards Erdogan’s orchestrated war has been heavily threatened, including 1028 academics who signed the appeal “We will not take part in these crimes”. Many of these scholars have already been fired from their jobs, whilst the media has been widely silenced through the threat of legal action. In fact many journalists are currently in prison and whoever has the courage to oppose Erdogan’s omnipotence has been labelled as a “terrorist”.

Presumably, the goal of Erdogan’s announced “reform of the state” is that of emptying the parliamentary system. An important step towards the direction of this objective has already been accomplished through the withdrawal of parliamentary immunity of the deputies of the opposing HDP party (Democratic Party of the People) by accusing them of helping the PKK (Kurdistan Working Party) by supporting a peace process.

Complicit with the AKP (Justice and Development Party), the government’s party and Prime Minister Davutoğlu have been working with the MHP (Fascist Nationalist Movement Party) and the CHP (Republican People’s Party). This once again confirms that the only factor motivating the parties that represent the nationalism of the State (AKP, MHP and CHP) is their mutual hostility against the Kurdish people.

The UE, USA and NATO have limited themselves to meaningless declarations, such as “democracy is in danger” or even “the quality of democracy is declining”, thus minimizing the severity of what is currently occurring and also decreasing their responsibility in regards to the fact that these dictatorial atrocities have been committed by their own strategic ally. Meanwhile whilst the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, risked stating that these events represented “a huge blow to Turkish democracy and political freedom” the chancellor Angela Merkel, who approved the agreement for Turkey to ban refugees, declared that “she will solve this issue in the future”. Her behaviour is probably influenced and appreciated by Erdogan, who consequently won’t have to worry about any foreign interferences. However from the perspective of the Kurds: “Democracy in Turkey is over”

If indeed, on a purely academic hypothetical basis Western powers wanted to save democracy and impose stability in the region, instead of collaborating with a State that supports ISIS and starts wars against the Kurdish population they should apply economic, military and political sanctions in Ankara. In regards to the objection that Erdogan was democratically elected, it is sufficient to remember Hitler’s similar “democratic” ascent to power.

It is a well-known fact that when a regime wants to get rid of the opposition from Parliament, it must do nothing other than take away their immunity in order to incarcerate their members. These are what appear to be Erdogan’s intentions. In the meantime he is eliminating the opposition by implanting militants in the streets, prisons and mountains.
Written by Gianni Sartori for Italian anarchist newspaper Umanità Nova

Translated into English by Pietro Casati