May-June Rebellions in Turkey – II
Alewis, the youth and women
If we are to generally classify without losing sight of the diversity of the whole, the majority of the crowds in the street almost everywhere consists of young people between 16-25 years of age and women.
From another point of view, alewis from all ages, and middle class youth from metropolitan cities, especially from Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir weigh significantly.
The stirring of the alewis, who have been restless and bearing a righteous revulsion against the hostile and sectist politics and attitude of the AKP Government that have gone beyond a sneaky exclusionism in the past few months, has not only accelerated the spread of the uprising to other cities and settlements but is also the main factor which provided it with a stubborn persistence.
As for the urban petit bourgeois and middle class youth, who have had a significant part in the masses pouring into central squares in especially metropolitan cities, they have been fighting with an awe -and wonder- inspiring militancy for days. They are not associated with any political engagement or organisation. And again, probably, many of them are participating in a political demonstration -and one with such militant resistance- for the first time in their lives. Despite this, they not only fight well, but also contribute with their creativity and ability of organisation, supplying the protests with a different soul and richness.
The leading factor pushing them into the streets, is the reaction they feel against the traditional authoritarian policies, institutional relations and impositions continually trying to mold them into fixed models. It would be extremely erroneous to think that the scope of this reaction is limited to Tayyip Erdoğan and AKP. This anger is directed against all institutions of the regime, including CHP as the example of a fragmented, sluggish “opposing party”. Whilst representing a very different level in terms of quality, objectives and intentions; revolutionary structures are not too far out from this reaction, which insists on interacting with them with “traditional” styles and methods.
Undoubtedly, their presence and weight in the movement also bring some weaknesses and stains to the resistance along with their positive contributions. Being susceptible to Kemalist, nationalist chauvenistic or liberal influences which might not stem directly from them, but which some portions of them are readily affected by, is the most important of these weaknesses. However, these young people -or similar adults- cannot and should not be viewed solely through these negative aspects. This would mean a pursuit for a completely “sterile mass”; and such a pursuit in a public uprising in which people of all groups are taking action -the very fact which gives this uprising its power- is possible only through being distant and alienated from large mass protests.
Two major weaknesses
The two major negative points in the developmental course of the May-June Uprising up until today are, (1) the working class has not pulled its weight by using its power originating from production and (2) the Kurdish national movement has mainly stayed distant. And these are two major points which may play a determinative part in the further development of the uprising and the results it may achieve.
The fact that “the class has not pulled its weight” does not mean workers have not participated in the protests. What we mean by this, is the delay, or, in fact, the absence of the working class in making its mark on the developing wave of uprising through its union and political organisations by using its power originating from production. Conversely, many young workers not only participate in, but also play a driving part in the protests and clashes taking place today both in big cities and in the country. And these are not limited to class-conscious worker leaders.
On the other hand, as the protests quickly became a general public uprising, despite the slogan and demand of “general strike, general uprising” was expressed increasingly more commonly and more strongly, the administrations of worker and labor organisations, who have a considerable position and legitimacy in the realities of today’s Turkey to move a considerable portion of the class, have literally stood and watched the movement in horrifying carelessness and conservatism. In a situation where hours may be determinative, the DİSK administration, which has a special position and force with its history and tradition among them, has finally gathered after a week has passed since the start of the protests and from this gathering, a threat to “put life on pause” has emerged, based on “if”s and hidden behind intra-union bureaucratic procedures.
KESK, with an appropriate reflex, has moved its previous decision for a strike on the 5th of June one day before and DİSK, KESK, TMMOB and TTB have finally decided on a strike on the 5th of June. (Now, it is seen that these organisations are now preparing for an accusatory polemic to put the blame on each other, instead of an honest and sincere self-criticism of this unforgivable display of timidity and delay.
The Kurdish movement has missed a historic opportunity
The Kurdish movement -especially some of its represantatives and spokespeople-, by displaying an incomprehensible national narrow mindedness, was not able to the see democratic content of the resistance starting from Gezi Park or that it comprised a historic opportunity spontaneously delivered to their doorstep by downgrading chauvenism and socialising the “peace process” by this content. Not only did they remain distant to the movement, but have also taken downright defamatory approaches via some spokespeople.
The chauvenistic enemies of Kurds, such as the İP mob and CHP-supporting nationalists later joined the movement with an opportunistic reflex. The Kurdish movement presented the presence of these groups and the slogans they tried to chant as a justification, or, in fact, an excuse in a public uprising where hundreds of thousands are afoot. However, in addition to the fact that the influence of these coup-promoters is limited, by the organised participation of Kurds, their complete neutralisation and exclusion would be as easy as pie.
The opportunity of brotherhood delivered to the doorstep has not completely been missed yet. However, despite some partial steps and attempts to “fix”, it will not easy or possible to appease the the millions of people who have opened the “second front” in the streets for days from the disappointment and heartbreak they have felt towards the attitude of the organised Kurdish movement if revengeful comparisons such as “where were you when we have been fighting, suffering and terrorized, gassed and beaten for years” or “AKP-lover”-appearing pseudo- political analyses such as “why would the Kurds want the AKP Government to collapse” persist.
How should it resolve?
The public resistance lasting for days by scaling itself up has so far suffered three deaths and thousands of wounded, including loss of organs, such as eyes. Hence, as everybody agrees, this resistance has not been a resistance limited to Gezi Park. Therefore, the resolution of the resistance cannot be restricted towards alterations made in the project for Gezi Park.
Resistance fronts should not be abandoned before these minimum demands are met:
1- It must be declared that all projects contrived for Taksim Gezi Park, such as Topçu Barracks are definitely aborted.
2- In the process of undertaking projects causing environmental buchering, such as hydroelectric powerplants, nuclear powerplants, bridges or airports; a process involving not only the Environmental Effect Evaluation Report, but also the opinions and suggestions of the local public for sure must be implemented.
3- The no-demonstration bans on squares such as Istanbul Taksim, Ankara Kizilay and Izmir Konak, which have been closed to workers, laborers and oppositional protests for years must be lifted.
4- All bans against freedoms of gathering, demonstrations, marches, organisations, protest and thought must be lifted.
5- Use of tear gas by the police in demonstrations must be banned.
6- The minister of internal affairs and all governors and chiefs of police responsible for the police atrocity, especially in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antakya and Eskisehir -must be removed from duty.
7- Those causing deaths and injuries must be identified and hold accountable.
8- The Third Bridge must be cancelled.
9- Those taken into custody in this process must be released and it must be reassured that no charges will be pressed.
A premature ending to this public resistance, in which severe prices have been paid, without the realisation of these demands will bring forth even more severe prices. But the realisation of these demands will open up a transition to a whole new level of leaping of social awareness. Therefore, persistance for these demands is crucial.
5 June 2013