All fascist governments arrest and murder all those who stand for a human life, for justice, equality, independence, freedom, human rights, democracy and a socialist country and they develop systems of oppression and exploitation to hold on to power.
Our struggle for a democratic and socialist country is already going on for years, just as the policy of fascism which wants to keep this struggle down.
Thousands of us have been murdered. Hundreds of thousands were tortured and imprisoned…. The political program of the oligarchy has been continued from the days of the junta by the governments of the bourgeois parties until these days. This program is a program against the people and the revolutionaries who demand independence and socialism. The governments, who were unable to stop the struggle for liberation in the cities and in the mountains, began to attack our comrades in prison.
To save humanity and revolutionary dignity, we had to show that the resisting children of the peoples in Turkey can not be defeated, under no circumstances.
However, defending these values demands a huge price.
The people’s liberation struggle in the prisons demanded its price from us. We had to pay this price. This was necessary because of the bond with our people and it was necessary for our ideals.
Whatever the price would be, the tradition of resistance couldn’t be broken. On the contrary, this tradition had to be developed further, broadened and brought to the masses…
That’s the reason why we resisted… We took this resistance upon us as a honourable task…
To resist against all kinds of injustice, oppression, torture and inhumanity was a human task. It was legitimate rights, also in bourgeois law. That’s why we resisted…
That’s why the revolutionary prisoners resisted against the brutal oppression inside the prisons. They have given there martyrs, but they never surrendered. They wrote history, a history which the world had never seen before.
The history of the DHKP-C in the prisons is filled with resistance and uprisings. The prisoners from Devrimci Sol to the DHKP-C have shown that prisons are not a place where you just do your time. Instead, they are places were the revolutionary dignity was protected. This view was confirmed when the prisons were transformed into schools of the revolution in a struggle, full of sacrifices, form the perspective of the struggle on all fronts.
In 1984 all the prisoners in the prisons of Istanbul began a hunger strike till death against the oppression and the introduction of uniformed clothing. This Death Fast lasted for 75 days. In this resistance in defence of the political identity and dignity, which started on April 11, 1984, four prisoners fell. From Devrimci Sol Abdullah Meral fell on the 63. day, Haydar Basbag fell on day 66, and Hasan Telci on day 72. From the TIKB( Union of Revolutionary Communists of Turkey), Mehmet Fatih Oktulmus fell on day 66.
The Devrimci Sol prisoners weren’t allowed to see their families for three years because they refused to wear the prison uniforms. They were brought to their trials, dressed in their underwear. The resistance of the hungerstrike till death in was a powerful action with a strong effect which broke the silence outside of the prisons. The respect for those who fell in the hunger strike till death grew day by day in society. The demand to wear the prison uniforms was officially withdrawn in time, a victory for revolutionary will power.
On September 21, 1995, three DHKP-C prisoners were brutally murdered in Buca prison during a police attack against 60 DHKP-C prisoners. The prisoners were attacked by soldiers and policemen with gasbombs and iron bars and Turan Kilinc, Yusuf Bag and Ugur Sariaslan were beaten to death. Dozens of prisoners were wounded, most of them at their heads.
After the attack against Buca, the political prisoners in 22 prisons started a hungerstrike which lasted for 50 days. At the end of this resistance, the rights which had been taken away with force, were won back. The prosecutor, responsible for the massacre in Buca, was dismissed from his post.
On January, 4, 1996, the prisoners from the DHKP-C in Umraniye became the target of a new, even more brutal, attack by the police and the military. The Free prisoners were to be forced into submission or destroyed. In the attack against the erected barricades, the DHKP-C prisoners Riza Boybas, Abdulmecit Seckin and Orhan Ozen lost their lives. The severely wounded prisoner Gultekin Beyhan died on January 8. The massacre in Umraniye was answered with a counter action by the prisoners. Because of the developing sensibility among the public, the state was forced to a deal with the prisoners.
Mehmet Agar put a new kind of systematic oppression and torture on the agenda with the goal to re-open the isolation prison in Eskisehir. With his decree of May 6, attacks were initiated which were planned to even surpass the massacres in Buca and Umraniye.
After the May 6 Decree, Eskisehir was in function again and new isolation prisons were opened in Kirklareli, Kutahya, Sakarya, Kastamonu, Inebolu and Sinop. In the grave-like cells of Eskisehir, 7 DHKP-C prisoners were incarcerated. With this decree they intended to separate the prisoners from each other, from their lawyers and their families and they wanted to lead the crown witness arrangement to a success. The medical examination and treatment of the prisoners was consciously denied to provoke lasting health damages or even death for the prisoners. When the prisoners were brought to court or to hospital, or when they were taken from there, they were left to the arbitrary behaviour of the gendarmes and the police. They were beaten and abused.
Because of this oppression, more than 1.500 prisoners started a hunger strike for an indefinite period on May 20 after a decision by the Central Co-ordination, founded on May 14 by the DHKP-C and 8 other organisations. With this co-ordination, in which all forces in the prisons were united and in which we put a lot of energy to realise it, 69 days began. 69 days of which every moment constituted action, struggle and victory.
… And as a first event of the hunger strike, the revolutionary prisoners made a list of their demands on May 20: 1. The decree of May 6 had to be withdrawn, Eskisehir and the other isolation prisons had to be closed. 2. The coercion to confess and betrayal had to end. 3. The obstruction of medical treatment and legal defence of the prisoners had to be ended.
On July 3, 1996, on the 45. day, the hunger strike was transformed into a Death Fast with the slogan ‘Victory or Death’.
When the Free Prisoners begin a struggle which can cost their lives, they will not end this struggle before they have forced the enemy to his knees.
When minister of Justice Sevket Kazan was still claiming that ‘they will not die’ and ‘they eat from the canteens’, we gave our first prisoners.
On July 21, the 63. day of the Death Fast, Aygun Ugur fell, destroying the demagogic assertions of the enemy like a bomb shell.
On July 22, 1996, the 65. day of the Death Fast, Altan Berdan Kerimgiller falls.
On July 23, 1996, the 66. day of the Death Fast, Ilginc Ozkeskin falls.
And again the state acts as if they don’t care. We will not negotiate, they say.
July 24, the 67. day. Ali Ayata, Huseyin Demircioglu and Mujdat Yanat fell. Again the state repeats it can not make any concessions.
On July 26, 1996 the 68. of the our comrade Ayse Idil Erkmen falls. She carries the honour of being the first woman in the world to fall in a hungerstrike.
She is the first heroine of a struggle which enlarged the wave of the revolution and in which death is being defeated cell by cell.
She was a woman.
She was the first woman to show such a will power against the enemy.
Idil was no exception. Her development was marked by the tradition of the revolutionary women in history.
For centuries women have participated in revolutionary struggles. They were heroines. Women like Sabo, Sibel, Ayse Gulen and Idil enriched the heritage of Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, Marie Curie and Tanja Tamara Haydee.
The fact that a woman fought in the hunger strike till death and fell, is very important.
Ayce Idil has shown, once again, that the freedom of women, the defending of their identity, their liberation, is realised through socialism.
She was an artist.
She was a musician, a gifted actress and writer. But what does this say in itself? What does she say? What does she play? What does she write? Without answering these questions, these phrases mean nothing.
She was an artist of the struggle. She sang the songs of our people. The theme of her songs, her plays, her work, was the struggle.
She was a fighter of the Party-Front.
She internalised the culture of the Party-Front, she loved the people, cried and laughed with them. This culture wants the revolution. It fights for the freedom and for a better future, for the liberation of our mountains and cities. It means loving the comrades. It is the bond to the Party, the leadership. It is the hate and the anger which demands retribution against the exploiters, blood suckers, rapists, torturers and murderers.
Being like Idil means liberating oneself as a woman. Being like Idil means being a fighter of the Party-Front. Being like Idil means reaching the top of art.
Idil represents the honour of our women and girls in the schools, in the factories, in the fields, in the slum areas. She refused to walk behind a man, weak, without will, fragile. She walk next to men. She is a symbol of liberation, a symbol of self-determination, of self-confidence.
Idil represents the honour of our artists who write, sing, paint and play for the people. Without being like Idil, nobody could realise her last song, her last play.
She has, as a woman, as an artist, as fighter of the Party-Front, given her life in the hunger strike till death for human dignity and liberation. Her body was her weapon against the humiliation of human dignity. She didn’t hesitate. Eleven months before her release she participated as one of the first in the hunger strike till death. She knew that the most beautiful work she could offer in this moment, was her self. As an intellectual, as an artists, out of a bond with the Party-Front and with a boundless love fore her people and her country, she has shown courage, determination and the bond with her conviction. With the values of humanity, honour, beauty, freedom and desire at her side she jumps into the unknown, together with 1.500 other revolutionaries. She knew thousands and millions of new Idil’s would be born. For that reason a clear smile was on her lips on the 68. day of the hunger strike till death, on July 26, 1996, when she took a last breath.
Once again, the state remained silent.
July 27, the 69. day of the resistance. Yemliha Kaya falls.
The state can no longer stand the pressure and negotiates. The state declares it will accept all the demands of the prisoners.
On the morning the agreement is signed, Hayati Can falls on the way to hospital.
This resistance has been the result of a convinced ideological struggle which expanded for years. The cry from the imperialists and the bourgeois, ‘Socialism is dead’ was countered by us with ‘Long live socialism’. Above our base sway the hammer and the sickle, the flag of socialism. We confess to be Marxists-Leninists. Against degeneration and decay, we insisted on justice, defended virtue, and we said loyalty, honour, country, attachment… Without those, one can not defend the proletariat, socialism. One can not be a communist. One can not bear the hope of the people.
When we look at this process in the prisons, we see a history developing from the hunger strike till death in , a history which contains dozens of resistance struggles, escape actions, the barricades of Buca and Umraniye. Although we are imprisoned, we haven’t separated for a moment from the struggle of our people, from our goal, the revolution. The dungeons were transformed into revolutionary schools. All the petite bourgeois, reformist theories, keeping within the framework of the system, and the status quo were levelled with the ground.
The Free Prisonership was defined with our martyrs.
That the revolutionaries enter death for their conviction, that they are willing to die without hesitation, that’s nothing new. Hundreds of our fighters yelled out their conviction with their last breath, they never surrendered when surrounded, they died in struggle and wrote their conviction on the walls, in blood.
Everybody knows revolutionaries do not wish death. But it is the most dreadful nightmare of the enemy when revolutionaries show the determination to die a hundred times, if necessary, for a just cause. It’s all about the liberation of our people.
Also those who look astonished at our hunger strike till death, together entering death for a humanly decent life for the people, sacrificing, understood these facts. Those who are not prepared to die in revolutionary struggle, do not want the liberation of the people, nor do they want the revolution, no matter what theory they proclaim. The political vanguard is a revolutionary vanguard. Being a vanguard means being responsible towards the people, means being an example.
It’s the revolutionary enthusiasm, the socialist conviction, the bond with the people and the party which makes the revolutionaries, who excite the world, so determined, which incites them to enter death with a smile.
The hunger strike till death of 1996 is the strength of the Turkish left, but foremost it is the strength of the Turkish revolutionaries. It became clear that the Turkish left is neither as weak, nor our revolution as underdeveloped, as has been claimed. In another form, in another field, the strength of Gazi and the strength of May 1, 1996, became apparent again. Everywhere we witness a development on the same line. On this line, the Turkish left will march on towards the revolution. Because of this, one has to know the characteristics, the decisive factors, very well, one has to define them very well. It is the line of the determined march towards death. It’s the line which proceeds from defence towards the attack against the oligarchy. This line forces the legitimacy of the revolutionary movement upon the bourgeois.
The hunger strike till death of 1996 did not appear out of nowhere. Behind it, there are years of preparation for this huge wave of resistance, years in which the organisatorical conditions were created, the fighters were prepared, in which this policy was developed. Behind us are struggles of resistance in the dungeons of the junta, behind us are hundreds and thousands of guerrilla’s. Behind us as the nineties in which the revolutionary movement shocked society and this country, in which the will of the enemy was crossed by escape actions from the dungeons, in which our own legitimacy was forced upon the enemy by the resistance during the sieges. Behind us are the years in which an attitude was developed which challenges the world, behind us are Gazi, May 1, 1996…. It’s not possible to understand and pass on this great resistance when it is separated from our history.
This time we were able to win the organisations of the TKP(ML), MLKP, TKP-ML, TKEP-Leninist, TDP, Direnis Hareketi, TIKB, Ekim and HKG for our line of resistance. Out of the 1.500 hunger strikers who started on May 20, 800 were from the DHKP-C. Out of the 268 prisoners who started the hunger strike till death on July 3, 128 were from the DHKP-C. 5 of the 12 martyrs in the hunger strike till death are martyrs of the DHKP-C. During the hunger strike till death we also gave another 12 martyrs outside the prisons.
In the hunger strike till death of 1996 a level of unity was reached between the left, as never occurred before. This unity inside the prisons became an example for the outside. The Turkish revolutionary movement, the Marxist-Leninists, enhanced the unity of the revolutionary left by their foresight and their efforts. They contributed in removing the obstacles which hindered this unity. The gathering of 10 organisations in the Central Co-ordination Committee of the prisoners progressed with the steps which started with DETUDAP and MayDay. The Gazi Uprising has shown that a commonly led struggle can not be defeated. Our perseverance, our sensibility and honesty have proven themselves in the efforts for this unity.
The organisation of the relatives from the DHKP-C prisoners plays an important part in the history of the struggle inside the prisons. They fight just as their children, under all circumstances. They were humiliated, beaten and tortured, despite their high age. But they never gave up. They fought for human dignity.
The opposition against fascism must be broadened further. Our families have propagated the assembly and the unity of all families of the prisoners. And on February 25, 1995, they founded the Platform for Solidarity with the Struggle of the Political Prisoners (DETUDAP), together with the relatives of political prisoners from other organisations. DETUDAP was the supporting force of the resistance outside of the prisons during the hunger strike till death.
The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party and Front will dutifully carry on the dignity of being the architect of the hunger strike till death. She will carry this task out of her historical development, containing hundreds of martyrs, the hunger strike till death of 1984, the tradition of resistance inside the prisons, the legitimacy of its struggle, the perspectives of power, the Free Prisoners, and the tradition of never to give up, but demanding surrender from the enemy instead.
Having such a history constitutes a enormous strength. Carrying this history with its heroic resistance to the top today, is a victory and a honour. But the revolution demands that we create even higher zeniths. The DHKP-C will meet this responsibility. That’s why we see the resistance not as ended, on the contrary, we see it as our task to carry on this resistance into all areas and to develop it further.
The biggest success of the hunger strike till death was the fact that, just after a few days, the mask was torn away from the face of the fascist Refayol-government. Otherwise this process would have taken months.
The resistance of the prisoners was not limited to the struggle of improving the prison conditions. It was rather a retribution against fascism and its government, the Refah party. With the success of this retribution, the hunger strike till death will enter history.
The form of action of the hunger strike till death followed a line without precedent form the 1980’s till today. With this line, death was challenged and defeated. This challenge is only possible with the conviction of the socialist revolution. The development of this tradition in Turkey demanded its price. The largest part of this price was paid by revolutionary movement, from Devrimci Sol to the DHKP-C.
In this history of the war between the oligarchy and the revolutionary movement, the phase from the beginning of the nineties is decisive. In this phase the struggle increased. That the struggle in Turkey progressed while socialism and struggles of national liberation in the whole world suffered setbacks, gave the Turkish revolutionary movement a special mission. In our country the oligarchy asks: ‘How is it that the revolutionary movement here is progressing, while the revolutionary movements everywhere in the world suffer setbacks?’ They appear astonished about the resistance during the sieges: ‘There are still people who keep up the flag’. When imperialism prepared to bring the whole world under its control, those who delivered open blows against imperialism came out of our country.
The hunger strike till death showed that revolutionary will power and courage can not be defeated, not by any power in the world. It has given courage and strength to the oppressed people of the world and at the same time it has been a call to all of them to rise up.
Outside of the prisons there were 12 martyrs in the resistance of the hunger strike till death.
The hunger strike till death was not an action which was only waged inside of the prisons. Outside of the prisons, the militias and the guerrilla of the DHKP-C fought in the front lines of the resistance.
The hunger strike till death from May 20 until July 27 has been a breathtaking resistance, a front war in- and outside of the prisons. During the resistance, on June 22, a party office of the Dogru Yol Partisi, the Just Path Party, was stormed in Istanbul. During a fight with the police after this punishment action, Adalet Yildirim was the first DHKP- C fighter to fall.
The hunger strike till death was supported by non-political prisoners as well. On July 2, five of the seven non-political prisoners who had accompanied the hunger strike for 41 days, were murdered in the prison of Usak. Mete Unsay, Muharrem Akbulur, Abdulgaffur Yavuz, Metin Sumbul and Kadir Subasi were murdered by a fascist gang, with the support of the contra-guerrilla. Mete Unsay, who fell in this support for the hunger strike till death, wrote in a letter to the hunger strikers till death: ‘We salute your dignified and unlimited hunger strike… Comrades, we love you, the honourable fighters of the DHKP-C and the struggle, very much.’
On July 15, the flag of the hunger strike till death was waving in the neighbourhood of Gultepe in Istanbul. 11 different state institutions were attacked by fighters of the DHKP-C at the same time, among those institutions was a police station. After the action, a group of the guerrilla was surrounded in a house by the police. ‘Revolutionaries die, but they never surrender’. With these words Gulizar Simsek, Hasan Huseyin Onar, Emine Tuncal and Ali Erturk fell, fighting.
The inhabitants of the house in which the DHKP-C fighters were murdered, were arrested and tortured. Hanim Gul, who got wounded, was brought into hospital after she had been interrogated. There she was murdered by the police.
Because she was a friend of the revolutionaries, and an enemy of fascism, she was thrown out of a window on the second floor of the hospital by the police.
On July 19, the voice of the prisoners rose behind a banner of the DHKP-C in the neighbourhood of Bagcilar in Istanbul. ‘We will break the hands which are held up against the prisoners’. The police purposely shot at the 17 year old Levent Dogan who was resisting behind the barricades in Bagcilar. Shortly before his death, Levent shouted: ‘Empty the dungeons, freedom for the prisoners’.
The Death Fast of 1996 has shown the people of the world how Turkish fascism looks like, and it showed them that the revolutionary will power can not be defeated. This experience caused a earthquake-like shock. This resistance developed a new kind of thinking, a new morale and a new man and it left behind traces which can not be wiped away, in the consciousness of the people. The death fast has written a new chapter in the history of the heroes of our people by jointly approaching death. With the participation of more than 300 hunger strikers till death, with their resistance without precedent, they delivered a severe blow against the ideology of the oligarchy, against pessimism, egoism and doubt.
They are the generation of those who rose up for their rights and their freedom, against oppression, those who never surrendered.
They are the generation of the children of Seyh Bedrettin, Pir Sultan, Seyit Rizas, Mahir, Deniz and Ibrahim.
They carry the heritage of those who gave their lives for their country and their peoples during the difficult circumstances of the military junta.
They stem from the tradition of Niazi, Sabo and Sinan, who said: ‘A revolutionary never surrenders’.
They walked in the footsteps of those who resisted in Buca and Umraniye.
Giving your own life is a heavy blow against those who want to intimidate the people by torture, imprisonment and murder, and who want to transform the country into a prison.
Giving your own life is an uprising against the fascist laws, against exploitation and oppression by the regime. It is a challenge against the attempts to destroy the revolutionary people’s struggle.
They are not nobodies. The 12 revolutionaries who fell, and the hundreds who showed their determination, are people with ideals, ideologies, parties and organisations. The revolutionary prisoners, fighting for freedom, a free and independent country, for the people’s democracy and socialism, died for the liberation of mankind. For themselves, they wanted nothing.
The Death Fast, from May 20 until July 27, 1996, has become a symbol of the honourable history of our revolution and a sign of our victory.