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(en) Anarchism in Turkey-in 2000

From "Batur Özdinç" <batur_ozdinc@hotmail.com>
Date Mon, 13 Mar 2000 15:06:52 -0500


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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 authoritarian socialism to libertarian communist ideas. At the 
current time anarchists are increasing in number 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 also appear as groups and organizations in some larger 
cities of Turkey.

In Istanbul the most effective and massive group is “AGF” (Anarşist Gençlik 
Federasyonu-Anarchist Youth Federation). It was founded in April 1998; its 
basic principles were 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, and attended some other demonstrations with their own 
banners. Lastly appeared in anti-nuclear demos against the construction of 
Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. Being consistent with its name, it includes 
young(er) anarchist autonoms and individuals from Istanbul; it has some 
members 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 a culture-cooperative emerged after discussions that lasted for 
months beginning from the first days of the same year. The group defines 
itself as a “discussion platform of anarchists” and consists of not only 
young anarchists, students etc. but also workers, clerks, and unemployed 
people. It has 35-40 active members (40 % women) some of whom define 
themselves as anarcho-communist, anarcho-syndicalist, anarcha-feminist, 
pan-anarchist etc. They have worked on a project of self-production, for now 
discussing on being more effective in so-called “political” arena-especially 
aiming to study on anarcho-syndicalism.

“İSKD” (İzmir Savaş Karşıtları Derneği-Izmir War Resisters Association) is 
still actively working on anti-militarist and pacifist projects. The 
association includes anti-militarists most of whom declared their objection 
against doing military service. The group had organized an international 
campaign to support their member conscientious objector “Ossi” (Osman Murat 
Ülke) who was released in March 1999. In the following days the association 
will have much work to do with parallel to possible objection declarations 
and new initiatives on the anti-militarist ground.

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

ANTI-MILITARISM

In Turkey, it’s 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 disciplined armies. In recent years a few dozen of 
anarchists and anti-militarists had declared their conscientious 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 
released in March 1999.

For the current time, the war in Kurdistan seems to be ended and the 
military gave a chance to deserters to do their military service for 
short-term if they can afford to pay a big amount of money. Despite this 
unsuitable atmosphere for anti-militarist propaganda, an 
anarchist/anti-militarist will dare to declare his conscientious objection. 
For May, an anti-militarist festival is planned if a legal permission can be 
taken from the local authorities, but in any case there will be an objection 
declaration. “İAMİ” (İstanbul Anti-Militarist Inisiyatif-Istanbul 
Anti-Militarist Initiative), İSKD and some other anarchist/anti-militarist 
groups and individuals are studying on this project. After the declaration 
the objector may be arrested, so thinking such a possibility it may be 
inevitable to organize an anti-militarist campaign which will need 
international support of anarchists, anti-militarists and pacifists.

In addition to İSKD (from Izmir) and İAMİ (from Istanbul) anti-militarists 
from Ankara decided to organize under the name of “ASKD” (Ankara Savaş 
Karşıtları Derneği-Ankara War Resisters Association) as a new initiative.

ECOLOGISM

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

“Kara Toprak” (Black Land) project which aimed coordination among places 
like Akkuyu-Büyükeceli, Bergama, Çamlıhemşin-Fırtına Vadisi, and Çamköy 
facing ecological problems had failed but the activists are still working 
locally.

ANTI-SEXISM

The first homosexual/anti-heterosexist periodical in Turkey “Kaos GL” was 
initiated by anarchist gay and lesbians in September 1994 in Ankara and 
since then it was published monthly. In time, the group expanded, 
“popularized” but didn’t lose its libertarian character and it’s yet the 
“only” periodical of Turkish gay and lesbians. A few years ago lesbians 
formed their own group named “Sappho’nun Kızları” (Sappho’s Girls), but they 
continue to work together with gays for the periodical.

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

ANARCHIST PRISONERS

At the current time, there exists no "anarchist prisoner" in Turkish 
prisons-meaning none is in jail because of his/her anarchist actions or 
because of being a member of an anarchist organization. In Turkey there are 
more than ten thousand "political" prisoners; most from PKK (Partiya 
Karkaren Kurdistan-Kurdistan Labor Party), less than that from illegal-armed 
leftist groups and less from Islamists. But some prisoners who were arrested 
because of being members of either PKK or illegal leftist organizations by 
the time changed their ideological 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 TİKKO-an armed maoist group) was killed by TİKKO itself in 
Bursa prison with the claim of being in cooperation with the government 
forces, but the real reason was political/ideological disagreement. 
Anarchist prisoners can even be “punished” and beaten with nonsense claims 
like having long-hair or listening rock music etc. by leftists. The exact 
number of anarchists in jail is not known but there would be about 20; and 
yet there is no organization like ABC (Anarchist Black Cross) instead there 
are some smaller initiatives dealing with prisoners’ problems.

PERIODICALS-PRESS

The only active anarchist publishers in Turkey is “Kaos Yayınları” (Chaos 
Publishers). Until now, they’ve published books on various anarchist ideas 
and movements; books of and on Bakunin, Malatesta, Rocker, Tolstoy, Makhno 
(Makhnovist Movement), Durruti (Spanish Revolution), Bookchin, Woodcock, 
Unabomber etc. In recent years some leftist publishers began to publish 
anarchist books, too; “Ayrıntı Yayınları” (Ayrıntı Publishers) is a 
significant example-publishing books on anarchism, and libertarian ideas.

For now several number of anarchist periodicals are still active. First 
issue of anarchist newspaper “Efendisizler” (Masterless’) had been quite 
successful; more than 5,000 was sold out 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 ideas defended by 
AGF. “Ateş Hırsızı” (Fire Thief) is not so much active as it used to be 
before-it can be published only once a year. “Apolitika” which was one of 
the important Turkish anarchist theoretical periodicals seems to be 
vanished. “Nisyan” stuff had determined the “file subject” for the forth 
issue but it does not seem to be published in a short period of time. The 
group who published “Karaşın” are studying on a new periodical which will 
include articles about anarchist culture-it’s expected to be ready in a few 
months.

All of the periodicals mentioned above are located in Istanbul, there are 
also lots of anarchist and 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 Turkish periodicals 
like Varlık, Birikim etc. on politics, literature, art and philosophy.

* March 2000

_



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