From A World to Win News Service

London/Turkey: Stepping Forward to Fill the Shoes of the Fallen

Revolution #022, November 13, 2005, posted at

October 31, 2005. A World to Win News Service. There had been many large meetings of Turkish and Kurdish revolutionary immigrants in east London over the years, but October 15 was no ordinary occasion. It was a memorial for Maoist Communist Party of Turkey (MKP) Secretary-General Cafer Cangoz and 16 other party leaders and members murdered by the Turkish armed forces on their way to the 2nd Party Congress last June 16. [ Revolution coverage of this is available online at] Those attending this London commemoration were only too aware of the stakes posed by that massacre: the Turkish media had featured front-page stories proclaiming that the Turkish government had "destroyed the Maoists with a single blow."

The more than 500 people at the memorial had a message too, but a very different one: not only that revolution was alive in the hearts of millions of Turkey’s oppressed, but that they were going to transform their grief into new, greater determination in the battle against oppression.

Tears came to the eyes of many men and women as they listened to presentations of how ordinary people from every walk of life in the country had been transformed into fighters for the cause of the international working class and had devoted and ultimately sacrificed their lives on the battlefield for a new world. A 25-minute video documentary that showed the events following the massacre gripped the crowd. As footage of the mass reaction to their deaths in Turkey and in the Turkish and Kurdish immigrant communities in Europe unrolled on the screen, showing the crowds of thousands in Istanbul, Dersim and other cities that carried the coffins of their comrades, the hall rang with defiant chants.

A speech from the party declared that the enemy’s boasts in the aftermath of the assassination had died on their lips as the whole country witnessed thousands pouring onto the streets to mark their respect for the fallen comrades and the cause for which they gave their lives. But the speech also issued a pointed challenge to those who had come to this and other such meetings. It recalled that the party had faced grievous days like this before, not least of all when its founding chairman Ibrahim Kaypakayya was murdered within a year of the party’s creation in 1972. It also emphasized how he had raised the Maoist banner at a time when he had only a small handful of followers, yet this had been the crucial basis for great advances that followed.

There has been much wrangling among revolutionaries in Turkey about what led to the murder of these comrades. A veteran revolutionary spoke to set this discussion in its proper context. First, it is necessary to grasp firmly and deeply that "these were our Spartacuses," referring to the leader of the greatest of the slave rebellions against the Roman Empire who was eventually captured and killed by the Romans. When the enemy strikes down our leaders, the first question to be asked is not what they might or might not have done better, but were they right to rebel? Were they right to raise the red flag of revolution and fight heart and soul for another world? When the enemy inflicts a hard blow, it is only by rallying first to the vanguard and its core principles that the basis for future advances can be laid. As a statement in honour of these fallen comrades by the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement put it, "The enemy hoped to crush the MKP but the party, surrounded by the masses supporting it wholeheartedly, has begun the hard task of transforming grief and anger into scientific revolutionary plan."

The speeches also pointed out how the challenge facing people to come forward in this sense is not for some distant future, but for now. Great turmoil is already roiling the world and particularly the Middle East. Events in Turkey have greatly intensified their pace, and it is urgent for the party there to rally its ranks and make big advances. In this regard, the party speech pointed out that the many statements to the MKP from the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and its participating parties should be treated not just as expressions of internationalist solidarity, but also as initial summations of the invaluable experience acquired by the international communist movement, and that these should be studied for the precious lessons they contained.

Above all the speech emphasized the need to step forward at this crucial juncture. And it spoke plainly and powerfully to what this meant: to give your heart to the world’s oppressed, and to take up the science of revolution that enables you to fight for a world without oppressors and exploiters, a communist world.

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