Anarchismus in Anatolien (Türkei) 2000

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A short report on Anarchism in Turkey in 2000


A SHORT REPORT ON 'ANARCHISM IN TURKEY in 2000' *

Roots of Turkish anarchism depends on both punk-rock culture which is somehow 'imported'from the West and ideological transformation of former Marxists from authoritariansocialism to libertarian communist ideas. At the current time anarchists are increasing innumber but yet they are not so successful in catching a stable social ground to struggle.

GROUPS

In addition to lots of anarchist individuals spread out all around the country, anarchists alsoappear as groups and organizations in some larger cities of Turkey.

In Istanbul the most effective and massive group is 'AGF' (Anarsist Gençlik Federasyonu-Anarchist Youth Federation)(*). It was founded in April 1998; its basic principleswere declared as anti-capitalism, ecologism, anti-sexism,anti-hierarchism/anti-gerontocracism, and anarchism. AGF defends the idea of direct action;organized their own demos and protest actions in Istanbul and Ankara universities, andattended some other demonstrations with their own banners. Lastly appeared in anti-nucleardemos against the construction of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. Being consistent with itsname, it includes young(er) anarchist autonoms and individuals from Istanbul; it has somemembers in other cities like Izmir and Ankara but yet they are not so organized in elsewhere.

In August 1999 Ankara anarchists organized as a 'culture-cooperative'. The idea of aculture-cooperative emerged after discussions that lasted for months beginning from the firstdays of the same year. The group defines itself as a 'discussion platform of anarchists' andconsists of not only young anarchists, students etc. but also workers, clerks, and unemployedpeople. It has 35-40 active members (40 % women) some of whom define themselves asanarcho-communist, anarcho-syndicalist, anarcha-feminist, pan-anarchist etc. They haveworked on a project of self-production, for now discussing on being more effective inso-called 'political' arena-especially aiming to study on anarcho-syndicalism.

'ISKD' (Izmir Savas Karsitlari Dernei-Izmir War Resisters Association) is still activelyworking on anti-militarist and pacifist projects. The association includes anti-militaristsmost of whom declared their objection against doing military service. The group hadorganized an international campaign to support their member conscientious objector 'Ossi'(Osman Murat Ülke) who was released in March 1999. In the following days the associationwill have much work to do with parallel to possible objection declarations and newinitiatives on the anti-militarist ground.

In Istanbul there are relatively smaller anarchist and libertarian groups some of which arepublishing their own periodicals, and also lots of groups are located in Izmir, Ankara,Antalya, Iskenderun, Adana, Mersin, Çanakkale, Konya and Diyarbakir (mostly inuniversities and among younger people). A group of anarchists living in the Mediterraneanregion recently have a project to work in coordination on eco-anarchist ground.

ANTI-MILITARISM

In Turkey, itís obligatory to do military service for men older than 20. Turkish army is'historically' proud of itself as being one of the most authoritarian and most disciplinedarmies. In recent years a few dozen of anarchists and anti-militarists had declared theirconscientious objection against doing military service. In October 1996 one of them-Ossi(Osman Murat Ülke) had been arrested and after an international campaign he was releasedin March 1999.

For the current time, the war in Kurdistan seems to be ended and the military gave a chanceto deserters to do their military service for short-term if they can afford to pay a big amountof money. Despite this unsuitable atmosphere for anti-militarist propaganda, ananarchist/anti-militarist will dare to declare his conscientious objection. For May, ananti-militarist festival is planned if a legal permission can be taken from the localauthorities, but in any case there will be an objection declaration. 'ğAMğ' (ğstanbulAnti-Militarist Inisiyatif-Istanbul Anti-Militarist Initiative), ğSKD and some otheranarchist/anti-militarist groups and individuals are studying on this project. After thedeclaration the objector may be arrested, so thinking such a possibility it may be inevitableto organize an anti-militarist campaign which will need international support of anarchists,anti-militarists and pacifists.

In addition to ISKD (from Izmir) and IAMI (from Istanbul) anti-militarists from Ankaradecided to organize under the name of 'ASKD' (Ankara Savas Karsitlari Dernei-AnkaraWar Resisters Association) as a new initiative.

ECOLOGISM

Turkeyís first nuclear power plant is planned to be constructed in Akkuyu-near to theBüyükeceli village on the Mediterranean Coast. Anarchists are actively fighting against theconstruction of the plant; working in anti-nuclear platforms and local initiatives, attendingdemonstrations etc. Anarchists (AGF) were the largest group after KESK (the clerk-union) inthe demo which was organized in Mersin, they have also appeared in other demonstrations inIstanbul and elsewhere. Few anarchists prefer to work with Greenpeace which organizesnon-violence direct actions.

'Kara Toprak' (Black Land) project which aimed coordination among places likeAkkuyu-Büyükeceli, Bergama, Çamlıhemşin-Fırtına Vadisi, and Çamköy facing ecologicalproblems had failed but the activists are still working locally.

ANTI-SEXISM

The first homosexual/anti-heterosexist periodical in Turkey 'Kaos GL' was initiated byanarchist gay and lesbians in September 1994 in Ankara and since then it was publishedmonthly. In time, the group expanded, 'popularized' but didnít lose its libertarian characterand itís yet the 'only' periodical of Turkish gay and lesbians. A few years ago lesbiansformed their own group named 'Sapphoínun Kızları' (Sapphoís Girls), but they continue towork together with gays for the periodical.

Anarcha-feminists sometimes gather and organize their own meetings but usually fail toorganize as long-timed 'stable' groups. One of the first anarcha-feminist groups whichpublished 'Dokunduran Çüksüzler' zine in Ankara had disappeared a few years ago, but for atime some new initiatives emerged.

ANARCHIST PRISONERS

At the current time, there exists no "anarchist prisoner" in Turkish prisons-meaning none isin jail because of his/her anarchist actions or because of being a member of an anarchistorganization. In Turkey there are more than ten thousand "political" prisoners; most fromPKK (Partiya Karkaren Kurdistan-Kurdistan Labor Party), less than that from illegal-armedleftist groups and less from Islamists. But some prisoners who were arrested because ofbeing members of either PKK or illegal leftist organizations by the time changed theirideological views from socialism to anarchism and began to define themselves as"anarchists". They used to write letters to anarchist/libertarian periodicals-that's the way'free' anarchists could become aware of their "existence".

An "anarchist prisoner" has much more problems than a political or an ordinary prisoner.The pressure not only comes from the jail administration but also from his/her former group.In 1998 an anti-militarist/pacifist (a former member of TğKKO-an armed maoist group) waskilled by TğKKO itself in Bursa prison with the claim of being in cooperation with thegovernment forces, but the real reason was political/ideological disagreement. Anarchistprisoners can even be 'punished' and beaten with nonsense claims like having long-hair orlistening rock music etc. by leftists. The exact number of anarchists in jail is not known butthere would be about 20; and yet there is no organization like ABC (Anarchist Black Cross)instead there are some smaller initiatives dealing with prisonersí problems.

PERIODICALS-PRESS

The only active anarchist publishers in Turkey is 'Kaos Yayınları' (Chaos Publishers). Untilnow, theyíve published books on various anarchist ideas and movements; books of and onBakunin, Malatesta, Rocker, Tolstoy, Makhno (Makhnovist Movement), Durruti (SpanishRevolution), Bookchin, Woodcock, Unabomber etc. In recent years some leftist publishersbegan to publish anarchist books, too; 'Ayrıntı Yayınları' (Ayrıntı Publishers) is asignificant example-publishing books on anarchism, and libertarian ideas.

For now several number of anarchist periodicals are still active. First issue of anarchistnewspaper 'Efendisizler' (Masterlessí) had been quite successful; more than 5,000 was soldout and since the first issue 13 issues were published. Another periodical is 'Anarşi'(Anarchy) first issue of which was seen in November 1999-tends to be nearer with ideasdefended by AGF. 'Ateş Hırsızı' (Fire Thief) is not so much active as it used to be before-itcan be published only once a year. 'Apolitika' which was one of the important Turkishanarchist theoretical periodicals seems to be vanished. 'Nisyan' stuff had determined the 'filesubject' for the forth issue but it does not seem to be published in a short period of time. Thegroup who published 'Karaşın' are studying on a new periodical which will include articlesabout anarchist culture-itís expected to be ready in a few months.

All of the periodicals mentioned above are located in Istanbul, there are also lots of anarchistand anarcho-punk zines which are published irregularly in Istanbul and other places.Anarchists (or better to say anarchist 'intellectuals') do also write in well-known Turkishperiodicals like Varlık, Birikim etc. on politics, literature, art and philosophy.

* March 2000


About Anarchism in Turkey: Turkiye'de Anarsizm

Texts in Turkish: Turkce metinler

(*) later remark (not from the author): 2001 AGF attacked an anarchist, who criticized them before. They are now isolated from all the other groups in turkey.




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