Prisoners? struggle Refusing to surrender

The London section of the Turkish left group, the Revolutionary People?s Liberation Front (DHKC), replies to criticisms of the death fast tactic, contained in ?Marxists and the politics of suicide? (Weekly Worker August 23)

Aziz Demir?s article about the politics of the death fast in Turkey gives us an opportunity to explain to you our critique of ?European leftism? and its attitude towards the death fast. This current can also be found within certain sections of the left in Turkey and clearly this is the case with Aziz Demir. What do we mean by ?European leftism?? Its main characteristics are: becoming distant to the concept of conquering power; a lack of discipline; individualism; and its level of activity is limited to that which the state allows and finds permissible. In summary we can say that rather than wanting to change the system they become the ?protesting? part of it.

Aziz Demir?s opening remark is that Dev Sol (which became DHKP-C in 1994 - we are sure he knows this) are ?playing out their last act of significance?. This remark is like saying, ?Let them finish themselves off?. This is not the first time people have said this about us. In his second remark he says that because there is silence regarding the death fast it is wrong to continue with it. Who is responsible for the silence and why does he legitimise it? What is he prepared to do to break this wall of silence? Already we can see that there is no contradiction between his remarks and the state. To them all of this is ?permissible?.

We are constantly being told by some that our timing is wrong and now is not the time to resist. There will never be a more favourable time to resist. People are being tortured and killed in the prisons on a daily basis. What is his message to them? Wait for the left in Europe to get their act together? Really what these people mean is ?Don?t resist?. We can see that Aziz Demir, like many on the ?left?, are not only unable to correctly assess the state in Turkey: they are actually under the ideological influence of it. Despite all of this they are still not able to give up the titles ?communist?, ?revolutionary?, etc.

Yes, there does exist in Turkey a tradition of refusing to surrender, of fighting to the last bullet. Aziz Demir believes that this is an anti-communist tradition when in fact it was seen by the world in Spain, Stalingrad, Cuba and Vietnam. His critique of this revolutionary sacrifice is in line with ?European leftism? with their petty bourgeois lives without dedication and endeavour.

Yet for him a petty bourgeois existence is instead characterised by the rural poor, who have to move to the big cities and live in shanty towns. Their crime is that they are not real workers. This strikes us as looking down on people who have nothing in life, but instead we are told that we are the ones that have a ?lack of trust in the working class?.

His class analysis of Turkey is unscientific to the extreme. He says that Turkey is a ?medium developed capitalist country?. With this statement is the denial of the existence of an oligarchy in Turkey or that Turkey is a neo-colony of imperialism. It is imperialism that has demanded the construction of the F-type isolation cell prisons in Turkey. Many in Turkey call these F-type prisons ?IMF prisons?. He also claims that the immigrant community in London comprises very few workers and that most of them are shopkeepers, when in fact most of them are unemployed.

Throughout the article he keeps repeating the need for a true Communist Party. What is his concept of a Communist Party? When he says that we are too centralised and that there is too much discipline in our organisation then we can see that his concept of a Communist Party is neither revolutionary nor Leninist. Instead it is ?European leftism? that does not want to give up the titles. His claim that we brainwash our cadres is yet another sign that he is under the ideological influence of the state. This is one of the many reasons that the state is using to justify the F-type prisons.

He gives us the example of spontaneous workers? struggles that broke out in 1969, which he claims had the state on the retreat. These types of spontaneous mass movements are limited to economic-democratic demands. Of course they are always a welcome development, but they do not overstep the boundaries of the state. Whilst the revolutionary groups who use armed struggle are developing a conscious movement which is directed at seizing power.

We do not know the personal details of Aziz Demir, but he seems to be one of those that left Turkey and the struggle. Strip away the socialist verbiage and clearly we can see that Aziz Demir has made peace with the system. Like imperialism he cannot bear to see the development of a Marxist-Leninist movement in Turkey. Opportunism, the oligarchy and imperialism have been waiting for our funeral for years. This is not the first time they have united against us. Is this now the position that the European left has taken? Often we have found ourselves alone. Often we fight big battles alone, but we are always the ones that win in the end.

What can Aziz Demir say he has done since this resistance started? Not once in his article does he offer his support for the prisoners nor does he condemn the state. Instead he leaves his condemnation for the prisoners. Did he not think that when one thousand prisoners went on hunger strike that this was a serious thing? What were his feelings when the state massacred 28 prisoners? Again did he not think that this was a serious thing? Why did he remain silent to these events? Because he remained silent he has forfeited the right to criticise. His remark that some of the hunger-strikers were released under last year?s amnesty law just shows his lack of understanding. Revolutionary prisoners were not released under this law, and the revolutionary prisoners have never asked the state for an amnesty.

He finishes by declaring that we will be ?won over and transformed?. To what and by whom? The state is trying to make the revolutionaries abandon their beliefs by putting them in F-type prisons. They will not succeed. Neither will anyone else. He remarks that as far as he can see the state will not give in, that it is determined not to. We are the determined ones. Determination comes from having principles. The state in Turkey is not prepared to die for their beliefs and by portraying a murderous fascist state as being more determined than revolutionaries Mr Demir just shows where his loyalties lie. We won our death fasts in 1984 and 1996 and we were not afraid to pay a high price like we are doing today. His attitude is one of ?people can?t change things for the better?. We knew that this death fast would be protracted - that is why we made our appeals to those in western Europe.

The left in western Europe and the legal left in Turkey, barring few exceptions, have been content to watch people die slowly. For them revolutionary struggle and prison resistance is an anathema. Is this their meaning of international solidarity? It is their passivity, marginality and lack of confidence that is holding them back. Over 60 people have died and the European left has remained insensitive to these deaths.

If the Weekly Worker wanted an article on the death fast they could have approached us. Do they agree with the contents of this article? If so then this means that they do not care and that they are being complicit to what the state is doing in Turkey. With this attitude you could have asked Sami Turk, the Minister of Justice to write an article for you.

Do not be silent before these massacres - support the death-fasters.