The head of the Israeli consulate, Ephraim Elrom, was punished on May 22, 1971 by the THKP-C. This action was a severe blow struck against imperialism and Zionism. As a result, the oligarchy carried out many operations and arrested many people, holding them in investigative detention.
As a result of one of these operations, Mahir Çayan and Hüseyin Cevahir were encountered the police. Although they tried to stage a fighting withdrawal from the civil police, they could not escape encirclement. Mahir and Huseyin saw that they could not get out of the closing trap and fled into a house via the balcony. This house was the scene of their 51-hour-long resistance.
In the lower floor of the house lived women and children whom they allowed to leave the house. Through the window the fighters could see that the house was surrounded by a veritable army of soldiers. They saw that they could not protect themselves on the lower floor and they went upstairs. There they found Sibel Ercan, her mother and brother. The Erkans were already afraid because of the large number of soldiers outside and did not know what to do when Mahir and Huseyin, who were armed, came in.
Later, Sevim Erkan gave an account of what happened. “Again and again, I heard shots being fired. Then a window pane was shattered. I told my children that on no account could they go on to the balcony, otherwise they might be hit by a bullet. A short time later the doorbell rang, but we did not open it. From the window of the bedroom I shouted that we were afraid to open the door. But an army officer and a policeman said: ‘Don’t be afraid. Leave the flat.’ When we replied that we still could not go out and would prefer it if they came through the door, we received the same answer. Angrily I closed the window and took my children to the front part of the flat, and at that moment I saw two armed persons. I became very afraid: ‘My brother, everyone in the house will obey you, but don’t do anything to us. Please let us go,’ I begged them. One of them replied, ‘We won’t do anything to you.’
Mahir and Huseyin took Sibel as a hostage and took up position in the flat. The 14-year-old Sibel described the moment she was taken hostage: “When we were in the entrance to the room, Huseyin asked me to fetch them some water.. We wanted to leave the room, but Mahir Cayan closed the door and said we could not go.”
In the meantime all the houses in the area had been evacuated and the entire neighbourhood was blockaded. Mahir and Huseyin were surrounded by an overwhelming weight of sharpshooters and cannons.
At first the police were not sure who was in the building. The newspapers of May 31 were still writing that the people in the building were Cihan Alptekin and Nahit Tore. The police were to find out their true identities from replies by those under siege to demands for their surrender.
It is midday. The police and soldiers never stop calling out: “Surrender.” The replies by Mahir and Huseyin are brief but historically significant: “We will never surrender. We are only coming out as corpses. We won’t do anything to the child, only your bullets can kill her. We will never put down our guns. A man does not lay his weapon down. If you try to come in, we will turn our weapons on you.”
They preferred to die before they would surrender. This is where our tradition was sown. The seed found fertile soil…
At about 1300, Mahir and Huseyin said they were fighters of the THKP-C, gave their names and demanded passes as well as a vehicle to flee abroad. The officers in charge of the besieging forces said they would pass the demands on to their superiors. The major also promised, in response to a demand from the fighters, that there would be no assault on the house until a decision had been taken about their demands.
In a later statement, Mahir gave the reason for taking Sibel hostage: “There were two aims involved in taking Sibel hostage: First we hoped to be able to bluff our way out of the cordon surrounding us (but we did not think this was very likely); our main and real aim was to use our last breath to call out the name of the THKC throughout the whole world. Our aim was political propaganda.”
The siege continued. The cadres of the THKP-C spoke from time to time with the “hostage”. Later at the confrontation in the courtroom, Sibel Erkan in her statement spoke of “Brother Huseyin, Brother Mahir” and said the hostage-takers put her in a safe cormer of the apartment and treated her well.
Time carried on. On the first night Mahir and Huseyin suspected an attack on the house was imminent and fired off five shots as a reminder that they would not surrender. Then the shots were replaced by a long silence.
June 1 – daybreak. It slowly grew light. Mahir remembered: “On the last day I fell asleep at 11. I heard a shot. When I jumped up, I saw the anxious expression on Huseyin’s face. “Did you shoot?” I asked him. He replied, “No, they fired from outside.”
This shot was the beginning of the attack. It was 20 to 12. With the first shot the police got close to the steps and ran up them. Some of the police from a special team were wearing bullet-proof vests. Snipers were posted outside. One of them was Major Ahmet Cihangir. He was the one who fired the first shot and later shot Huseyin dead.
The police and soldiers tried to get into the house under cover from the snipers. Mahir and Huseyin fought against the police back to back while defending the entrance. One of the police in the background was wounded in the leg. Sibel remained in the guest room.
The enemy’s overwhelming strength was crushing. Under intense fire Mahir and Huseyin fought on. By now they were both wounded, but their fingers did not leave the triggers of their guns. They put their hostage in the kitchen to keep her out of the fighting. Then the police got into the flat and poured uninterrupted fire at both Mahir and Huseyin.
Finally, Huseyin fell dead and Mahir Cayan was wounded. Huseyin’s corpse bore 23 bullet wounds.
“I am burying Huseyin Cevahir in my heart and returning to my foul prison cell,” Mahir Cayan wrote some days later.
Ans soon the youth begin to sing a song for Huseyin.
“Here we are in Istanbul Maltepe
Cevahir was foully gunned down
Your action will stay in my memory
You will remain my comrade Cevahir…”