MUSTAFA AKYOL > Turkish communism: Alive and killing

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When breaking news told about a suicide bomb attack against the U.S. Embassy in Ankara last Friday, many had the usual suspects in mind: al-Qaeda or similar militant Islamist groups. However, it soon turned out that the man who killed himself to kill other souls was not an Islamist at all. Rather, he was a member of the DHKP-C, or the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army-Front, one of Turkey’s infamous communist terror cells.

This fact was first revealed by the Turkish police, who identified the bomber, 39-year-old Ecevit Şanlı, from security cameras. The man had a history of violent communism: He was arrested in 1997 for another terrorist attack that he and his comrades launched against a military club in Istanbul. He was later released in 2001 due to an illness called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which was caused by the malnutrition he suffered during the hunger strikes that left-wing groups in Turkish prisons had initiated the year before.

Şanlı’s comrades at the DHKP-C claimed the attack the next day. In a message posted on the internet, they praised Şanlı as their “Sacrifice Warrior,” and explained that the attack was carried out to get revenge on “America, the murderer of the world’s peoples.” It was the usual “anti-imperialist” rhetoric of the Turkish left.

But one particular detail was new and interesting: a clearly pro-Baathist stance on Syria: “The Syrian people decide how Syria will be governed and by whom,” read the DHKP-C statement, apparently assuming that the Syrian people are represented by their mass-murderers (i.e. Bashar al-Assad and his fellow thugs). It also added: “Syrian collaborationist looters are trained and armed on our land and are sent back to massacre the Syrian people. The Syrian people are brothers of Turkish people. We don’t want our land to be used for the interests of imperialists.”

The “Syrian collaborationist looters” were none other than the Free Syrian Army (FSA). And the DHKP-C was apparently mad at the fact that the Turkish government was supporting it – an anger shared by most leftists in Turkey.

All this might have come as a surprise to Western readers, who might think that violent communism is long passé in the world. But in Turkey, Marxist-Leninism is still a powerful idea with dedicated followers, some of whom are violent. The DHKP-C is the most dangerous element in this strain, but it is not the only one. Any Turkey observer should keep that in mind.

It would also be helpful to note that the ongoing threat of communist terror in Turkey has something to do with one of the most controversial themes in current Turkish politics: Journalists in jail. I, too, am critical of this reality, and believe that there are many journalists who are in jail simply because of their ideas. But, as I have also noted before, the matter is not black-and-white, and some cases are understandable. Seven names among the “journalist in jail,” for example, write for small ideological outlets that proudly promote the DHKP-C ideology, and are being accused for being members of the organization.

At the end of the day, this tragic attack on the American Embassy (which, ironically, only killed a Turk and wounded another one), shows that terrorism really is not an imaginary threat in Turkey. It comes not only from Kurdish separatists or militant Islamists, but also those who still believe in that totalitarian madness called communism.


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Notice on comments

Blue Dotterel

2/7/2013 9:12:33 PM

A bit of commie scaremongering, I see. The DHKP-C are hardly a major threat. Their facts about Turkey's involvement in Syria may be correct, but their means of presenting them is a little extreme. Indeed, so much has been made of this incident, given the far greater violence being committed in neighboring countries, that one begins to think that maybe the DHKP-C are working to promote the AKP for the next municipal elections. Couldn't have handed them better propaganda.

american american

2/7/2013 4:55:42 PM

i can think of another ideology that is 'alive and killing'; however, it may insult some to name it...

american american

2/6/2013 7:42:50 PM

it is funny how akyol justifies fazil say's tweet prosecution, yet he feels free to insult via the same media.

Sue Coon

2/6/2013 3:44:42 PM

Turkey is not the only country that has undesirable groups, my own country (America) has it's share. I too have concerns about the Trukish justice system with regard to journalist, but I continue to hope that we all move toward something better.

Hasan Kutlay

2/6/2013 2:52:39 PM

Asli Guven, i didn't know MA had insulted Bulent Ecevit's family, i looked up after u mentioned here. I must say: immature, hateful and excessive 'beneath the belt' remark of MA. It's the same as saying that the French muslimterrorist Mohammed Merat has pursued the family tradition of the prophet Mohammed.

frank reynolds

2/6/2013 10:33:02 AM

The arrest of journalists in Turkey is part of Erdogan's campaign to crush domestic opposition in the country. The country that would like to boast of itself as a model for 'Muslim Democracy' - whatever that means - now sits proudly above countries like Iran, China, and Burma as the large incarcerators of journalists. Akyol will always battle between his Islamic beliefs and his liberal inclinations and he will embarrass himself again and again trying to harmonize them. They are irreconcilable

Asli Guven

2/6/2013 10:12:51 AM

Will you apologize to Bulent Ecevit's family for your outrageous claim on Twitter that this bombing had something to do with him?

Engin Atik

2/6/2013 6:45:58 AM

Are you saying "if these journalists weren't in jail they would be communist suicide bombers?" Apparently as proof you mention seven of them write for a paper that promote DHKP-C that claimed responsibility for the American Embassy bombing. Would you think that there are some journalists out there who support FSA that supports Al-Qaida that killed three thousand Americans in New York City? If there are such journalists should they also be in jail just in case?

mara mcglothin

2/6/2013 2:22:34 AM

We all have our nutjobs, but this is the first time I remember some communist blowing themselves up in a terror attack on purpose. Hmmmm?
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