TURKEY: Government Sentences Revolutionary Book Publishers to Prison

Photo: A protester holds a picture of Ibrahim Kaypakkaya as Turkish police look on

By Felipe Vera

On December 26, the owner of Umut Publishing was sentenced to two years and one month in prison for publishing the collected writings of Communist revolutionary Ibrahim Kaypakkaya in 2018. An operator with Yön Printing was also sentenced to 10 months just for printing the book.

After the publication of Kaypakkaya’s writings in 2018, the Turkish state raided the office of Umut, seizing and confiscating copies of the book as well as issues of Partizan magazine. The only “evidence” of criminal activity was Kaypakkaya’s writings themselves, with the Turkish state citing his positions on the Kurdish nation’s right to self-determination and his identification of Kemalism (Turkish nationalism) as fascism.

Although there have been several hearings, the final decision took place on Thursday. The defendants were sentenced to ten months for publishing/printing Kaypakkaya’s writings and the owner of Umut was sentenced to one additional year and three months for “making propaganda for the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML).”

Having been forged in the class struggle in Turkey and following the developments of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, Kaypakkaya founded the TKP/ML on April 24, 1972. This was a milestone for the Turkish proletariat, a break from the previous 50 years of the Communist Party of Turkey’s (TKP) parliamentarism, reformism, and pacifism.

Kaypakkaya was able to apply Marxism to the concrete conditions of Turkey, recognizing its semi-feudal and semi-colonial nature, upholding the military strategy of Protracted People’s War, and forming the Liberation Army of Workers and Peasants in Turkey (TIKKO). Unlike some of his contemporaries who rendered Kemalism as progressive, Kaypakkaya was the first to expose its counterrevolutionary and fascist nature. On top of this, he upheld the right of the Kurdish nation to self-determination, identifying it as a nation oppressed by Turkey.

In early 1973, Kaypakkaya was captured by reactionary Turkish forces and tortured for months, but he never gave up information about his comrades to the state. On May 18, the Turkish state murdered him and mutilated his body as a way to send a message to other revolutionaries. To this day, the TKP/ML and its armed wing TIKKO continue to wage a People’s War for New Democracy. As a result, the Turkish state has designated the TKP/ML as a “terrorist” organization in order to justify and carry out violent repression against revolutionaries and democratic activists.

The fascist Turkish state is only capable of responding to the revolutionary movement with more repression, unable to kill Kaypakkaya’s ideas and the organization founded by him. Aside from producing martyrs, it has created many political prisoners, just as it has with Umut and Yön.

The Turkish state has become notorious for its F-Type prisons established in the 1990s, which it utilizes to annihilate and demoralize political prisoners accused of “terrorism.” Isolated from the rest of the prison population as well as visitors, confined to cells with only one hour designated for yard time (if prison authorities allow for it), and subject to torture, the F-type cell is only one of the reactionary measures taken to attack the People’s War and struggle for New Democracy.

Even 46 years after the martyrdom of Kaypakkaya, his ideas continue to be a threat to the Turkish state, which cowers in fear and desperately represses anyone who expresses support for his ideas.