Anti-NATO demonstrations in Turkey


From Atilim (Weekly revolutionary socialist newspaper)

Istanbul, the capital town of our revolution, did not only witness the NATO Summit of imperialist barbarians, but also the strong resistance of the anti-imperialist people on 28th-29th of June.

Istanbul is the heart of the "Greater Middle East" and the NATO killers wanted to intimidate the peoples of the region by making their Summit in this city. What was on their agenda weas the invasions of Iraq and Afganistan, along with new imperialist plans named under the title "Greater Middle East Project".

The resistance against NATO Summit began as early as the 1st of May, when the labourers in Istanbul abolished with their action, the prohibitions of the fascist Turkish state on the matter of "place of demonstration". The state only gives legal permission for demonstrations in two squares of the city. These two squares, both are isolated from the city and practically the people don´t see or hear about the demonstrations. Progressive labor unions and most of the progressive and socialist left organized a "free 1st of May" which was made in a square called Sarachane in the centre of Istanbul. The Governor of Istanbul declared this demonstration as "illegal" and threatened the workers with police brutality. But 40 thousands of workers, labourers, civil servants, home labourer women, unemployed and student youth came together in Sarachane despite the threats of the state.

Sarachane 1 May gave a strenght and courage to the people for the struggle to smash the NATO Summit. Slogans "No passage to NATO" and "Istanbul will be the grave of NATO" were heard frequently among the ranks of the labour unions and the progressive, revolutionary, socialist groups.

On the 6th of May, the death anniversary of our revlutionary martyrs, Deniz Gezmis, Yusuf Aslan and Huseyin Inan, the leaders of a guerilla group, and 68 youth movements, who were hanged by the state in 1972 and have a very big influence on Turkish and Kurdish people were comemorated all over the country with street actions. In Istanbul, 2 thousand anti-NATO demonstrator gathered in Dolmabahce, were the American 6th Filot was kicked to the sea by the revolutionary youth in 1969. In this demonstration, a new unity between the progressive powers of the country was also declared: Unity Against NATO and Bush. This Unity consisted of 128 different organizations including the Istanbul branches of KESK and DISK, the first a civil serveant and the second a worker confederation. The biggest part of the political movements of Turkey and Kurdistan also took place in this Unity, including our comrades from the Socialist Platform of the Oppressed (ESP), legal parties like the Labour Party (EMEP), Socialist Democracy Party (SDP), Democratic People´s Party (DEHAP), and other revolutionary groups like the Front for Rights and Freedoms (HOC), People´s Houses (Halkevleri), Democratic Rights Platform (DHP), Partisan, etc.

The struggle spreaded contry-wide in the months May and June. Local branches of Unity Against NATO and Bush were established in nearly 30 cities of Turkey and Northern Kurdistan; and in the major cities like Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Adana local Unities were found in a lot of neighborhoods too. Hundreds of street demonstrations were held in many cities. The agenda of NATO Summit turned into a platform on which our oppressed people intervened into politics.

There were also two different sectors of the movement. The middle-class reformist ODP stood in distance to the Unity with its "Global Peace and Justice Coalition". The so-called "Communist Party of Turkey" also isolated its forces from the main body of the movement, stood outside the Unity with its "Commitees Against Occupation".

The reality behind the bombings

The bomp explosions which happened on the 24th of June launched a hard discussion within the reformist and revolutionary left. The first bomb exploded near the Ankara Hilton Hotel, where chief gangster George Bush was declared to stay in, two days before the visit. This was a clear revolutionary armed action, and a revolutionary military group called the Armed Forces of the Poor and Oppressed (FESK), immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. FESK also bombed four branches of the British HSBC Bank hours before Blair´s visit to Turkey in 17th of April. They also put bombs to the offices of sponsor companies for the NATO Summit.

The revolutionary influence of the bomb in Hilton Hotel was decreased by the accidental bomb eruption which happened six hours later in Istanbul. A bomb exploded in a public bus while it was being carried by a warrior of Revolutionary People´s Liberation Front- Troops for Armed Propaganda (DHKC-SPB) for a military action. The target was not the poeple in the bus, and it was a clear accident. This fact was even explained by the Governer of Istanbul. But the bourgeois press and televisions launched a psychologic assault on "Terrorism which assaulted innocent people". But they were not alone. Reformist parties like TKP, EMEP and ODP immediately …‘condemned´ the explosion, and defined it as "an act of the dark forces", even "an act of NATO forces" (the last definition belonging to the …‘Communist Party of Turkey). The reformist daily press which belongs to EMEP, ODP and even DEHAP (Kurdish nationalist movement) propagandated with their highest voice against use of …‘all kinds of violence´. They said resistance should be …‘peaceful´ and …‘without any forms of violence´. But the revolutionaries of our country denounced this …‘nonviolence´ and defended …‘the right of the oppressed to use violence against the ruling class´. The bourgeoise and even the reformist left tried to gather political rent out of the sad accident of bomb blast in a bus. Never in the history of Turkey´s Revolutionary Movement, a revolutionary organisation carried on violence targeting the people.

The violence of the oppressed followed the NATO killers during the whole week of summit. After the explosion in Hilton Hotel, a bomb was found out by the police in Istanbul Airport on the day NATO leaders were planned to land. The airport was classified by the Turkish police as "0 risk area". The bomb was put by the Armed Forces of the Poor and the Oppressed (FESK) into the car park of the airport. On the night of the day which NATO Summit began, 28th of June, a NATO establishment in the centre of Ankara was bombed by FESK. And the next day, when NATO leaders were leaving the country using the "0 Risk" Istanbul Airport, another bomb exploded in an empty plain. The bomb explosion happened when US Defence Minister Donald Rumsfeld was in the airport. FESK claimed responsibility for this bombing too, and stated in its explanation; "The ones who bomb houses and weddings in Palestine and Iraq, the ones who want to choke Venezuella and Cuba, the ones who want to enslave humanity and pull the peoples of the world into pain and grief; ... know that, nothing will remain with unjustice, and the peoples will win. You will lose!

Since you introduced war everywhere, even in the houses of the poor and the oppressed, so the justice of the oppressed will enter wherever you are!"

People´s mass attack on imperialist killers

Our people was against this summit. This was apparent from 1 million and 500 thousand signatuers collected against this summit. But this also showed itself by mass struggles.

The mass actions aiming to stop the summit and to kick out Bush and his killer gang began on the 26th of June. 5 thousand people gathered in Ankara, the capital city, on the day Bush would arrive in Ankara. During the meeting, our comrades from the Socialist Platform of the Oppressed (ESP) attacked the barricades of police which were set up to prevent the people to march towards the city centre and the state buildings. Three hundreds of ESP activists attacked the barricades with stones and sticks. The clash continued for half an hour. Our comrades attacked the barricade twice, and the police responded with heavy gas bombing. The day after, while our a part of our comrades stood in Ankara for protesting Bush´s visit, 30 comrades arrested by the "Anti-Terror" police for preventing our struggle. The office of the ESP was also surrounded by police, but our comrades took the initiative and began marching by leaving the office. They did a 100-people action in the town center against Bush and against the police terror.

On the 27th of June, there was a mass meeting in Istanbul, Kadà½koy. 50 thousand people gathered together for protesting the NATO Summit. The important feature of this meeting was that; it was organised by all the sectors of the anti-occupation movement. ESP also took active part in this meeting.

But the day after, on the day NATO Summit began, reformist ODP and TKP seperated their forces from the main body of the movement. The "Communist Party of Turkey" (TKP) gathered its forces for an action in Taksim, and without even trying to march to the Summit Valley or anywhere, they finished their action and went outside the city for an "Antiimperialist Camp" which began on the 28th of June. During the hard clashes between the state and the anti-NATO movement, this so-called …‘communists´ were in a camp …‘discussing´ about anti-NATO struggle! (Let´s enter a note here; the "Camp" of TKP was sponsored and supported by the United Nations)

Long live the Resistance of Okmeydani

The revolutionary and socialist groups of the Unity against NATO and Bush established a camping place in a park of a labourer district called Okmeydani.

The antiimperialist activists came to the park after the mass demonstration in Kadikoy, on the 27th. They spent the night in the park together. An anti-NATO film was displayed, revolutionary music groups sang songs together with the antiimperialist activists. The number of the activists was 7 hundred. Many people from the neighborhood came to the park and joined the activities. People brought blankets, food, water etc. for the revolutionaries in the park.

The morning after, was the first day of the summit. A demonstration was declared to be done in Mecidiyekoy, a centre of Istanbul close to the Summit Valley. The antiimperialists in Okmeydani formed ranks early in the morning and began marching towards Mecidiyekoy.

More than 2 thousand people began marching. The fascist Turkish police established barricades on the street which the march was going on and brutally attacked the demonstrators with hundreds of gas bombs, plastic bullets, police armoured vehicles.

Anti-NATO demonstrators, which were consisting of socialist groups such as the Socialist Platform of the Oppressed(ESP), Socialist Democracy Party(SDP), Democratic Rights Platform (DHP), and the Front for Rights and Freedoms(HOC), answered the police with a very strong resistance. The antiimperialists constructed barricades firstly in two main streets and collided with police for about one hour. The demonstrators repelled the police at first by a rain of stones, sticks and molotov coctails. The police ranks dissolved and they had to step back.

With gathering its power again, the police started another attack to the demonstrators, and the antiimperialists retreated back inside the streets of Okmeydani. They set up two barricades to prevent the police from entering the neighbourhood. Barricades were set up in nearly every street of Okmeydani.

The heavy gas bombing of the police created a gas cloud which affected the whole district. The demonstrators organized within temselves "glove teams" who wore work gloves in their hands and threw back tens of gas bombs back to the police. They also organized "slingshot teams" who threw the police stones and iron marbles. "Heltah team" was also organised from labourers of health who carried health bags with them. Most of the demonstrators had gas masks in their faces.

26 police and tens of demonstrators were injured in the clashes which continued for about two hours. The demonstrators finished the action for gathering power for the next day.

The resistance of Okmeydani gave a very clear message to the imperialists and the collaborator fascist Turkish state: You can´t decide about the destiny of the peoples behind closed doors. Also the oppressed people have a will, and we are determined to beat off your Summit!

The Resistance of Okmeydani also raised the feeling and conciousness of "trench comradeship". The barricades were defended by militants from different revolutionary organizations against an enemy which was superior in number. All the revolutionaries called each other as "Comrade" behind the barricades.

Second day: To the center of the city

On the night of 28th of June, Socialist Platform of the Oppressed carried the resistance of Okmeydani to the labourer neighborhoods of Istanbul. Two demonstrations were done in Gazi and in Alibeykoy by the ESP. Hundreds of demonstrotors carrying torches shouted slogans protesting the police brutality.

On the 29th of June, the second day of the summit, nearly all the actions were done in Taksim. The police attacked to these demonstrations brutally with hundreds of gas bombs. The Unity gathered with one thousand people in Taksim, and after they were attacked, 5 hundred people from the labour union KESK made a demonstration. They were also attacked by the police. The excess use of gas bombs paralised daily life in the city center and many people who had no relation with the actions were also injured with gas.

Last word: We will smash imperialism

Two months of NATO protests and especially the last week, showed clearly that there is a very strong potential in Turkey for antiimperialist struggle. Our peoples attacked the imperialists and their collaborators on every field of struggle: Cultural, military, mass demonstrations, mass agitation, propaganda, etc.

The clashes also played a …‘legitimizing´ role for militant mass struggle. Many people now think that molotov coctails, barricades, stones and rods can be used against the collaborator police.

"Resistance surrounded NATO": This was our newspaper´s title after the Summit. A very clear antiimperialist, militant mass movement appeared against the gangsters of NATO. What was missing in this big movement was the mass participation of our friends from Europe. The "anti-global" movement should not limit itself to EU countries. Our trench comrades from all countries of Europe should join their hands with us in the struggle to stop such international summits.