Turkey after the failed coup: Defend democratic rights!
Joint Statement of Dördüncü Blok (Turkey) and the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT/DKUE), 16.7.2016 (21.30 Turkish Time), http://www.thecommunists.net/ and http://dorduncublok.blogspot.com
1. After the coup-attempt by part of the Turkish military was defeated in the streets of Istanbul, revolutionaries should remain alert. We should not allow this failed coup-attempt to be used by the reactionary Erdoğan government to further undermine democratic rights. However, this attempted coup was not some political theatre concocted by Erdoğan to justify his further undermining of democratic rights, but was rather a real attempt which was stopped with the blood of the masses.
2. It appears that nearly all the great powers were open to supporting a successful coup. They didn’t say anything negative about the coup until it was clear that it has been defeated in the streets. After the coup they had to speak out against it, because they still want to have influence over the Turkish government. The fact that the Syrian army loyal to Assad applauded the coup-attempt in Turkey demonstrates yet again the reactionary nature of the Assad regime.
3. We stress that our position in the statement we issued while the coup attempt was still going on is absolutely correct. During the night between from the 15th and 16th of July we stated: “In order to defeat the military coup we need mass actions of the workers and poor! (…) They station the soldier in our streets and neighborhoods, let’s show them that this was a big mistake!” (See RCIT and DB: Turkey: Defeat the Coup in the Streets! No Political Support for AKP/Erdogan! But the Main Enemy is the Army Command, backed by the Great Powers! http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/defeat-the-coup-in-turkey/) This is exactly what happened. The coup was defeated by the masses of the poor urban population in Istanbul and Ankara. While many of those who took to the streets are supporters of Erdoğan and many had religious motivation we need to say unequivocally: they were on the right side of the barricades and in their heroic opposition to the coup we were together with them.
4. The fact that the Turkish left played no role in this mass-struggle merely reflects its weakness and sectarianism. This could have been the perfect opportunity for the Turkish left to win the trust of a sector of the masses of Turkish religious workers who follow the AKP. We could have shown them that, although we have political differences, we also defend their rights and their lives against reactionary assaults. The events in Istanbul demonstrate the importance of building a genuine revolutionary party which is able to intervene in such struggles alongside politically backward workers, and show them in practice that they can trust us.
5. The Turkish left could have used this opportunity to take control of at least some districts in Istanbul and other parts of the country. They could have taken to the streets under the slogan “Down with the coup – but no political support for Erdoğan!” and would have had at least a limited influence in the mass uprising. They could have ensured that, in at least parts of the country, the result of the mass-uprising would have been self-determination for neighborhoods. This would have been an important signal to the masses of Turkey on how to proceed. But not surprisingly, the left’s sectarianism led them to declare that revolutionaries should stay at home while the masses fight in the streets. This is the way not to get your hands dirty, waiting for a “pure” revolutionary movement (which never comes) and stay isolated.
6. We call for peoples’ committees which should monitor the army and especially the officers who are not loyal to the will of the popular masses. All those who participated in the coup or have been involved in war-crimes in Kurdistan should be brought before popular-trials. The masses of the people have to purge the army of all those who are willing to raise weapons against them. We propose that all passages in the Turkish constitution and laws which allow the army to intervene against their own people be deleted; similarly the option to declare martial law should also be eliminated. However, we must also be unmistakably clear and tell the workers and oppressed that no piece of paper will protect them against the army and police, just their own strength, their organization and their will to fight.
7. At the same time, we oppose the effort of the Erdoğan government to strengthen the police at the expense of the army. Enacting this policy will by no means ensure that there will be no dictatorship in Turkey, but merely ensures that it will not be led by the army. Erdoğan’s strategy of strengthening the police is designed to ensure that he will be able to stay in power and build his dictatorial-presidential police state. The workers and the masses of the people should have no trust in the police who have been used to repress their demonstrations so often in the past, and who are ready to strike against them yet again if only called upon. Only workers’ and popular militias who are truly loyal to the masses of the people, who are elected in the workplaces and neighborhoods, will ensure that the armed forces will be opposed with force if they attempt to attack their own people. Such militias will ensure that the poor and our Kurdish brothers and sisters are protected.
8. Those parts of the army that declared war on the masses of the people were overrun in their tanks, and were surrounded and forced to capitulate. In the same way we need to fight the war which has been declared against the Kurdish people, with its occupation of their cities, the countless arrests and murders. We need to win support among the Turkish workers and poor to force the same army which attacked them to withdraw its forces from the Kurdish areas of Turkey and to end its military operations and murder against our Kurdish brothers and sisters. The events of this past day have shown that the Kurdish and Turkish masses share the same enemy: the undemocratic Turkish army! Now is the decisive time to break-away Turkish workers from the reactionary influence of the AKP. But this cannot simply be done by a sectarianist denouncing of the AKP, as it the Stalinists do, but by defending them against reactionary attacks and pedagogically explaining to them their real interests. At the same time, we have to fight against all reactionary measures of the Erdoğan-government and politically criticize bourgeois-Islamism.
9. One central slogan for revolutionaries in Turkey now is “For a Revolutionary Constitutional Assembly.” We will fight for a constitutional assembly that is based on committees elected in mass assemblies in the neighborhoods and workplaces. We need to fight against all reactionary attacks on democratic rights and strive for the formation of real power for the workers and poor!
10. The central task remains to build an authentically revolutionary party in Turkey. It is imperative that such a party be capable of politically influencing religious workers too, while giving no political support to Islamism. Such a party will defend the masses of the people, in particular the Kurds and all other national minorities, against every injustice, no matter whether it comes from the Kemalist generals, the Erdoğan-police state, or the multinational companies! For the formation of revolutionary parties in all countries, and for their strengthening in the coming struggles ahead! For a Revolutionary 5th International!