Turkey: Down with the repressive Regime of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP!

For a Workers Government supported by the Poor Peasants and the Urban Poor!
Yossi Schwartz
Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)

Our sisters and brothers returned yesterday to Gezi Park to continue the struggle to remove the reactionary AKP-government of Turkey, the Robin Hood of the rich: Stealing from ordinary people to give the public green parks to the land speculators. The Taksim square, the focus of the demonstrations, was calm on Sunday morning, and the capitalist mass media rushed to inform us that the protest is already over.

The spark that ignited the fire was a project around Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul, one of the few green areas left in central Istanbul. It began on May 28, when environmentalists protested against plans to remove the park and replace it with a shopping mall. They were confronted with a brutal police crackdown. On Friday dozen people were admitted to the hospital and more than 60 people detained as police and protesters clashed. (1)

Then on Saturday, thousands of demonstrators marched over the Bosporus Bridge, which is connecting the Asian and European shores of Istanbul. They tried to reach the Taksim Square, which is not only the place of the incident but also a symbol of the labor movement in Turkey. Again the police fired tear gas and water cannon to defeat the protesters. Slogans from the demonstrators were “Unite against fascism!” and “Government resign!” as well as they demand the stop of the shopping mall project.

BBC News interviewed one Istanbul resident, who even reported about police helicopters dropping tear-gas canisters overnight. (2)

However the bourgeois media were wrong to tell the world that everything calmed down on Sunday. The opposite is the case: Protesters began reoccupying the Taksim Square and Gezi Park as the project to destroy the green area and to replace it with a shopping mall is still not defeated. In addition to this a big part of the movement demands also from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to resign.

The Protesters build up barricades at the entrance to Taksim square and around Gezi Park after the Police forces back down awhile. Taksim Square has since decades a huge symbolic importance for Turkey’s labor movement and the political parties and organizations of the left.

Square with big history

On May Day 1977 more than 500.000 protesters gathered together on Taksim Square to celebrate the historical workers day of action. Suddenly shots were heard, coming from the building of the water supply company (Sular İdaresi) and the Intercontinental Hotel (today called “The Marmara”). Security forces intervened not only with shooting at the masses but also with tanks. At this day 42 people were killed and 220 were injured. Needless to say that none of the assassins were brought to trial as the bourgeois “democracy” sees this as a legitimate action. Some 20 snipers were detained by the gendarmerie and handed over to the police.

However, none of them even appeared in the records of the police as the whole incident was obviously led by army and police forces. At the same time more than 500 demonstrators were detained and 98 were indicted. Among the 17 defendants, who had been put in pre-trial detention, three were released before the first hearing and nine were released at the first hearing on 7th July 1977. The remaining prisoners were released soon afterwards. The trial ended in acquittal on 20th October 1989 – this means 12 years after the protest!

On May Day this year workers demand access to the Taksim Square in commemoration of the killed protesters from 1977. The Square was blocked during that day by nearly 20.000-strong police force which attacked the demonstrators with water cannons and teargas. To destroy Gezi Park and therefore to give away an important part of the historically significant Taksim Square to private shopping mall owner mobilized tens of thousands also after the pullback of the police forces on Saturday.

Clashes between protesters and police erupted therefore also in the capital, Ankara for a second day. Protesters had initially gathered in Kizilay Square on Sunday, chanting slogans, singing songs and calling for the government to resign. (3)

The real reasons for the protests

The real reasons for the protests which started as a fight over environmental questions goes much deeper: It is the anger and fight back of the masses against the neoliberal attacks of the capitalist government, which was carried on in religious cloth very sharply against the workers, the lower middle class and the poor during the last years. The struggle against the reactionary government is part of the international waves of protests and revolutionary struggles. Waves that show the massive rise of the class struggle in this revolutionary period but which have not defeated the ruling classes until now because of the lack of a revolutionary working class leadership. The revolutionary struggle can not be victorious, can not really challenge the bourgeoisie without being organized by a revolutionary mass party of the workers and oppressed. Every victory is limited in this period if it is not bound together with the smash of the capitalist system by an armed uprising, a socialist revolution.

The waves of class struggle are now hitting also Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a servant of the American and the European imperialists. The Turkish army generals are trained by US-Imperialism. The AKP-government is an oppressive regime that uses the ugly weapons of chauvinism against the oppressed Kurdish people. It is a government that has a long record of attacking the Turkish workers, the oppressed youth, women and the poor peasants. It is a government run by a ruling class that murdered workers in Çorum and in Sivas that provoked the Workers’ Resistance of June 15-16 as well as the struggles on May Day 1977 and May Day 1996.

Now we have a new wave of provoked resistance – one that answers the massive police brutality in more than 47 cities. The clashes started as the police fired gas and water cannons against the protesters throwing stones. This struggle between armed goons in uniforms and protesters that have only their fists and stones must be changed. It must be based on all the rich experiences of the labor movement in Turkey. Therefore the movement has to make steps to develop to a higher, better organized level of resistance.

Action Committees and Self-Defense Units

It is necessary to organize real defense of the protests and the best way to do it is to build up self defense committees which can perceptively arm themselves and turn into workers militias.

Protests were already held in dozens of other cities on Saturday and since then. This shows the need for a nationwide struggle, led by the leadership of action committees at the occupied places as well as action committees at the work places, schools and universities.

The workers and youth have to build these action committees to coordinate the protest and to be independent of a traitorous leadership such as the labor bureaucracy. Action committees are a preform of soviets – organized cells at the work places and institutions of education which are the basis of a workers government.

Such committees have to organize the whole protest and have also to fight for certain demands, for a revolutionary program of resistance. To protect the movement from any sort of legal penalty or political prosecution of the protesters is a vivid part of this program.

Release all detained protesters! Pay compensation to the injured activists!

Muammer Guler, the interior minister, said police had detained 939 protesters in more than 90 demonstrations across the country. Since then only some have been released. We therefore demand: Release all political prisoners immediately without any penalty!

The interior minister also said that 53 civilians and 26 police were injured. One of the injured civilians was in intensive care unit at an Istanbul hospital. According to records of the doctors in the hospitals more than 1.000 protesters have been injured nationwide until now. We demand the immediate pay of compensation to these injured activists! We demand from the government to pay high compensation to the families of the killed protesters!

It is the task of the movement to judge over the policemen who killed the protesters. We therefore demand to judge the brutal policemen in a proletarian way and to put them in front of a workers tribunal. The bourgeois court will not even raise accusation against these murders! It must be done by the working class itself!

Link the movement with workers strikes

The protest movement today is strongly influenced by the middle class. It has to turn its focus now on becoming a proletarian movement. Therefore it has to organize itself at the work places of the working class. Already now the trade union KESK is calling to organize a militant strike for economic demands but to organize solidarity with the movement and to link it therefore with the movement. This is an important chance to turn in this way the workers strikes into political fights and the protests against the destroying of the Gezi Park into a proletarian movement. It is the chance to organize a general strike to force the government to resign.

The power of the working class in Turkey can shut down the entire economy by an indefinite general strike. What is needed now is a revolutionary working class perspective that includes:

* Support for the right of self determination of the Kurds!

* For an indefinite General strike to bring down the capitalist government! Force them to take back every neoliberal attack from the last years!

* For the building of action committees and self defense units to organize such a general strike at the work and living places of our class!

* Expropriate the capitalists without compensation and put the economy under workers control!

* For a workers government supported by the peasants, the lower middle class, the oppressed women and youth and the poor!

Join the RCIT and help us building a revolutionary workers party in Turkey as well as a revolutionary International, the Fifth’s Workers International!

(1) According to BBC News

(2) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22740282

(3) Al Jazeera’s Gonca Senay, reporting from the city.

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