On April 24th we commemorated the 50th anniversary of The Communist party of Turkey -(Marxist Leninist) or TKP(ML).With the tenacity of a boulder withstanding a thunderstorm it resisted the Turkish bourgeois-feudal fascist state, giving a striking blow to religious fundamentalism.. Even after receiving the most mortal blows, it resurrected itself like a phoenix from the Ashes to enable new roses to blossom. Marxism Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought shaped it’s path, enabling not to demarcate from revisionism and launch peoples War. One may debate whether mass line was correctly implemented in the peoples War but no revolutionary can deny its positive contribution towards emancipation… There was continuous ebb and flow of defeats and victories, setbacks, and advances, but with the Party legacy intact with its consistency of practice of armed struggle, resistance in the dungeons, the organisations within the working class, the peasant resistances it led, and many more. It must be emphasised that 40 years ago the TKP/ML did not suddenly appear as the vanguard of the class but emerged through extremely difficult and intense struggle that was given in heavy underground conditions, which were a consequence of the period’s international and national situation. The inherent economic crisis of the old world order channelizing rebellions all over the globe, paved the embryonic stage of resurrection of the Turkish Communist party.
History of TKP-ML
TKP-ML was founded by Ibrahim Kaypakkaya on 24 April 1972, is the political vanguard of the proletariat of Turkey of various nationalities which accepted Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as a guide.
TKP-ML is the continuation of Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) founded in September 1920 at the first congress in Baku with the participation of delegates from communist movements formed in Balkans, Istanbul and Anatolia as a result of arise of communist movements due to the development of working class in the Ottoman lands. There were also delegates from communist movements in Russia which was created by the imprisoned soldiers and asylum seekers following the October revolution of 1917.It has no connection with revisionist “Communist” Party of Turkey following the death of Mustafa Suphi.
One of the most fundamental factors in the formation of the TKP-ML was the working class mass movements in Turkey after the 1960s and its interaction with the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) in China and its shattering effects. After the assassination of Mustafa Suphi and his comrades in the black sea, the communist movement slumped into a revisionist silence for 50 years. GPCR has played a decisive influence in breaking the silence and resurrecting the communist movement in Turkey.
TKP-ML has established its own organizational independence in the fight against revisionist TIIKP during the military coup of March 12 and following martial law; has identified an ideological, political, organizational and military line on five basic documents and announced its establishment.
The party Congress reaffirmed that Turkey is a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society as Comrade Ibrahim Kayapakkaya defined. He provided the Leninist understanding of the nationality question and said that Kurd and Turkey are two different nationalities. He made clear that Kemalism is fascism. He is the leader who applied the path of Protracted Peopleʹs War to Turkey. He said Maoism is the higher stage of Marxism. He upheld the importance of party, army and rural areas.
TKP-ML had lost Central leadership and its first heavy loss following the killing of Ibrahim Kaypakkaya in Amed prison in May 1973, following the death of Meral Yakar, Ali Haydar Yildiz and Ahmet Muharrem Cicek in armed conflict with the state as well imprisonment of cadres and fighters.This was the first defeat of TKP-ML and the second defeat of the communist movement of Turkey.
Following this defeat, Party has entered the regional period which has ended with the 1st Conference organized in February 1978 under the leadership of the Organizing committee. TKP-ML has suffered its second heavy defeat during the attacks of 12 September fascist junta following the 2nd Conference held in January 1981.
The 3rd Party conference held in October 1987 intervened in this process. 4th Party conference was held in October 1991.
TKP-ML held its 5th Party Conference which is also called the Extraordinary Party Conference in May 1993. Following the developments within 6th Party Conference (also called 2nd Extraordinary Party Conference) was held in July 1995.
TKP-ML held its 7th Party Conference in Summer of 2002 and in January 2007 held its 8th PartyConference.
Path of Struggle
The revolutionary comrades set out with the motto “No matter how long the road is, the first step must be taken”. The party formation was rooted from the class struggle practice of these lands. The strikes of the working class in the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the struggles of the oppressed people and nations.played a determining factor n shaping its views. They were subsequently inspired by the October 17 Revolution. After rising up heroically to unite with the struggles of the working class, the oppressed people, the oppressed nations, and faiths, they were ruthlessly suppressed.
The rulers goal was to reduce the communist movement under the leadership of Mustafa Suphi into the Ashes..15 comrades were martyred at first.. Comrade Maria Suphi was held captive and was murdered after being subjected to all kinds of torture. The class and patriarchal hatred of enemies fully tested the comrades.
Blood and torture was the answer to the uprising of the party aiming to bury communist thought in the depths of the Black Sea. Although the struggle of the working class and the oppressed people continued during this time, these movements could not be led by the Party. Fascism unleashed itself on the working class with a chain of merciless massacres and torture .This darkness was extinguished half a century ago, on April 24, 1972, under the leadership of İbrahim Kaypakkaya to turn a sprk into a Prairie fire.
Quoting the party “The imperialist or capitalist system is virtually enslaving humanity and placing the very survival of the planet to edanger.. If the imperialist capitalist system is not eliminated, the world is in danger of extinction.Class struggle is in full swing in various forms and contents. The future is preparing new revolutions and popular uprisings, and those immortalized in this struggle deserve to be remembered with respect.”
Women and LGBTI+s are proud to fight in the ranks of this party. Because we know that we can achieve our liberation and freedom only through communism and that the power that will provide this is TKP-ML.”
The history of the party in prisons is one of history of resistance and escape. The first step in this history was comrade Ibrahim Kaypakkaya. He has laid the foundation of our approach while held in Amed prison not only with resistance he put forward, but also by sending verbal and written notes to his comrades saying, “Find others in prison and figure out a way to get in contact with me ”. He planned to escape as soon as he was captured. Since the beginning, this has been mainly the line of Party in prisons.
Turkey’s prisons are a reflection of fascist attacks on the people. It is known that cut the seeds of a growing mass movement to blossom the fascist state attacked the prisoners in order to prevent a possible opposition. When the matter is understood, the attack on the state and the resistance line of the r party in prisons is better understood. For example, during the fascist junta, thousands of people were put in prisons and revolutionary and communists were forced to submission. On the background of this fascist coup, there lies the policy of imperialism towards the submission and defeat of the struggle of the communist movement and suppress the people who would oppose the new economy policies put forward by imperialism.
The revolutionary prisoners displayed relentless in churning the prisons as the vanguard centres of Communist ideas and revolutionary emotion upholding the party name, path, war and militancy in the dungeons of the enemy. They stood as models for struggle nature undeterred to make any kind of sacrifice. All democrats must make sustained efforts for the release of the struggling comrades who are making efforts for Communist and class struggle in the utmost rigorous conditions The exploitive ruling classes will leave no stone unturned to trap the political prisoners especially the imperialist war atmosphere.
The party undertook resistance in various forms and contents in all areas against fascist attack on prisons during the fascist junta of 12th September 1980. From Istanbul Davutpasa to Metris, all prisons of Istanbul to Amed followed a line of resistance which sometimes increased and vice versa without a submission to the enemy.
For example, it participated in the “1982 Amed Death Fast”. Similarly, our Party participated in the “1996 Death Fast” resistance and 2000-2002 Death Fast which was from 10th December 2000 and 28th May 2002. On this great resistance our leading cadres Muharrem Horoz and Party member Nergiz Gulmez left us by writing a golden page to our history as honor monuments of our party and revolution. While martyrs fell as a noble example of resistance against the bourgeois-feudal fascist state and their forced sanctions under their siege, dozens of our comrades became veterans in this resistance.
TKP/ML has a revolutionary legacy with great sacrifices since the beginning. We must pay homage to homage to all the heroic fighters such as Comrades Ibrahim Kayapakkaya, Demirdag, Umitsan Kaglayas, Umit Denler, Dalek konak, Turan Nalkas, Ojgar K. Karrabul. Our party also conveys revolutionary greetings to the peopleʹs army Tikko, the youth organisation TMLGB, womenʹs organisation and civil rights organisations.
Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, founder and theoretician of our Party was killed on 18 May 1973 in a torture center in Amed. The principle that he put forward was “do not give any information to enemy” became a symbol for the revolutionary and communist movement of Turkey.
Comrade Suleyman Cihan was captured during the fascist junta of 12th Sept 1980 on 28th July 1981 and was killed under torture on 15th Sept 1981 in Istanbul. Another Party secretary, Kazim Celik was killed in an armed conflict with the Turkish armed forces on 20th May 1987 in Palu, Elazig. (Hidir Aykir, Cihan Tas, Muslum Emre and Ali Kayadogan was also killed in the same conflict)
Mehmet Demirdag, fourth secretary of our Party became martyr in an armed conflict on 24th Nov 1997 in Ese Plateau, Tokat alongside comrades Umit Dinler, Duran Salman, Dilek Konuk and Umit Caglayan San.
Shortly after the establishment of our Party, the first steps in the practical application of the People’s War, taking place in Dersim, just 2 days before it has received the first blow from the enemy with the operation on 24th January 1973, where Ali Haydar Yildiz was killed and Ibrahim Kaypakkaya injured and later captured after several days, Meral Yakar, first Martyr of our Party, was killed in Istanbul on 22nd January 1973.
Meral Yakar, alongside with Sultan Simian who shot her self during the Urfa resistance to avoid being captured alive by the Ottomans and Communist Party of Turkey cadre, Maria, who was raped and tortured before her massacre alongside her comrades on 28-29th January 1921, is one the leading women martyrs of revolutionary movement in Turkey. Therefore, Meral Yakar was not only crucial to the Party but also played an important mission in the revolutionary struggle and Women’s’ struggle.
Important Policies of the Party
Thr party held the first Conference in 1978.and in spite of serious problems identified and rectified the failure in developing leadership skill and non-confidence. The role of women in the movement is to be upheld. A dynamic path for struggle was launched with the oppressed gender in class and social struggle. There are many womenʹs movements that make such a struggle. In addition to the existing problems, the struggle shall develop and go forward. It decided that with the present understanding, there is a need to develop an alliance on the basis of united practice of the organisations and forces that make ʹcivil rightsʹ struggle on this problem.
It is commendable that the Congress placed the nationality liberation of Kurds as one of the important problems of Turkey revolution. A solution to the nationality problem in the era of imperialism is part of proletarian revolutions and the nationality question of Kurds shall obtain a correct solution guaranteeing autonomy and right to secession only as a part of New Democratic Revolution
Most consistently the party upheld the equality of religions in the society of various religions. It explained that the oppressed religions are historically being violated of fundamental freedom and democratic rights and that the religious systems related to the Sunni religious system are always facing severe oppression, massacres and aggressive policies. It is commendable that the Congress declared the utmost democratic attitude towards religions when it said that the question of religious freedom including the Sunni religious system shall be an aspect of democratic right in the struggle for New Democratic Revolution. ʹTikkoʹ is the name of the Peopleʹs Army that you formed as an army for the liberation of workers and peasants. War is for revolution.
At the time Kurd nationality movement and struggle are the fundamental and primary targets for fascism. Fascist forces are trying to forcibly surrender the Kurd guerrilla forces and the entire forces of nationality struggle in legal and democratic sphere and to distance them from the other social forces.
Shortcomings of Party
Since its foundation in April 1972, the TKP/ML could not avoid making a number of mistakes that cost the Party considerable strength and several temporary defeats. It has not yet met the hopes that the working class and its nearest allies have invested in its line.
Despite the fact that the TKP/ML possesses a full fledged theory, a solid MLM ideology that illuminates its path, a strategy for protracted warfare, and 40 years of experience in struggle, it has has so far fallen short of successfully integrating the Party’s fundamental principles with the conditions, experiences, and prevailing tasks of each new period since Kaypakkaya.
The Party was unable to attain the quality of a combatant party; to maintain a stable and continuous leadership; to come up with relevant tactical policies for each emerging situation; to correlate the internal liquidationism with the universal liquidationism and to put up a developed ideological struggle against them; and to actualize the motto that revolution is the product of masses.
These failures, on the other hand, were not solely due to the Party’s shortcomings. The military fascist coup of 12 September 1980, for example, brought about such catastrophic devastation that still has repercussions on the masses and on revolutionary organizations in Turkey.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance Journalist who has done extensive research on Revolutionary Maoist Movements worldwide.