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(en) ANARCHISM IN TURKEY - 2004

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 10 Aug 2004 16:09:01 +0200 (CEST)


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From: Batur Ozdinc <batur_ozdinc-A-hotmail.com> ANARCHISM IN TURKEY - 2004
Eighteen years have passed over since the publication of the first Turkish
anarchist periodical "Kara" (Black) in 1986. In Turkey anarchist movement is
enjoying its "youth years" now, a bit confused up what to concentrate on and
how to organize better but day by day growing and becoming more effective.
Lately, before and during anti-NATO protests against NATO summit which was
held in Istanbul at the end of June, anarchists started mobilizing months
before and it was the most active movement we have involved till now.
GROUPS AND MOVEMENT IN GENERAL
Anarchists are relatively more organized in bigger cities like Istanbul,
Ankara and Izmir. On the other hand in cities like Izmit, Mersin, Malatya,
Bolu, Eskisehir, Antalya, Bursa, Denizli, Kayseri there are various
anarchist collectives, circles, groups or "friendship groups" of anarchists'
though not so active as the metropolitan areas. The movement had reached its
peak in anti-war demonstration of 1st of March 2003 in Ankara, which
simultaneously started a discussion on the matter of organizing. More than
400 anarchists were present in "Kara Blok" (Black Block) at this demo, a
great number for us! Participants included not only anarchists from Ankara,
also many from other cities.

Debates on organizing that were held in Ankara and Izmir as separate
meetings did not end up with any concrete decision but at least they helped
us to understand various tendencies. One group supported the idea of more
flexible network type of organization, the other federative type of
organizing. Though we could not reach a consensus some new projects emerged
later on.
In Istanbul, after the experience of "Kara Ev" (Black House) has ended, new
initiatives emerged. "Kara MecmuA" (Black Periodical) published only one new
issue since 2003 and the group seems to be less active. On the other hand
some anarchists started gathering with/around periodical projects: "Kara
Gazete" (Black Paper) staff has published ten issues of their
paper/wall-paper including news about and in interest of anarchist movement.
A group calling themselves "libertarian socialists" has appeared and
published their initial zine named "Liberter". "Otonom X" periodical/group
was also one of those that have appeared this year; this group also includes
anarchists from Izmir and Ankara supporting the idea of a federative type of
anarchist organization. On the other hand anarcho-primitivists started
publishing their own news-bulletin named "Uygarliga Karsi" (Against
Civilization) and organized few direct actions. Anti-militarists do also
carry on their own struggle; they have organized a different type of
activity named "Militourism Festival" this year. As the unique anarchist
publisher of Turkey, Istanbul-Kaos Publications is still active.

In Ankara there are two different anarchist organizations; Ankara Anarchy
Initiative which is synthesis type of anarchist circle/group carries on its
activities. Some people from this group has started a periodical project
titled "Inat" (Persistence) and published the first issue. The group
organizes weekly meetings and used to attend demonstrations in Ankara and
elsewhere (even a small group went to Thessaloniki last year). The other one
is Tacanka/KaraKizil group tending to be anarcho-communist/platformist. In
anti-NATO protests they were one of those walking under the black&red
cortege with anarcho-communists in Istanbul. Also, libertarian minded
gay-lesbian group/periodical KAOS GL is located in Ankara and they are
operating a culture center. Although there is not any anarcho-space in
Ankara right now (there were two anarcho-spaces in recent years but both
closed up), there is a café/bookstore kind of infoshop named Anarres which
is a nice place for anarchists to meet.

In Izmir there are few initiatives mainly dealing with publication stuff.
"A4 Asymmetry Publications" is a group of anarchists'
reproducing/photocopying leaflets on the theory and practice of anarchism.
Another collective is publishing and distributing an anarchist newsletter
named "Anarsizmir". There are some underground/anarcho-groups in Izmir
creating their own music and few even publish their own zines as well as
some other groups in other cities.

Bi-monthly anarchist art periodical "ImlAsIz" is published in Kayseri,
distributed country-wide and sold out in about 15 different cities. In
Malatya there is an anarchist collective named "ozgur KarArt" (free KarArt)
having a zine with the same name. Mersin anarchists deal with ecological
problems of their own territory nowadays. In recent years there were
anarchist activities in a number of cities; few direct actions in Izmit,
talks & film-exhibitions in Antalya, Bolu, Denizli, and in Usak where
anarchists faced state repression. A small group of libertarian communists
live in Eskisehir. In general anarchists attend to annual Maydays and
anti-war demos individually or in separate corteges.

Anarchist and libertarian ideas also give inspiration to a few leftist
groups; one of them, Istanbul-centered student organization "Otonom" group
declares itself as anti-capitalist and anti-statist but not clearly
anti-authoritarian; they are mostly affected by Negri's views.

ANTI-NATO MOBILIZATIONS

On June 28-29 of this year NATO summit was held in Istanbul. Anarchists and
antiauthoritarians started mobilizing months before the summit time. The
organization group named itself as "Libertarian Coordination Against NATO"
and a series of activities were held. The coordination released a
declaration and operated a web-site. The documents including the
declaration, calls and news of the coordination were translated into nearly
20 different languages. On 4th of April, marking the foundation day of NATO,
an anti-NATO picket was organized. Later, on mid of May "Militourism
Festival" provided a good chance for anti-militarist/anti-war and anti-NATO
propaganda. Lots of stickers, posters were pasted up, leaflets distributed;
a talk on "Capitalism, NATO and Counter Movement" was organized. The first
FNB (Food Not Bombs) action in the history of Turkey was held on 5th of
June, under the name of "Food Not Bombs/NATO" in front of Taksim-McDonalds.

Few weeks later another FNB activity was organized - this time in front of
Besiktas-McDonalds. One of the founders' of FNB, Keith McHenry was also
present in these activities and carried FNB banner within Black Block on
anti-NATO demos. "Libertarian Coordination" attended annual Mayday march in
Istanbul and worked in cooperation with other anarchist groups in Turkey.
The "activist guide" was prepared in Izmir by "A4 Asymmetry Publications"
and leaflets-stickers were printed in Ankara by "Ankara Anarchy Initiative".

The organization of the huge anti-NATO demo on 27th of June and following
two days was held with solidarity of anarchists' country-wide. Anarchists
walked within "Black Block" and "Black-Red Cortege" on June 27th and reached
a number of 300-400 people. Following days there were some clashes with cops
but none of the anarchists got arrested. It was the first time that
anarchists became a real "force" in the streets and even leftist
periodicals/papers mentioned about anarchists' participation in anti-NATO
protests.

ANTI-MILITARISM

Anarchist movement in Turkey is deeply affiliated with anti-militarist
movement. Turkish government did not accept the right of conscientious
objection yet and those rejecting compulsory military service are mostly
anarchists and anti-authoritarians. The number of total/conscientious
objectors passed over 30 at the moment and every year this number is
increasing. It should be stated that legally it is so hard to be an army
objector as it means to be "illegal" and living under the risk of arrest.

The state's (army) policy is in general towards not dealing with the
objectors so much - just not to increase the number of the objectors and to
cause it transform into an effective political movement - however objectors
are lack of many so-called "legal rights/freedoms".
Istanbul Anti-Militarist Initiative is the unique active anti-militarist
group nowadays and this year they have organized "Militourism Festival"
marking the day of 15th of May - International Day of Conscientious
Objectors. After "visiting" important military facilities and few companies
producing military stuff, as a convoy consisting of 3 buses full of
anarchists, antimilitarists, antiauthoritarians and reporters a demo was
held. Few years ago, there was an effective anti-militarist group in Izmir -
Izmir War Resisters Association (ISKD) - but it is no more active now.

ANTI-SEXISM

KAOS GL had appeared as a libertarian gay-lesbian periodical in September
1994 and since then the group became more and more active. In time they have
organized lots of activities (seminars and talks) and they were the first
gay-lesbian group that has marched on Mayday demo (in fact for a long time
they were the unique gay-lesbian political group). In the year 2000 they
have established their own culture center in Ankara. The group is
non-hierarchical and in an anti-capitalist manner and it includes some
anarchist/anti-authoritarian people. They have strong relations with
anarchists in Ankara and elsewhere.
In Turkey unfortunately there is no anarcha-feminist group or organization;
however there are few (women) anarchists that are individually active in
independent woman organizations/initiatives. Last year an anarcha-feminist
leaflet was distributed in an anti-war demo, no more activity reported since
then.

WORKERS' STRUGGLE

In the meaning of class struggle workers' movement, anarchists have lots to
do in Turkey. Yet there is neither an anarcho-syndicate nor an
anarcho-syndicalist initiative. But for the last few years libertarian
communist views started to become more popular. Groups like Liberter
(Istanbul) and Tacanka/KaraKizil (Ankara) emerged and started a discussion
on anarcho-communists' involvement to class movement. Unfortunately there is
no real organized participation to the workers' movement except ongoing
discussions. Another important thing to stress on is that there are also
individual anarchists who are active in their own trade-unions but they are
not organized nor coordinated in an anarchistic/libertarian manner.

Birlesik Isci Sendikasi (BIS) should also be mentioned here as the unique
independent self-organized revolutionary class-struggle type of trade-union
in Turkey. BIS succeeded in organizing a group of contracted PTT workers
last year who were working for a company that had a contract with PTT. The
salary they got was only 1/3 of an average PTT worker although they did the
same job. They started a strike which went on for few months until
trade-union (BIS) was closed down by the authorities but the struggle lasted
for a while.

PRISONS/PRISONERS

For now, none is reported to be in prison related with any
anarchist/anti-authoritarian activity. Although total/conscientious
objectors live under the risk of arrest, since the incident of Mehmet Bal in
2002 there was no "serious" arrest.

In prisons of Turkey there are thousands of leftist and Kurdish political
prisoners. Related with their organizations' authoritarian way of organizing
and struggling, some of these prisoners started to criticize their own
organizations and few of them are in favor of libertarian/anarchist ideas.

In fact it is quite hard and a big risk to stay "independent" from the
leftist & Kurdish organizations in jails. That's because, if you do so,
others will probably claim you cooperating with the state & authorities. We
do not know the exact number of libertarian/anarchist minded people in jails
at all. But they are in contact with anarchist & libertarian periodicals so
that there is a kind of information exchange. The unique ABC group which was
founded in Ankara during Usak anarchists' case seems silent for a while; on
the other hand a group of green-anarchists initiated "ELP-Turkey" project to
inform Turkish anarchist/libertarian circles about the anarchist prisoners
in other countries.

PERIODICALS/PUBLICATIONS/INTERNET

Turkey's unique anarchist publisher is Kaos Publications which is active
since 1994. Covering a wide range of anarchism they have published 22 books
in addition to 2 brochures. Last two books they have published were William
Morris' "News from Nowhere" and p.m.'s "bolo'bolo". In the near future they
are planning to publish Proudhon's "Philosophy of Poverty" and books of
Kropotkin and Stirner.

A number of anarchist periodicals are being published in Turkey. As it was
mentioned earlier Kara MecmuA, Kara Gazete, Liberter, Anarsizmir, Otonom X,
Inat, ImlasIz, Uygarliga Karsi are among those. Kara MecmuA issued its 10th
issue on January this year, so did Kara Gazete, Anarsizmir and Uygarliga
Karsi - till now each of them have published 10 issues. The rest except
ImlasIz could only publish their first issues. In addition to these there
are lots of zines, alternative/underground publications, and newsletters
such as Oldsletter (Ankara), Pasli Teneke (Izmir), ozgur KarArt (Malatya)
etc. Three years old underground "A4 Asymmetry Publications" has published a
series of leaflets - about 15 - not only that of Bakunin, Kropotkin and
Proudhon's classical writings also some contemporary brochures on anarchism.
Anarchist art zine ImlasIz deserves to be touched on. Being founded in 2003
in Kayseri, it is bi-monthly published and distributed country-wide. 8th
issue has recently been released. Most of the contributors are anarchist
minded artists, poets, intellectuals, writers or "ordinary" anarchists who
used to write for other art periodicals before.

Anarchist/libertarian views find place in various publications by articles
of different writers such as Sureyyya Evren, Rahmi Ogdul, Halil Turhanli.
Few leftist-independent publications - for e.g. a new daily paper Birgun -
also give opportunity for anarchist/antiauthoritarian propaganda.

There are lots of anarchist web-sites in Turkish language. Except groups' or
periodicals' own web-sites there are independent anarchist web-sites, too.
Turkish section of A-Infos is active for over 4 years (since summer 2000)
and serves as a good source of anarchist news both from abroad and
country-wide. "Anarsist Bakis" (Anarchist Look) web-site provides an
excellent source including hundreds of anarchist articles (mostly
translations). Istanbul Indymedia collective includes anarchists and
anti-authoritarians. In addition to web-sites there are various e-mail
lists; one of them "anarsistiletisim" (anarchist-communication) - which was
founded right after 2003 1st of March anti-war demo - includes more than 150
anarchists' e-mail addresses.

OZGUR HAYAT GROUP

There is another group which is mostly active in Istanbul publishing a
bi-weekly paper named "Ozgur Hayat" (Free Life) and working under an
association named SED (Social Ecological Transformation). Few years ago they
were isolated by other anarchist groups and individuals after their physical
attack to an anarchist comrade and ongoing threats to other anarchists.

Since then they act/struggle separately and in demonstrations you can see
them walking apart. They have worked under the name of "Anarsistanbul"
during anti-NATO protests and mobilized some hundreds of people. For now
they are focused on an ecological protest campaign for construction of dams
on Dersim (Tunceli) - Munzur River.


BATUR OZDINC
from Ankara Anarchy Initiative

[This article is written for the request of Russian 'Avtonom' magazine.
It is a continuation of preceding articles written in 2000 and 2001
on the same subject:
for 2000 - http://www.ainfos.ca/00/mar/ainfos00248.html
for 2001 - http://www.ainfos.ca/02/jan/ainfos00036.html
Feel free to translate and spread!]


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