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THE ANARCHIST MOVEMENT IN TURKEY: 2001
In 2001 Turkish anarchists worked within many independent groups andaround particular individuals. The Anarchist Platform has organizedseveral demonstrations in Istanbul: aside from this group, theanarchists of the city have formed a new group, TSK-I (IstanbulInitiative against War and Domination). This group includes ex-membersof IAMI (Istanbul Antimilitarist Initiative) and people connected toKara MecmuA (the Black Review), as well as other individuals. Anarchistsfrom Istanbul participated in First of Maydemonstrations and in the events in Genoa. The TSK-I organized ananti-war demonstration and several meetings. The campaign against MERNIS(a computerized system of identity card numbers) was also one of theirinitiatives.
In Ankara, anarchists have their own meetingroom: the Workshop ofthe Art of the Black Pen, which was created in the city centre in August2001. Far from being exclusively concerned with art, this is also ameeting place for all kinds of activities. Last year an antimilitaristfestival was organized there, and a press conference for the righttoconscientious objection. Some members of the Ankaka anarchist milieualso publish fanzines, including AN kara.
In Izmir, the country's third city, there aretwo main groups: theAnarchist Federation of Izmir and Black Agenda, which drew in otheranarchists after the First of May and the Genoa events. The IzmirAssociation of War Resistors (ISKD) should also be noted: it is animportant anti-militarist organization. This group hosted aninternational conference in September 2001 on 'Antimilitarism andFeminism in Turkey'. It includes a women's group: AntimilitaristFeminists.
In 2002, many independent groups were createdin different cities,including Autonomous Anarchist Groups (in Ushah and Samsun) andAnarchist Initiatives (in Antalaya, Mersin and elsewhere). Black flagswere paraded in Antalaya for the First of May.
On 10 February 2002, a group of five or sixpeople viciouslyattacked a well-known anarchist conscientious objector in Istanbul,during a meeting concerning non-violent methods of struggle. This attackwas obviously a reaction to this person's criticisms: it was almostpredictable that the attackers would respond in this manner. Theaggression was immediately condemned by anarchist, antimilitarist andlibertarian groups, including MecmuA, IAMA, ISKD, Kaos GL (anarchisthomosexuals) and the Ankara anarchists.
Antimilitarist activities are mainly basedin Istanbul, Ankara andIzmir. Many meetings were organized for the international day ofconscientious objection (15 May): there was a three-day festival inAnkara. On 27 October 2001, two people from Ankara declared theirrefusal of military service. This was more than a simple conscientiousobjection: this was a 'total' refusal, rejecting all collaborationwiththe State and Army. One objector was a homosexual for the Kaos GL group.As the first openly gay objector, he denounced the State's and Army'srepression of homosexuals. On the same day, the Ankara anarchistsorganized an illegal demonstration against the Afghan war and in supportof the objectors. There were similar demonstrations and protests inmanycities and universities, principally against the war in Afghanistan.
On 1 December 2001, two anarchists were arrestedby the police ofUshak (in western Anatolia), after they had distributed 'illegal'leaflets at a trade union meeting. Later, another three were arrested,and all were charged with 'membership of an illegal organization' -inthis case, the Autonomous Anarchists of Ankara. In reality, they haddone no more than distributing leaflets. However, for this terroriststate, this is enough for them to be accused of seeking to 'destroyanddivide', even though there is not the slightest evidence of any violenceor terrorist activities among them. Their trial will take place attheIzmir High Court, and they will probably be sent to Nazilli prison.Atthe moment they are held in Ushak: unusually, they are kept in separatecells. They have been severely beaten and tortured by the Ushak police,and have been denied access to a lawyer. This is the first time thatanarchists have been judged to constitute an 'illegal organization'inTurkey, and the trial will reveal the state's attitudes to anarchistsand their organizations.
During the last months of 2000 and in 2001,prisoners fromrevolutionary left-wing groups began hunger strikes in protest against'Type F' prisons and against Turkish state terror. Some anarchistprisoners and groups supported the protest, while seeking to avoidbeingused by Marxist-Leninist groups. These hunger-strikers suffer oppressionby the prison authorities and the state, but also oppression fromMarxist-Leninist groups. Such groups can even carry out executions,ashappened three years ago in Bursa prison, when an anti-militarist andanti-authoritarian prisoner, Mehmet Cakar, was assassinated by a groupof which he had previously been a member: the TIKKO (the TurkishWorkers' and Peasants' Army of Liberation).
Some anarchist prisoners participated in asymbolic hunger strikewhich lasted for a few days. One of them, Dervish Orhan, went on hungerstrike for more than 150 days, with a few weeks break. He was notsupported by the organization of which he had been a member: the PKK(Workers' Party of Kurdistan). Anarchists across Turkey organized acampaign for his liberation. They raised money to pay for his transferfrom Mersin prison to Istanbul hospital. Finally, following some legalproceedings initiated by a new lawyer, he was released on 31 Octoberforsix months for medical reasons. A section of the Anarchist Black Crosshas been created in Ankara, under the name of the Anarchist BlackCrescent.
Kaos GL is the only libertarian group of gaysand lesbians inTurkey. It opened the first homosexual cultural centre in Ankara -theCaos Cultural Centre - in September 2000. The Kaos GL magazine ispublished every three months: a project to create a bi-monthly failed.Unwittingly, this group became more 'popular' among the general publicfollowing its participation in the First of May demonstration.
Women's groups were more active throughout2001, particularly inIstanbul and Izmir.
Anarcho-syndicalists and other unionized Turkishanarchists havenot been able to create an organization. This is, in part, due to theabsence of an anarcho-syndicalist tradition within Turkishtrade-unionism. Furthermore, Turkish law makes the creation of newtradeunions difficult. As a result, anarchists have usually chosen to workwithin newer unions, to affiliate as members, and even sometimes totakeofficial positions. While, at the moment, they are few in number, theyare growing day by day in some particular unions, such as the KASK(Public Service Workers' Union). Most are ex-Marxists.
The first number of Kara MecmuA appeared inFebruary 2001, and byJanuary 2002 five editions had been published. Kara MecmuA draws inwriters from almost all the previous anarchist reviews: Kara (Black-the first Turkish anarchist review, dating from 1984), Efendisiz,Amargi, Atesh Hirizi (the Fire Thief), Apolitika, Efendrsizler, etc.Each edition of Kara MecmuA presents a different theme to debate. Itispublished every two months, and is based in Istanbul. Kara MecmuA isdistributed across Turkey, and has a circulation of more than athousand. Kaos editions, run by the same team as Kara MecmuA, are theonly anarchist publishers in Turkey.
Many anarchist and anarcho-punk fanzines havebeen created. Ofthem, AN kara is the closest to a 'proper' magazine, both due to thenumber of people who contribute to it and because of its format. Itseditorial team includes many anarchists from Ankara, and theirpublications are distributed in many cities. There have been threeeditions since May 2001. Apart from AN kara, there are many otherfanzines: Oldsletter, KatrAn (fire), Veganarsi, Kontra Atak, TwilightZone, Ictepi (impulse), Afanzin, etc. This counter-cultural style hasinfluenced anarchist theory and practice in Turkey.
Lastly, Varlik, a well-run Turkish historicalreview, widelyrecognized in both cultural and literary circles, is open to thediffusion of anarchist ideas.
Translator's Note: This article was published by Tierre yLibertad in April 2002 [http://www.nodo50.org/tierraylibertad/]. Itstruck me as being extremely interesting, and so I have translated it. Ihave no direct knowledge of conditions or events in Turkey; I am unableto confirm any of the information contained; and I apologize in advancefor any inaccuracies.
This translation first appeared May 2002 on The Research on Anarchism List (RA-L), an international forum whichwas started on January 1, 1996, and is devoted to book reviews, researchand discussion of the theories, histories and cultures of worldanarchist movements and to other topics related to anarchism.
Our site: http://melior.univ-montp3.fr/ra_forum/
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