From Maltepe to Kizildere
From Ciftehavuzlar to Bagcilar
From Bagcilar to Kucukesat
From Dersim to Okmeydani…
Legend after legend…
An epic of revolutionary struggle (1)
It was a few people fighting against hundreds. Nevertheless they did not think of surrender. They went on towards certain death.
But the hope of the peoples for liberation was to grow, the belief in victory and trust in the revolutionaries was to strike deeper roots. It was certain that they would die, perhaps in the daylight, perhaps before the dawn of day. However, revolutionary willpower would win out. While the enemy wiped them out physically, the enemy had to contend with the heavy burden of defeat. The joy in living and upright bearing of the working people can continue onward. With their heads held high, together with their comrades, they showed their decisiveness and readiness to fight for a new world, independence and rule by the people. That is why they turned their last drops of blood into a weapon. For this reason they replied to bombs and bullets with slogans of struggle.
We must understand them. We must comprehend their attitude and their death and understand it… That is what is important here, not the execution without trial.
Yes, it was an execution without trial, but this is only one aspect of it… The readiness of the enemy to carry out massacres, the resistance by people who are under siege, the reasons for this resistance and its results – all these express a great deal.
We see the countless bases which were besieged, the resistance strongholds surrounded by the enemy and our hundreds of dead as creators of resistance. None of them are on their own, each of them forges a new link in the chain of our tradition. Every single act of resistance is a revolutionary step, the bricks and clay to build a new and free world for our peoples – every single action is a credit to the action.
The roots of this tradition lie in history, from Mahir and his friends to Bedreddin, to Sehit Riza and Kawa. Their origin lies even further back in time and in other regions of the world. The roots were strengthened in the voice of the Roman revolutionary Spartacus, who did not beg for mercy even as he was crucified, and thus continued his resistance. These roots were nourished further by the voices of the Communards, fighting behind the besieged barricades of Paris during the Commune of 1871. The struggle of the Red Army against the fascists, with the Communists in the vanguard of the fray, defending Stalingrad from street to street and from house to house, is just as much a source of inspiration for today’s resistance as the slogan “Patria o muerte” (freedom or death) in Latin America.
This tradition sprang up again in our land in the 1970s and in the arena of the class struggles of the 1980s it grew, from one bud to another. It went from Maltepe on June 1, 1971 to Arnavutkoy on February 17, and from Kizildere in March 1972 to the dungeons of the September 12, 1980 junta.
This tradition is unbroken. It is growing stronger. It is striking roots and new shoots are springing up.
On the eve of May Day 1988, Ozturk Acari and Salih Kul waved the “flag of those who do not surrender”. Then there was Faruk and Olcay, Perihan… The fortresses of resistance spring up everywhere. The struggle is strengthened, because hope is growing. As the oligarchy’s fear increased, July 12, 1991 came. Cadres of DEVRIMCI SOL were surrounded in Besiktas and Nisantasi, and not only were bombs and shots heard, but also the slogans the cadres shouted expressing their own refusal to surrender.
There is the resistance from street to street, from banner to banner on April 17, 1992… with Esma in Adana, with Vehbi in Ankara… in Bahcelievler, Avni, Recai and Ibrahim resisted with banners and shouted the slogan “DEVRIMCI SOL supporters never surrender.”… Their voices mixed with the resistance to the enemy’s encirclement in the countryside… Then Bagcilar… and Kayhan, Makbule, Erol, Seyfettin… and Tarik, Bahattin, Gulnaz, Osman took this tradition and carried it through the mountains. Hope grows and belief strengthens.
The fallen, the creators of resistance whom we do not mention here should not be considered to have been slighted. The names written on the walls of Adana and Ankara, or on the stones of Dersim, the flags waving in Ciftehavuzlar and Bagcilar stand for them all. All these actions were also carried out in their name.
We cannot recount in full all acts of resistance and heroic deeds here, but the stories we tell of people who did not let the banner fall right up to the point that they breathed their last serve to honour all those who fell for the THKP-C, DEVRIMCI SOL and the DHKP-C.
“WE ARE HERE IN ISTANBUL, MALTEPE”
The head of the Israeli consulate, Ephraim Elrom, was punished on May 22, 1971 by the THKP-C. This action was a severe blow struck against imperialism and Zionism. As a result, the oligarchy carried out many operations and arrested many people, holding them in investigative detention.
As a result of one of these operations, MAHIR CAYAN and HUSEYIN CEVAHIR encountered the police. Although they tried to stage a fighting withdrawal from the civil police, they could not escape encirclement. Mahir and Huseyin saw that they could not get out of the closing trap and fled into a house via the balcony. This house was the scene of their 51-hour-long resistance.
In the lower floor of the house lived women and children whom they allowed to leave the house. Through the window the fighters could see that the house was surrounded by a veritable army of soldiers. They saw that they could not protect themselves on the lower floor and they went upstairs. There they found Sibel Ercan, her mother and brother. The Erkans were already afraid because of the large number of soldiers outside and did not know what to do when Mahir and Huseyin, who were armed, came in.
Later, Sevim Erkan gave an account of what happened. “Again and again, I heard shots being fired. Then a window pane was shattered. I told my children that on no account could they go on to the balcony, otherwise they might be hit by a bullet. A short time later the doorbell rang, but we did not open it. From the window of the bedroom I shouted that we were afraid to open the door. But an army officer and a policeman said: ‘Don’t be afraid. Leave the flat.’ When we replied that we still could not go out and would prefer it if they came through the door, we received the same answer. Angrily I closed the window and took my children to the front part of the flat, and at that moment I saw two armed persons. I became very afraid: ‘My brother, everyone in the house will obey you, but don’t do anything to us. Please let us go,’ I begged them. One of them replied, ‘We won’t do anything to you.’
Mahir and Huseyin took Sibel as a hostage and took up position in the flat. The 14-year-old Sibel described the moment she was taken hostage: “When we were in the entrance to the room, Huseyin asked me to fetch them some water.. We wanted to leave the room, but Mahir Cayan closed the door and said we could not go.”
In the meantime all the houses in the area had been evacuated and the entire neighbourhood was blockaded. Mahir and Huseyin were surrounded by an overwhelming weight of sharpshooters and cannons.
At first the police were not sure who was in the building. The newspapers of May 31 were still writing that the people in the building were Cihan Alptekin and Nahit Tore. The police were to find out their true identities from replies by those under siege to demands for their surrender.
It is midday. The police and soldiers never stop calling out: “Surrender.” The replies by Mahir and Huseyin are brief but historically significant: “We will never surrender. We are only coming out as corpses. We won’t do anything to the child, only your bullets can kill her. We will never put down our guns. A man does not lay his weapon down. If you try to come in, we will turn our weapons on you.”
They preferred to die before they would surrender. This is where our tradition was sown. The seed found fertile soil…
At about 1300, Mahir and Huseyin said they were fighters of the THKP-C, gave their names and demanded passes as well as a vehicle to flee abroad. The officers in charge of the besieging forces said they would pass the demands on to their superiors. The major also promised, in response to a demand from the fighters, that there would be no assault on the house until a decision had been taken about their demands.
In a later statement, Mahir gave the reason for taking Sibel hostage: “There were two aims involved in taking Sibel hostage: First we hoped to be able to bluff our way out of the cordon surrounding us (but we did not think this was very likely); our main and real aim was to use our last breath to call out the name of the THKC throughout the whole world. Our aim was political propaganda.”
The siege continued. The cadres of the THKP-C spoke from time to time with the “hostage”. Later at the confrontation in the courtroom, Sibel Erkan in her statement spoke of “Brother Huseyin, Brother Mahir” and said the hostage-takers put her in a safe cormer of the apartment and treated her well.
Time carried on. On the first night Mahir and Huseyin suspected an attack on the house was imminent and fired off five shots as a reminder that they would not surrender. Then the shots were replaced by a long silence.
June 1 – daybreak. It slowly grew light. Mahir remembered: “On the last day I fell asleep at 11. I heard a shot. When I jumped up, I saw the anxious expression on Huseyin’s face. “Did you shoot?” I asked him. He replied, “No, they fired from outside.”
This shot was the beginning of the attack. It was 20 to 12. With the first shot the police got close to the steps and ran up them. Some of the police from a special team were wearing bullet-proof vests. Snipers were posted outside. One of them was Major Ahmet Cihangir. He was the one who fired the first shot and later shot Huseyin dead.
The police and soldiers tried to get into the house under cover from the snipers. Mahir and Huseyin fought against the police back to back while defending the entrance. One of the police in the background was wounded in the leg. Sibel remained in the guest room.
The enemy’s overwhelming strength was crushing. Under intense fire Mahir and Huseyin fought on. By now they were both wounded, but their fingers did not leave the triggers of their guns. They put their hostage in the kitchen to keep her out of the fighting. Then the police got into the flat and poured uninterrupted fire at both Mahir and Huseyin.
Finally, Huseyin fell dead and Mahir Cayan was wounded. Huseyin’s corpse bore 23 bullet wounds.
“I am burying Huseyin Cevahir in my heart and returning to my foul prison cell,” Mahir Cayan wrote some days later.
Ans soon the youth begin to sing a song for Huseyin.
“Here we are in Istanbul Maltepe
Cevahir was foully gunned down
Your action will stay in my memory
You will remain my comrade Cevahir…”
The Kizildere Manifesto
Early in the morning of March 30, 1972 large numbers of commando units, special units and police squads surrounded the town of Fatsa. They wanted to arrest the fighters of the THKP-C and THKO and free the British hostages they had seized.
It was at the time that DENIZ GEZMIS and his riends were to be executed. Mahir Cayan and his comrades, who had escaped from Maltepe prison, wanted to react to this at all costs.
The terror of the March 12 junta was still going on. After Mahir and his friends were jailed, there was a swing to the right in the THKP-C. But the struggle could not be stopped. It had to go on out of responsibility to the peoples of Turkey to light up the road to revolution and secure revolutionary friendship and soldarity.
On March 26, the THKP-C took as hostages three British technicians at the NATO base in Unye. In one of the buildings from which they seized the technicians, a written declaration was left behind with the demand that inside 48 hours the executions planned by the Turkish state should be cancelled. Otherwise the British agents would be punished.
In the technicians’ building, three of the people there were taken as hostages, and the rest were tied up. Then Mahir Cayan, Cihan Alptekin, Ertugrul Kurkcu, Hudai Arikan, Ertan Saruhan, Ahmet Atasoy and Nihat Yilmaz took the technicians’ vehicles and headed for Kizildere.
In cold and windy weather they reached the village in the evening. It was March 27, 1972. With the hostages, they went to the house of the mayor of Kizildere. The police had found out about the action on the morning of the 27th, when another British technician visited the house and found the ones who had been left behind tied up. All military units were mobilised. Planes and helicopters began to search the area.
On the road between Fatsa and Niksar there were operations and arrests. Since all clues pointed to the Kizildere area, gendarmes went to the mayor there on March 30 to obtain information. He gave them a written declaration which had been prepared and left behind by the people being sought.
The house was quickly surrounded. Soon the entire village was blockaded. In the house were the THKP-C members Mahir Cayan, Sinan Kazim Ozudogru, Hudai Arikan, Ertan Saruhan, Saffet Alp, Sabahatin Kurt, Nihat Yilmaz, Ahmet Atasoy and Ertugrul Kurkcu, and the THKO members Cihan Alptekin and Omer Ayna. After briefly evaluating the situation, they made short, clear and final decisions.
They will not surrender.
As was stated in an ultimatum, the hostages would be punished if their demands were not accepted and if they were fired on. They would fight to the end.
This was the decision, even if death resulted.
At the entrances and exits from the house they put up flour sacks and cupboards. They used holes in the roof to survey the surrounding area. The enemy called on them to surrender. Their reply remained the same.
Thousands of soldiers and police were surrounding the neighbourhood. At 1400 in the afternoon they demanded that the people under siege should show the British hostages through the roof holes, so a brief talk with them would be possible. Mahir and his comrades acceded to this.
Shortly after, Mahir Cayan, Cihan Alptekin, Ertugrul Kurkcu and Saffet Alp climbed on the roof to talk with the besiegers. The latter, however, fired on them with sub-machine-guns.
It is twilight. The enemy wants to annihilate the cadres they have surrounded and begins to bring the house under ceaseless fire. It is at this point that one of the heroes is hit in the head. It is Mahir Cayan.
He had played the main part in founding the THKP-C and carrying out its military actions and led us on the road to revolution. And he was the first to die at Kizildere.
Nonetheless, our comrades continued to resist. The leader is shot dead, but there is no thought of surrender. After Mahir’s death, the British hostages are punished as had been threatened earlier.
The enemy fires heavy guns at the house. Machine-gun bullets pierce the lime walls. Omer Ayna is hit in the eye. Cihan Alptekin is wounded in the abdomen. The enemy briefly ceases fire and makes another call on the fighters to surrender. The fighters with their dead and wounded are still struggling on and refuse to talk. They wait at the entrance to the house, grenades in hand, for the next enemy attack.
Bombs and rockets fired from a distance hit the entrance. More THKP-C and THKO fighters fall at this point. Since there are no more shots from the house, the enemy storms it and shoots dead Saffet Alp, who is lying on the ground wounded.
On this day, the sun in Kizildere goes down, shrouding the corpses of 10 revolutionaries. Except for Ertugrul Kurkcu, who has hidden in a stall, all have fallen. The blood of revolutionaries flows into the river at Kizildere, but it flows in the direction of revolution. It is a torrential river.
Those who hoped that the river could be stopped were taught different a few years later by the slogans of the young: “Forward on the road of the Kizildere Manifesto” and “Our road is the road of Mahir Cayan and his comrades.”
Kizildere was not the end…
The struggle goes on and will go on!
A rare video footage showing some moments of Maltepe resistance
A video footage showing Kizildere village after the massacre. A local man says: “I prefer my son died, instead of there young boys(meaning guerillas, not the 3 NATO agents, as the translators says.)”