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Kaypakkaya gave Marxism new shape in Turkey, delivered mortal blow to revisionism

By Harsh Thakor 

On 18th May, we commemorated the 50th martyrdom anniversary of Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, who sowed the seeds for the flame to ignite f the Turkish armed revolutionary struggle or revolutionary communism in Turkey. Even non Maoists or non Marxists, who comprise the revolutionary anti-imperialist camp, place him in great esteem.
Ibrahim Kaypakkaya died 50 years ago, annihilated by the armed forces of the Turkish reactionary state. Ibrahim Kaypakkaya was the founder of the TKP/ML (Communist Party of Turkey / Marxist-Leninist) and it’s armed wing TIKKO (Liberation Army of the Workers and Peasants of Turkey). In Turkey he waved the flag to shimmer the line the revolutionary line of the communist movement having broken with the revisionists, and initiated the Protracted People’s War in Turkey. Kaypakkaya gave Marxism-Leninism a new shape in Turkey, delivering a mortal blow to revisionism and religious fundamentalism.
The Turkish intelligence services themselves saw Kaypakkaya as the biggest revolutionary threat, so in an official report of the MIT (National Intelligence Organization) of 1973 it is noted:
“Within the communist movement in Turkey, Ibrahim Kaypakkaya’s ideas are the most dangerous. The views he presents in his writings and the methods of struggle he advocates are, as we can safely say, the application of revolutionary communism to Turkey. ”

Life Story

Ibrahim Kaypakkaya was born in 1949 in the village of Karakaya. He was the son of a peasant family. He imbibed progressive ideas while being a student in the 1960s. Being a very good student he successfully enrolled at the IUFM in Capa and the University of Physics in Istanbul in 1965, a year when the Turkish student resistance was on a wav
Rapidly after becoming a student, he joined the FKF (Federation of Clubs of Idea) founded in 1965. The FKF was a progressive anti-imperialist organization comprising several trends. He opened a section of the FKF in Capa with his comrades in 1967. At the heart of the FKF, he waged a battle against the revisionism of the leadership and opposed their reformism, supporting a line of national democratic revolution.
In 1969, he moved away from the university to integrate with the workers and peasants and to enable them to grasp Marxist-Leninist ideas. In 1970 Turkey experienced major worker’s struggles, the most important of which was on the 15th and 16th of June 1970 which was ruthlessly suppressed by tanks and cannons. This struggle was an important lesson about the objective conditions prevalent for the revolution in Turkey for Kaypakkaya, and he felt it was living proof that the objective conditions of the revolution had matured in Turkey.
In 1970, he became a member of the TIIKP (Workers’ Revolutionary Party and Peasant Party of Turkey), which was a party claiming to be Marxist-Leninist and a follower of Mao-Tse Tung Thought, but it had important right-wing deviations.
In March 1971 martial law was declared with the military takeover of the government. This martial law was the culmination of the development of people’s struggles in Turkey. It was in the mist of this scenario that Ibrahim Kaypakkaya asserted the need to start the Protracted People’s War in Turkey. On international level, this took place during the crystallisation of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, at the most intense pitch of the national liberation struggle in Vietnam and after the mass movements in the major imperialist countries in 1968 and 1969 (France, Germany, United States, Japan) were riding on a crest.
The TIIKP claimed to be following Marxism-Leninism and the contributions of Mao Zedong, but in practice they were veering towards pacifism. Kaypakkaya led the ideological struggle within the organization to its optimum degree before separating from this organization to found a Communist Party with a revolutionary orientation opposed to revisionism, reformism and chauvinism. That was the foundation of the TKP/ML (Communist Party of Turkey / Marxist-Leninist) on April 24, 1972 under the leadership of Ibrahim Kaypakkaya. It marked the break with the revisionists of the TIIKP and its bourgeois leadership .. It paved way to practice the main character of activity in the peasant regions in relation to their activities in the large cities, and assimilating the armed struggle and the illegal activities as principal in relation to the non-military and legal activities.
Ibrahim Kaypakkaya followed Mao’s theses on the three instruments of the revolution: the Party, as the general staff of the proletariat, the people’s army and the united front. So, a few months after the founding of the TKP/ML, the TIKKO (Turkish Workers ‘and Peasants’ Liberation Army) was founded to lead the Protracted People’s War in Turkey.
In 1973, when Ibrahim Kaypakkaya and his fellow activists were engaged in activities in the Dersim area, they were tracked down and forced to go into hiding. After their hideout was traced and attacked by gendarmes on 24 January 1973. Kaypakkaya was wounded but managed to escape. During that winter, severe weather conditions and snow forced him to resort to e shelter in a cave for five days. Thereafter, he left for a village where he asked for assistance from a local teacher. Initially, the man permittted Kaypakkaya to take shelter in a room but then locked the door and reported him to the military.
The Turkish Government ripped the flesh the leadership of the TKP/ML. Kaypakkaya, and several of his colleagues were arrested. Kaypakkaya was executed in prison in 1973. On 18 May 1973, he was brutally tortured to the jaws of death and then shot and killed by military officers at the age of twenty-four. His corpse was mutilated and cut up.

Ibrahim Kaypakkaya combating Revisionsim

Ibrahim Kaypakkaya and his constructive critique of the TIIKP (“The Roots and the Development of our Differences with the Revisionism of Safak: A General Criticism of the TIIKP”, June 1972) analysed Safak’s revisionist theses on the issue of armed struggle with systematic methodology. The theses of the revisionists of Safak at the time condemned the revolutionary movement as reformism and wait-and-see. It is for these very reasons that Kaypakkaya parted ways with the TIIKP to found a truly Marxist-Leninist Party, a Party that recognised Mao Zedong’s contributions to Marxism-Leninism, a Party capable of leading the revolution.
First, the Safak revisionists followed the organizational policy of organizing peasants and workers in study groups, who were gathering around the newspaper’s study sessions and increasingly detaching the masses from the issue of armed struggle. The revisionists had thus made a condition the for participation in the armed struggle to first of all study Marxism-Leninism in groups of study, thus preventing many peasants full of class hatred for the enemy to join the armed struggle..
In opposition to this erroneous line which claims to represent a “revolutionary mass work,” Kaypakkaya stressed on how to organize among peasants by establishing a party committee in each village. In each village, he prescribed organized armed contingents, namely the peasant militia, created from the ranks of the revolutionary poor peasants, be they connected or not to the party, who continue to engage in production. He advocated creating professional guerrilla units connected to the regional committee of the Party regardless of the village structure. The purpose of all this organizational work was to construct the Party and the armed people’s forces among the agricultural workers and poor revolution.
Secondly, the Safak revisionists prescribed a condition for the armed struggle on the condition that the Party must be developed on a national scale and capable of leading the masses. In their formulation the armed struggle can only be ignited over the whole territory starting from a peasant movement supported by the cities and that a red power can only crystallise if a peasant movement of national scale is first united behind a Party that is also developed throughout the country.
This conception of armed struggle is the manifestation of right-wing and revisionist theses that are incapable of understanding the dialectical development of the Party and the People’s War.
Kaypakkaya answers that it was imperative to create a protracted guerrilla activity developing from the small to the broad paving way to develop guerrilla units to regular army units; and to convert the guerrilla war into a war of movement. In fact, they do not even think about it.
He asserted that even if an organization of this kind came to embrace the whole country, it would not be able to lead the people’s struggle, or lead the armed struggle.
Thirdly, the revisionist’s asserted t that armed struggle cannot be launched without the entire masses being prepared for it. Incapable of understanding the unequal development of the revolution, the revisionists live in an illusion. Kaypakkaya sums up: that such an erroneous line stirs setback in mass work and concentrates only on the most remote sections of the peasants rather than direct the struggles of the most advanced peasants.
Fourthly, the revisionists artificially opposed political struggle and armed struggle. The revisionists of Safak accuse Kaypakkaya of having a purely military point of view because he places the guerrilla unit at the center of the political struggle. Incapable of understanding the armed form of political struggle and armed struggle as the main form of struggle, the revisionists in fact completely reject the very idea of armed struggle that they always sweep under the rug. Kaypakkaya refuted this by summing up how the guerrilla units that will form the embryo of the popular army will not merely wage war. but also engage in important tasks such as steering agitation and propaganda among the masses, organizing and arming them.

Refuting Kemalism

Ibrahim Kaypakkaya was the first to scientifically define the class character of Kemalist ideology correctly illustrating that Kemalism is an ideology of the comprador bourgeoisie and that if it opposes direct colonial rule, it also contributes to maintaining the semi-colonial and semi-feudal structure of the country. In this sense Ibrahim Kaypakkaya showed the absurdity of those who class Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), a Turkish Sun Yat-Sen, who in actual fact was similar to Chiang Kai-shek. He felt Kemalism was gross anti-communism. The Kemalists brutally drowned Mustafa Suphi [the first president of the Communist Party of Turkey] and 14 of his comrades and mercilessly crushed the Turkish Communist Party (TKP) after the death of Suphi, although the party did not deserve that name.
These were his views.
1. Kemalism is a chain attached to all forms of progressive and democratic ideas. Any publication activity that does not praise Kemalism is banned. In the future, the mere possibility that an article may emerge against the Kemalist government will be sufficient reason for any publication to be closed.
2. Kemalism means the violent and bloody repression of the class struggle of the working and peasant masses, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the surveillance of public servants. Kemalism means placing workers at mercy of bayonets and shots, batons and the hit of rifle butts, the courts and the jail, the prohibition of strikes and trade unions. For the peasants, this means being subjugated to the tyranny of the landowners, the beatings by the gendarmes, the courts, the prison and the banning of any organization.
3. Kemalism means the provoking of Turkish chauvinism in all spheres, the establishment of a merciless national oppression against national minorities, forced turquism and massacres. The principle of “complete independence” of Kemalism means a willingness to accept semi-colonial conditions.
4. A Kemalist Turkey is a semi-colonial Turkey. The Kemalist government means a collaborative government that was initially a lackey of British and French imperialism and subsequently of German imperialism.

Kurdish National Liberation Struggle

In his text The National Question in Turkey (December 1971), Ibrahim Kaypakkaya projected the democratic content of the Kurdish national movement. He illustrated the imperative necessity for the Communists to support the right of self-determination of the Kurdish nation. He showed the necessary fight against Turkish chauvinism propagated by the ruling class and which also affects the Turkish proletariat.
Kaypakkaya ‘s brilliantly formulated that the Marxist-Leninist movement was the most determined enemy of the national oppression inflicted on the Kurdish nation and minority nationalities by the Turkish ruling classes and is at the forefront of the struggles against the national oppression, the persecution of other languages and national prejudices. He affirmed that it unconditionally supported and has always maintained the right to self-determination of the Kurdish nation, oppressed by the bourgeoisie and the Turkish landowners, that is, its right to secede and to create a state independent. The unprecedented national oppression inflicted on the minority nationalities in Turkey by the bourgeoisie and the Turkish owners also makes this imperative.
Kaypakkaya to the last core defended concept of The Marxist-Leninist movement supporting the struggle of oppressed nationalities in general and the Kurdish nation in particular against national oppression, persecution and privilege, and fully supports the general democratic content of the national movement of the oppressed nation.
Kaypakkaya also propagated how the Marxist-Leninist movement steers the class struggle of the proletariat and the Kurdish workers against the bourgeois and small landowners who make up the leadership of the Kurdish national movement as well. He summarised how The Marxist-Leninist movement was fighting against the efforts of the landowners, the mullah’s, the sheikhs and so on to reconcile the struggle against national oppression with their attempts to strengthen their own positions.


Ibrahim Kaypakkaya thus spearheaded, ideologically armed and equipped the Turkish proletariat with the vital instrument of a Communist Party based on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism capable of leading the Revolution of New Democracy to the end. He devised a form of Protracted People’s War adapted to the conditions of Turkey.
The teachings of Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, particularly on the national question, are a treasure house for not only the people of Turkey, but for people of the entire world, in the struggle for liberation. These are the teachings that all communists must assimilate in order to pursue the revolutionary path.
The character of Turkey has not changed today; it remains a semi-colonial semi-feudal state. Kaypakkaya’s thesis thus manifests the further developed form of class consciousness in Turkey.
Today, the TKP/ML and the TIKKO relentlessly surging on the road of the People’s War are an illustration of the struggle waged against imperialism, bureaucratic capitalism and feudalism to the oppressed peoples of the world. The armed struggle or people’s war in Turkey being waged today is resurrecting the very teachings of Kappayaka ,inspite of facing the gravest setbacks. It is the very spirit of Kappayaka that prevents the revolutionary struggle from derailing, in the most dire straits.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has extensively studied National Liberation Struggles. Thanks information from PCmaoiste and Red Spark



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