Mahir Çayan – biography

Date of martyrdom: March 30, 1972

Place of martyrdom: Kızıldere village, Niksar district, Tokat province, northern Turkey

Date of birth: 1946

Place of birth: city of Samsun, northern Turkey

Location of the grave: Karşıyaka cemetery, Ankara

The leader of the revolution in Turkey. The commander in Kızıldere battle, the master who clarifyied the path of the revolution in Turkey… Mahir Cayan.

He martyred by writing the manifesto of the revolution in Turkey in Kızıldere, and lighting a torch that will never go out.

He was born in Samsun. His mother is from town of Çarşamba, Samsun province, and his father is from Gümüş District, Amasya province. Mahir Çayan is of Turkish nationality. Because of his family’s work, he spent his childhood in Ankara, Istanbul’s Üsküdar district, and for a while in town of Gümüş, Amasya province, together with his grandfather. When he reached school age, he returned to Istanbul’s Üsküdar district at the request of his family. In 1952-53 school year he continued to Üsküdar Paşakapısı Secondary School. He graduated from Istanbul Haydarpaşa High School. First he entered Istanbul University Faculty of Law and then Ankara University Faculty of Political Sciences.

Since 1965, he took part in the discussions within the TİP(Workers’ Party of Turkey) and immediately after it in the FKF(The Federation of Idea Clubs). In the same year, he was elected to the Presidency of the Idea Club in Ankara University Faculty of Political Sciences.

The theory and the struggle of a period are associated with his name. It is natural that this is so; because all the theoretical breakthroughs of this period and the armed liberation war of the people are present in every step taken by him.

He will study primary, middle and high school in Istanbul. His first action is in high school. He took part in an action to protest Hürriyet Newspaper when he was a student of Haydarpaşa High School in March 1963. He was taken into custody at Selimiye Police Station in Istanbul, on the grounds that he was the organizer and leader of the action. This is the first minor battle of a conflict and “leadership” that will last until Kızıldere.

He entered Ankara Faculty of Political Sciences in 1964. Nearly a year later, he was elected as Vice President of the Idea Club in Faculty of Political Sciences. After that, it is an extremely fast process. His organized life, which started in TİP, continued for a while in the Türk Solu magazine(Turkish Left, political and theoretical magazine issued in mid 1960s in Turkey;ed.nt.), where they defended the theory for a National Democratic Revolution(in Turkish Milli Demokratik Devrim teorisi). Then the Aydınlık group comes. He is member of the Editorial Board of the Aydınlık Sosyalist Dergi(The Socialist Clarity Magazine).

Parallel to clarifying the path of the revolution in Turkey, in his Open Letter to The Socialist Clarity Magazine, the steps of a new organization are started to be taken. It assumes the theoretical and practical leadership of the formation of Dev-Genç(The Federation of Revolutionary Youth) and subsequently the establishment of the People’s Liberation Party-Front of Turkey(THKP-C). He fulfills this mission until his last breath. “Leaders do not sit at the desk in the war of revolution, they fight at the forefront in this war …” He lived as he wrote and martyred.

Mahir Çayan also planned the first urban guerrilla actions and took part in these actions himself. After the Israeli Consul General in Istanbul, Efraim Elrom, was kidnapped and punished with dead, on June 1, 1971, he clashed and was wounded in the house where he was surrounded by the military and police forced, together with his comrade Hüseyin Cevahir in Istanbul’s Maltepe district.

Mahir escaped the Maltepe Military Prison in Istanbul, with an act of freedom on November 29, 1971 with four people including THKO(People’s Liberation Army of Turkey; an armed revolutionary organization created by Deniz Gezmiş and his comrades in late 1970) members. During this period, Münir Ramazan Aktolga and Yusuf Küpeli, who had the opportunity to have a significant part of Çayan and THKP(People’s Liberation Party of Turkey) cadres inside and tried to change the line of the organization, were expelled from THKP-C after Çayan’s appearance. After a while, to prevent execution of Deniz Gezmiş and his comrades, the British technicians at the NATO’s Radar base in Ünye, Ordu province, Northern Turkey were took a hostage and went to Kızıldere village. However, Çayan and his 9 comrades, who were ambushed at home as a result of a notice to the fascist state forces, were surrounded in Kızıldere. Mahir and his comrades martyred by writing a manifesto in Kızıldere.


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