DIP Statement: Hands off Afrin! Hands off Cyprus! Hands off the metalworkers’ strike!
The Turkish government of Erdoğan and the AKP has declared war on the Syrian Kurdish canton of Afrin and caused havoc in Northern Cyprus by meddling with press freedom. These unacceptable interventions in two different countries are really continuations of the despotic and arbitrary practices of this government domestically, creating an increasingly repressive regime within Turkey itself. As opposed to the impression the so-called “democratic” institutions of the imperialist world are trying to create, the repressive character of the Erdoğan-AKP government is not confined to the area of political and civil rights and freedoms, in which area the violations are of course very clearly present, but manifests itself on a continual basis in industrial relations as well. The government has just banned a strike planned to start on 2 February by all three unions of the metallurgical industry involving a 130 thousand strong workforce.
Hands off Afrin!
The military intervention in Afrin in Northern Syria is presented by the government as a challenge to the intentions of the United States to build a Border Security Force out of the Syrian Democratic Forces dominated by the Kurds of Syria. Members of the government and the pro-government media keep insisting that the US is preparing an assault on Turkey for the future through the organisation of Kurdish forces across the Middle East. The presentation of these grounds for the war on Afrin is utterly false! The so-called Border Security Force is in fact meant as a menace on Iran, not Turkey. Moreover, its scope will be confined to the east of the Euphrates river, since the west of the river is mostly dominated by Russia and its Syrian ally. Since Afrin is the westernmost part of north eastern Syria, Turkey’s military intervention bears no relation to the formation of the Border Security Force. And, most importantly, Turkey is not only a NATO member, but also offers the US free military access to the Incirlik base and others. So if the government intends to fight the alleged malicious intentions of the US, the logical thing is to shut down these bases and exit NATO first. The government will have none of this because it envisions a future for Turkey within the imperialist camp and woos the United States even as it attacks its present policies.
Thus the war is not against US imperialist plans but the formation of an autonomous Kurdish region within the borders of Syria. It is true that the Kurdish movement in Syria is acting totally in alliance, now more and more openly called “strategic alliance”, with US imperialism. But Turkey itself has been engaged in a deeply entrenched alliance with the US for more than 65 years now! So the war in Afrin is between two US allies, which are not symmetrically placed in other respects. Turkey is fighting the struggle for national self-determination on the part of the Kurdish people. So its war is not a just war. It should immediately withdraw.
The Turkish government and the AKP media can barely hide the real intentions behind this war. It is more than an attack on Kurdish autonomy within the borders of another country, Syria. It is in fact conceived as the prelude to an expansion of Turkish military and political influence in the Middle East. Hence it is also a menace on the sovereignty of Syria. Whatever stance one has on Syria, a conquest of parts of its territory by either imperialist or regional expansionist forces should be rejected.
Hands off Cyprus!
It is also this same expansionist policy that is at play in the havoc caused by the Erdoğan-AKP government in Cyprus. Targeting a newspaper (Afrika) published in Northern Cyprus, Erdoğan called his supporters on the island to “respond” to the political position defended by this newspaper drawing a parallel between the occupation by the Turkish military in Norhtern Cyprus and the war on Afrin. Turkey claims that Northern Cyprus is an independent republic, so this was a blatant case of call for violation of press freedom in another country. Mobs responded immediately, storming the premises of the newspaper, throwing fire bombs and entering the building to hunt down the (luckily absent) journalists. The Turkish Cypriot trade union movement organised a riposte with a march of ten thousand-strong protestors. Cyprus seems to have been chosen as the testing ground of the new convergence between the Islamist and fascist wings of the Turkish right, a process that will probably culminate in the assimilation of the latter, and in particular its potentially paramilitary wing, the infamous Grey Wolves, by Erdoğan’s AKP. We condemn the intervention of all Turkish authorities in Cyprus and extend solidarity to Afrika, the newspaper, and the workers’ and democratic movement in Northern Cyprus.
Hands off the metalworkers’ strike!
The Erdoğan-AKP government has banned the metalworkers’ strike crowning the collective bargaining process of fully 130 thousand workers. This is unlawful, illegitimate and unacceptable. It is unlawful because it contravenes Turkey’s international commitments. It is illegitimate because the reason cited, national security, is just an excuse. This is not the first time that the Erdoğan-AKP government has banned strikes, mostly on the same grounds: this government banned three strikes by metalworkers, and one each by glassworkers, petrochemical workers and bank employees only within the space of the last three years! And it is unacceptable because this amounts to condemning the workforce of 130 thousand involved in this strike to the miserable conditions imposed by the bosses.
The strike involves all three unions organised in the metal industry. Metal unions affiliated to three different confederations of absolutely contradictory ideological orientations planned to go on strike simultaneously. This fact alone is sufficient evidence of the urgency of the situation for the workers in this industry, since one of the unions, the largest, is a union that workers protested in their tens of thousands for its docility only two years ago and a second one is affiliated to the confederation controlled in hardly disguised form by the ruling AKP!
We support the just struggle of the metalworkers of Turkey against the imposition of unacceptable terms by the capitalists and declare our full solidarity against intervention by the government in the lawful right to strike by banning this very important action under whatever pretext. We make a strong appeal to all the forces of the working class forces in all countries to turn their attention on this strike since this strike is important in another respect as well. The imperialist powers and their media criticise Erdoğan for his disregard for the freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary and other political and civil rights, but totally ignore his complete alignment with the bosses against the workers and his and his government’s constant violation of the workers’ rights of association and strike. The pro-Western wing of the Turkish bourgeoisie, i.e. the wing organised in TÜSİAD, as well demand the lifting of the State of Emergency, citing the reluctance of foreign capital to invest in such a country. But both unabashedly seize the opportunity when it presents itself in the form of a strike ban: many of the corporations involved in the present metalworkers strike are international companies such as Ford, Mercedes, Renault, Tofaş (Turkish subsidiary of Fiat) and others. And many belong to Koç Holding, the conglomerate that is the flagship of the pro-Western bourgeoisie of Turkey! So a campaign of support and solidarity regarding this strike is really the best class answer to be given to the despotic Erdoğan government and its hypocritical imperialist critics.
For workers’ power, for a unified independent Cyprus, for Kurdish self-determination, for the Socialist Federation of the Middle East and North Africa!
The DIP fights for the strengthening of workers’ organisations, for the intervention in the political arena of the working class, the only class that can fight Erdoğan’s despotism unwaveringly and consistently, for the building of a revolutionary party of the proletariat, for workers’ power. The DIP fights for the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Cyprus, starting with the infamous British bases of Akrotiri and Dikelia and including of course Turkish troops, and a for unified independent Cyprus on the basis of workers’ power and as a member of a Balkan Socialist Federation. The DIP fights for Kurdish, as well as Palestinian, self-determination in the context of a Socialist Federation of the Middle East and North Africa.
The DIP fights for the world socialist revolution!
(Devrimci İşçi Partisi-Revolutionary Workers’ Party)
January 28, 2018