The revolution is a system of values. These values are what it maintains in the face of the great strength of the counterrevolution and gradually it permeates the masses with them. Before the revolution and also after the revolution when the power is held by the people, these values play a decisive role. The counterrevolution therefore tries to attack the revolutionary movement with these values because it has not been able to destroy it with military and physical methods, and the counterrevolution also seeks to drive back the masses by saturating them in these values. There are many methods they use. The contra-guerrilla methods which take the form of “psychological warfare” range from overt propaganda to provocations. For them, the key factor is the need, by whatever means necessary, to sully the revolutionaries, their actions, aims and purposes and to seek to deprive them of respectability in the eyes of the people.
Especially since the Susurluk scandal erupted, the structure, organisation and relationships of the contra-guerrillas have come into the foreground. It is both correct and necessary to examine them with a view to revealing and unmasking the state itself. However, that is a secondary matter from our viewpoint, for what interests us is what the contra-guerrillas do, why they do it and what the consequences are for the revolutionaries and the masses. If this is not given a satisfactory answer, if the contra-guerrilla phenomenon is seen as a police matter rather than a political one, one will not be able to make sense of it. We all know what can happen as a result of such confusion – either the revolutionary actions, whose character is most clearly visible, will be slandered as “provocations”, or actions which in method and aim can only be those of contra-guerrillas are practiced in the name of revolution and patriotism.
It is clear that the contra-guerrillas are practicing the politics of provocation. They carry out actions that correspond to these politics. But to be able to distance oneself from them one must know which actions are those of contra-guerrillas,which actions aim at being provocations or are carried out as the result of provocations, one must be able to recognise well the actions of the contra-guerrillas and which actions serve them, and be able to correctly analyse them from the viewpoint of their forms and consequences.
In the history of the class struggle in our country, the actions of the contra-guerrillas play an important part. This is because at the time they happened, some of these actions had a particular significance from the point of view of the oligarchy’s politics. This list of actions ranges from the sinking of ships to the murder of Abdi Ipekci, as well as the murders of Aksoy, Ücok and Mumcu, who were known as “progressive Kemalists”, but who in reality were not outside the orbit of the regime, and extends as far as the massacres in Maras and Gazi. On the other hand there are also actions, which in regard to their forms and consequences were those of “contras”, but those who carried out the action belong to the “left”. The revolution in Turkey is damaged just as much by these actions, which “serve the contras”, as by the actions of the “contras” themselves. When one moves away from socialism, independence, revolutionary politics and closer to pragmatism, bourgeois politics and manoeuvres acceptable to the regime, action of the kind increased in number which left revolutionaries wondering: “Were these things carried out by that organisation or by the contra-guerrillas?”, and the more actions there are like that, the worse the damage. A clear sign of the scale of this damage is that the question: “Who actually did that?” is now asked about a lot of actions, and what is worse, in many cases this question cannot be answered. With the result that you learn that “an action” has happened, but it cannot be clearly said if revolutionaries or counterrevolutionaries did it, or you say, this action can only have been a counterrevolutionary one, but you then learn the responsibility for it was claimed by Kurdish nationalists. An “action” was carried out, and it was called a “contra action” in the press of the nationalists, but then you see who did it, and it is none other than those who said the action was a contra action.
Since the actions of “contras” und the actions “which serve the contras” appear similar in the way they are carried out, this similarity also extends to their the results they bring. And these results achieve a dimension which goes further than the practice of those who turned an incorrect line of action into a something permanent. Today they have reached this dimension. And this does great damage to ties with the people.
WHY DO CONTRA-GUERRILLAS CARRY OUT ACTIONS, AND HOW?
About the “doctrines and theory” of the CIA, which is the organisation of the contra-guerrillas on the world scale and which was responsible for creating this kind of organisation, much has been written by CIA specialists about how to organise them. We can nonetheless summarise certain points concerning how the contra-guerrilla organisation and politics are organised and implemented.
At the start of the 1950s in a report that was prepared by the spokesman of the American monopolies in the Rockefeller group, the following was said:
“To maintain the security of both our own state and also the other non-communist states of the world, we think it necessary to provide armed assistance to friendly governments und regimes which are threatened by local forces and currents. This necessary military intervention does not accord with classical military strategy, nor does it resemble traditional diplomatic intervention.
This military intervention has a form and character of its own.” (1)
The contra-guerrilla organisations are a result of the needs felt by the world monopolies. This military intervention, which “does not accord with classical-military strategies, nor with the rules of diplomacy”, was carried out through different organisations, like Gladio, special warfare units, death squads and civil fascist movements.
These were generally financed by the USA. The US Secretary of Defense McNamara had the following to say on this theme:
“… The basic aim which we followed in the aid we granted, is, to help in training the indigenous-military and semi-military forces which have the ability to create the required internal security in cooperation with the police and other security forces in the areas where it is needed.” (2)
Great, so what will these organisations do? To this question, whose answer we had a good idea about anyway, a CIA specialist, described as a “technician of secret warfare”, supplied the following answer:
“Every kind of sabotage, terror, organised gangs, the destruction of the targeted nations in various ways. These tactics can be changed according to need and circumstance and can be employed against the nations in the red bloc in the form of an attack, and in allied and neutral countries in a defensive manner. Although the “good” sides of many adventures we undertake can be made known to public opinion, the “dirty” sides can be either kept secret or in the cases where the “dirty acts” come to light, they can be denied in that non-American agents were used who were not trained under strict American discipline.” (3)
For example this was done with the OPERATIONS TO COMBAT UPRISINGS and Operational Order FM. 31/16, which was issued by the oligarchy in Turkey under the direction of the General Staff , and was concretised even further (this kind of ordinance was written by the CIA and translated and implemented in all neocolonies). The special warfare units implemented the matters, such as “Operations-Ambushes-Terror-Torture-Hostage-Taking-Demagogy”, which are prescribed in this ordinance.
The aim is clear, the national und revolutionary movements in the neocolonies must be kept down. That is the essence of things. Of course at this point the main thing is the detruction of the organisations conducting an armed struggle. All strategies of imperialism have been based upon the threat to themselves emanating from the armed struggle. “With regard to national liberation movements, the nationalists who have resorted to arms must be destroyed through guerrilla methods. They have sealed their own fate by resorting to arms, even if they were motivated by anti-communist ideas when they set out on this road.” (4)
For this reason the psychological war of the contra-guerrillas and provocations have chiefly been concentrated on the armed struggle. In the provocations which have especially targeted the people and the intellectuals, the general aim has really been to neutralise the armed struggle. The contra-guerrillas have also pursued tactical aims at certain times. They have pursued these aims in various ways, expressing them like this: “With these laws and constitution, the country cannot be governed”, “Calm is what we are seeking”, “The only issue is one of survival”, “To show that the rebels are enemies of the people”, “To prove that they are a threat to life and property.”.
What actions were provocations?
The purposes and methods of the CIA contra-guerrilla organisation make this clear enough. The provocations appear to be have no purpose in form, but the aim is to make it look that way. They appear to be aimed at intellectuals, but the real target is the people’s movement. Sometimes they are aimed directly against the people, the aim is the terrorising of the people. The provocations try to draw the people’s movement and the revolutionaries onto ground they are not prepared for or do not want. There are many examples of this in the practice of the contra-guerrillas of Turkey.
The first actions of the contra-guerrillas who had been brought into action for this purpose, took place at the start of the 1970s. That is the period when the armed struggle came on the agenda. The armed struggle was just starting. The contra-guerrillas quickly got into action, in order to blacken the name of the armed struggle which was at just starting.
Contra-guerrilla actions followed one after another. The Palace of Culture was set on fire. The ship called the Marmara was sunk at sea. Bombs were planted in the car ferry Eminönü, the freighter Kastamonu, and Sirkeci railway station, and sabotage was carried out. The chosen targets were ones used by the people or were targets which it was hard to understand why anyone would choose them. Who could possibly have anything against the Palace of Culture! Or public opinion could ask, “What could they possibly want with the ship?”. But when the revolutionaries were blamed for these actions, it also became clear why these targets were picked. Someone wanted to tell the people, “Yes, the anarchists do such things.”
Neither then or later were there investigations of these acts of sabotage. Contra-guerrillas tried to lay them at the door of the revolutionaries. The press took on this task; the sabotage was described with headlines like “The anarchists have sunk a ship” and so on.
The aim was to creat doubts among the masses about the revolutionary movement, which was gradually establishing a base among the masses, and about its armed actions, which it was reckoned would soon increase in scale. It was hoped to even spark reactions against it among the masses. The oligarchy prepared the ground for the demagogy of “anarchy and terror”, with these contra-actions of the 1970s.
1977-80 are the years in which contra actions took the form of massacres directed at the “masses”; almost all contra actions aimed at carrying out provocations and sullying the name of the revolutionaries, were carried out by the civil fascist movement. In this way the oligarchy, in an atmosphere of massive civil fascist terror, was able to some degree to project an image of “anarchy”, and “clashes between the left and the right”. From the viewpoint of the contra-guerrillas this was what was important. What was important was to blacken the aims of the revolutionary struggle. The oligarchy’s moves at this point were not only successful with the masses, but also with the petite bourgeoisie and certain revisionist, reformist political movements they were successful and effective.
In this period there were two main kinds of contra-action which arose: the first was the murders, which the oligarchy aimed at intellectuals who the public knew as “leftists” and “democrats”, like Abdi Ipekci, Vavit Orhan Tütengil and Ümit Yasar Doganay; the second kind were shootings when cafes, bus stops and people leaving schools and factories to mark a holiday would all be sprayed with bullets. For the contra-guerrillas and the oligarchy these actions served several purposes. They intimidated the people, they pushed back the revolutionaries, they strengthened demagogy about “anarchic terror” and laid the basis for a state of emergency, new repressive laws and a junta to be accepted among the people, to distance the masses from aims and the nature of the revolutionary struggle and the class struggle, to sully the reputation of the revolutionary struggle and so on.
At the time the press and the indictments of the courts in the state of emergency persisted intrying to lay the blame for actions like machine-gunning cafes at the door of the revolutionaries. Although all actions of this kind were carried out by fascists, this kind of tactic was favoured by the contra-guerrillas as a way of obscuring the aims and the forms of revolutionary actions. This is the method for bringing the people and the revolutionaries into conflict with one another. For the actions were directed against the people. The words in the indictment against Devrimci Sol are really expressive as to this aim:
“… Total unrest among the people, efforts to bring the country under the hegemony of another hostile country by creating an atmosphere in the country in which people could not live, this was the objective of this organisation.. (Hakliyiz Kazanacagiz 1, page 41)
But before this the contra tactic in the heat of this struggle sought to draw the revolutionaries into these forms of action.While trying to lay these actions at the door of the revolutionaries who did not carry them out and also did not agree with them, massive terror was employed to try and get the revolutionaries to employ the same methods. This tactic of the contras largely failed. Although on the left there were tendencies at the time which reacted to the pressure with “If they do it, so should we and we should also spray targets with gunfire” and which preferred easy methods of action, the principled practice of Devrimci Sol was the main obstacle, for it conducted the armed struggle against the fascist terror at the highest level. They could not associate revolutionaries with the murder of intellectuals nor with mass murders – on the contrary, in such cases and in such actions it was the fascists the public first thought about. But both the spread of violence among the left against one another as well as the failure of some groups to pay sufficient attention to the nature of their own actions, led to a situation that accusations against the left met with a degree of credibility at the time.
THE AIM IS PEOPLE’S JUSTICE
At the end of the 1980s the actual aims of the contra-guerrillas sought to obscure the nature of revolutionary violence and people’s justice; Because the armed struggle was nearly liquidated within about six months after the junta took power there were not many contra actions in this period. The ideological and demagogic propaganda activities und psychological warfare of the contra-guerrillas aimed at sullying the name of the revolutionaries was incresingly concentrated in the press and television, but this mainly took the form of a propaganda campaign. To force the revolutionaries in the prisons to surrender and to broadcast this to public opinion was the actual policy of the oligarchy and the area the contra-guerrillas concentrated on was the prisons. At the end of the 1980s the contra actions started up agains and then were carried out on a massive scale. The end of the 1980s were when the revolutionary struggle again picked up strength. It was a matter of the struggle which spread throughout the land, besides the guerilla war in Kurdistan.
The oligarchy launched armed attacks on demonstrators on May 1, 1989, in an effort to stop the struggle from developing. A flurry of shots were fired at Devrimci Sol Gücler (Revolutionary Left Forces) and Mehmet Akif Dalci was murdered. But now things were different. Those who for years had carried out every form of repression and thought they would be able to continue undisturbed, discovered that they were wrong.
A short time afterwards the murderer of Mehmet Akif Dalci, Kazim Cakmakci was punished by our organisation. This was the first punishment action carried out in a long time. It had a significant effect on various circles. The significance of this action was not that a murderer was punished, but that it was an expression of the revolutionary struggle, which was again on a path based on the armed struggle.
So the contra-guerrillas also began to resume their activities and shortly after the punishment action against the murderer-policeman, Prof. Muammer Aksoy was murdered. This contra action in many respects resembled the murders before the September 12 military coup of Bedri Karafalcioglu, Cavit Orhan Tütengil and Abdi Ipekci.
The contra-guerrillas target petit bourgeois intellectuals, so as to achieve their first overt successes in influencing that milieu. And just as before September 12, after the murder of Muammer Aksoy the reformist left and intellectuals all shouted, “provocation”, “terrorism”. But what they mean when they talk of provocations and terror is not the murder of Muammer Aksoy, but the development of the revolutionary struggle. With their action the contra-guerrillas told the pettit bourgeois circles and the part of the left that favoured the status quo that : if the revolutionary struggle and the people’s violence develops, such things will happen and you will also be disturbed by them” and called on them to oppose the revolutionary struggle. To oppose people’s violence by shouting about provocations means in reality to obey the calls of the contra-guerrillas . And what a pity that the intellectuals and pro-system left in our country have often fallen for this game.
That these circles “described revolutionary actions as “terrorism” was not new. After it began to use weapons in 1971 the revolutionary movement has often been in this position up to today. Since March 12, 1971, 1975-80 and September 12 the same thing was always said, and even the words were the same, words like ‘anarchy, terror’ ‘the junta will come’ and so on….”
But it was very clear: the oligarchy followed the tactic that wherever the revolutionary struggle developed, its organisations like death squads, special warfare units and civil fascist groups unleashed provocations, these should be blamed on the revolutionaries, chaos should be created with indiscriminate bombing and through murdering prominent people the tactic of encouraging “the psychology of being against violence” should be created. In a sense they wanted to create the thought that “So, if the revolutionaries use violence, the rightists and the state will do the same, chaos will result and the rights we possess will also be restricted”, and through this a mood hostile to the revolutionary movement should be created.
The oligarchy had some successes here. As indicated in the February 1990 issue of “Cözüm” (“Solution”): “Despite the fact that the reformist left and the intellectuals know the facts very well, they objectively supported the plans of fascism with inconsistent comments lacking in objectivity. As they became fearful and panicky because the oligarchy chose people like M. Aksoy as a target. They immediately began to ask questions like “Are we going back to the time before September 12?” and then began to anlyse the “preparations for a new Junta”.
The actions of the contra-guerrillas continued with further provocations like the murder of Cetin Emec (a well-known journalist from the daily “Hürriyet”), and a bomb attack on the grave of Sedat Simavi (the founder of “Hürriyet”.).
PRINCIPLED ACTIONS DESTROY THE PROVOCATIONS
The games of the contra-guerrilla were rendered futile; for they were confronted with a line of action, which made it a principle not to harm the people and rejected pragmatism and the line of taking the easy route in everything: The actions of the contra-guerillas at the time could not awaken the desired response among the masses, however much the left and the intellectuals yelled about “provocations”. For the hundreds of armed and unarmed actions of Devrimci Sol which came one after the other were clear and unambiguous.
It is a well-known truth: The rulers labour to make their own violence appear legitimate and condemn the violence of the oppressed.
Revolutionary actions on the other hand must bring about the opposite. The revolutionary actions must develop in such a way that the historic justice and legitimacy of violence by the oppressed is not obscured, but on the contrary is illuminated.
For the revolutionaries, action is a “means”. But those who abandon historic justice and und legitimacy and principles and lose the viewpoint of their class, will gradually come to carry out actions not as the continuation of politics by other means but as an end in themselves. The relationship between arms and politics will disappear. And then arms will start to govern the politics, instead of politics governing the use of arms. In the heads of the fighters and the cadres, actions will become an end in themselves. What results from that is that actions are understood as having to be carried out at whatever cost, whatever the behaviour of the enemy, to reply to him in the same form. From this point on all purpose has been lost. If the purpose of the revolutionary action is forgotten, to organise the masses and win them to the revolution, if the principles of the revolutionary actions, which are meant to secure these objectives, are pushed to one side, then it is no longer possible to achieve a revolutionary result but on the contrary, even what has already been achieved will be lost.
Since the practice of Devrimci Sol and the DHKP-C had developed from such a revolutionary viewpoint, the increase in contra actions which happened in parallel to the armed struggle of 1989-90 were not able to have an effect. On the contrary, the revolutionary line created trust among the people and even forced the enemy to confess to things which were the opposite of its intentions. For example with regard to a report in a newspaper, “The plans for natural gas are in the hands of Devrimci Sol”, which was supposed to make the people panic and strengthen the demagogy of anarchic terror, the MIT security service was compelled to declare that “Devrimci Sol does not carry out actions that harm the people.” In the face of the clarity and unambiguity about the way Devrimci Sol claims responsibility for all its actions, the actions of the contras were laid at their own door instead of Devrimci Sol being blamed for them.
LACK OF PRINCIPLE PREPARES THE GROUND FOR PROVOCATIONS
The policy of the contra-guerrillas aimed to push people to the right, encourage pragmatism and integrate the left into the regime and it achieved the result it sought: The failure of the provocations by the contra-guerrillas, especially some which were directed against our armed struggle, does not of course mean that they gave up contra actions. As long as contra attacks exert influence on the petit bourgeois circles, the opportunists who are for the status quo and the reformists, who are on the road towards a legal party and oppose the armed struggle, contra actions will be continued. But these actions could not achieve more than that. Until the “actions which serve the interests of the contras” visibly increased in number.
The arson attack against the Cetinkaya department store in Istanbul-Bakirköy and the death of 11 persons in the action was almost a turning point in this respect. While contra-guerillas used this opportunity to concentrate their contra actions, the Kurdish nationalist movement, instead of rendering an account for this action and practising self-criticism, continued the same line of action in different forms and theorised it, which led in the end to a situation in which the actions of the contra-guerrillas and the actions which merely were of service to them were hard to distinguish from each other.
The Cetinkaya action was one which crudely violated the principles of revolutionary action. And therefore they did not achieve a revolutionary result, on the contrary they triggered off a hostile reaction among the people. And in the end a situation arose, especially in the big cities like Istanbul, where the Kurds could not express their identity openly.
This line, in the first days when its negative consequences were immediately and clearly visible, was criticised by us right at the beginning and we warned the Kurdish nationalist movement: In the face of the “dirty war” of the enemy, a war which knows no rules and uses every kind of method, revolutionary actions cannot be emotional, reactive and motivated by nothing but revenge, since the logic of that is to seek revenge at all costs, no matter what. In such situations violence loses its property of being a means and becomes an end in itself… If the revolutionary line and counterrevolutionary provocations are not separated by a Chinese Wall, the revolutionary begins to lose ist clarity. Violence which does not achieve its aim ends up striking at itself. A revolutionary attitude must make this its guiding principle.” (Mücadele, January 15, 1992, s. 36)
It was an action, which ended by killing 11 people und injuring many more, people who werenot particularly the target and were there by chance. The purpose of such an attack was perhaps something else but it clearly acquired a character that was obviously directed against the people. While the contra-guerrilla actions were being concentrated and were seeking to obscure the people’s consciousness, for the contras this action was a gift.The oligarchy concentrated all its institutions on this event. While the bourgeois press began to write headlines like “We want revenge”, the contra organisations sproutedlike mushrooms under names like “Hizbullah” or “the Kemalist Military-Police Organisation” und began to carry out new provocations.
The harm done could have been reduced to a minimum if a responsible accounting had been given. But things developed differently and the Kurdish national movement sought to give a theoretical justifiation for its action. So the democrats, revolutionaries, those who criticised the action were themselves reproached with “Where were you when the Kurdish villages were being burned,” in an effort to silence them. But loic is being turned on its head here.
The revolutionaries cannot fight with the methods of the counterrevolution.If they do, their different motivation will also be eliminated, it will not be clear who did what and why and what will be left will be chaos and anarchy. Which is exactly what the contras want.
The line which extended from Cetinkaya to Basbaglar; on July 2, 1993 a fascist-reactionary group under the protection of the oligarchy carried out a massacre in Sivas in which dozens of demokratic, progressive people were burned alive. A little after this massacre, there followed another massacre in Basbaglar, a village inhabited by Turks following the Sunni branch of Islam.
For the revolutionary, demokratic public there was no doubt that this massacre was done by contra-guerrillas.
At the time, we did not hesitate to write the following: This massacre was done by those who seek to stir up the peoples against each other and sharpen contradicitons between religions and nationalities.
While the oligarchy pursues the tactic of stirring the peoples up againast each other, this kind of massacre can only be the work of the oligarchy. The action in Basbaglar is undoubtedly a provocation… After this action the state spent days spreading propaganda in the media, in mosques, city neighbourhoods, and workplaces that Sunnis had been murdered by Alevis and revolutionaries and the areas inhabited by Sunnis had been attacked.
Even if it is not on the level of a massacre, the attacks against Sunni Turk villages in Erzincan and Dersim have been going on for a while… The people must be told that these are not the acts of revolutionaries and they can have no interest in them. Only the oligarchy can have an interest. Revolutionaries never do this kind of thing and do not agree with it.” (Mücadele, 4 September 1993)
But reality was different.
It later emerged that the PKK had done it.
At the time we wrote the following:
” The revolutionaries do not seek to broaden the counterrevolutionary front, but rather to reduce it. From the standpoint of classes they choose their tactics and aims for their actions carefully, to draw all classes and social layers, which have contradictions with imperialism and the oligarchy into the revolutionary front. By doing this, the founders of the future people’s power show the people the difference between fascist-bourgeois justice and revolutionary justice without any ambiguity being present. In this sense every action of the revolutionaries and their attitude must reflect the conception of those who promise the people revolutionary people’s power. Naturally anything that uses the same tactics as the oligarchy or which fails to draw a clear line between revolutionary justice and bourgeois justice, all behaviour and attitudes like that which are unclear are useful to the oligarchy and make revolutionary justice questionable.”
This happened. It does not matter whether they were following a direct order or not, the line that was followed and the narrow horizons of nationalism are the actual basis for such actions. If this basis is not dealt with, these actions will also continue. They have continued and are still going on.
At the point, on the line stretching from Cetinkaya to Basbaglar, all this was theorised, all this was extended and it went from threats such as, we will bomb Kapalicarci, all the way to actions such as bomb attacks on trains and railway stations.
The aims of the armed actions must be clear and nothing may obscure revolutionary justice
“Total” actions against teachers, or to go to a mine and kill the people there are actions that can appear at any moment as a result of choosing the politics of pragmatism, crude nationalism, always taking the easy road and abandoning revolutionary principles in actions, principles such as not harming the people, sending a clear message and being comprehensible. It may be that such “total” actions sometimes have “short-term results”, but these results will be counterproductive after a while. But these do not only have negative consequences for those who carry them out, but rather for all revolutionaries and all revolutionary actions.
The principles of revolutionary actions are clear. They must be just, they must strike at the enemy who deserves to be struck. That is the class basis of revolutionary action. The action not based on this is open to distortions, provocations and demagogy. The contra-guerrillas will also base their own tactics on these mistakes, on this basis they will find ways of influencing the broad masses.
Our actions must distinguish friend from enemy, they must make it clear to the masses, that it is Fascism itself which threatens the life and property of the people, the aims of the actions must be clear to the people. Of course these are the actually the ABC of revolutionary action and should be known to all. But the question is the politics which direct the actions. Just like reformism, which leads its supporters to become involved in actions that are acceptable for the regime, degenerated and disgraceful, crude nationalism and pragmatism give rise to such results. Apart from our criticism, warnings and suggestions, in relation to concepts which are far removed from a revolutionary line of action, we would like to add the following: the 28-year practice of the Party-Front in relation to actions is for all the left, with its rules, principles, form and content a real example of a purity very seldom to be found.
(1) quoted from Emin Deger, “CIA, the contra-guerrillas and Turkey, page 191
(2) same work, p. 200
(3) same work, p. 210
(4) same work, p. 192