Turkey is being conducted to a referendum in order to vote the constitutional amendments that were approved by parliament as a result of discussions hidden from the public, the imposition of the open ballot and public brawls. These amendments imply the establishment of a despotic regime. They want to resuscitate the despotic regime which was defeated by the revolutions of the toiling people of Turkey from all nationalities and every corner of the country. The despotic era of Abdul Hamid II represented the interests of the landlord who exploited the Ottoman peasants, the agha, the usurer, the “tax farmer” who plundered the product of peasant, the jackboot and the privileged bureaucracy of the court. The current despotism is based on the interests of imperialist companies, stock market investors, local monopoly capital and the banks, those modern usurers. The Revolutionary Workers’ Party (Devrimci İşçi Partisi, DIP) is appealing to the working class and toiling people of all Turkey for class struggle against this despotic regime, whom they want to resuscitate in the interest of capital!
The Revolution of Liberty (most commonly known as the Young Turk Revolution) that defeated this despotism in 1908 was not limited to Enver Pasha, who later became as pro-German as Abdul Hamid II. The working class (dockers and shipwrights, railroaders and glassworkers, telegraph, tobacco, and tram workers, porters, firefighters and others who made a social and political debut with hundreds of strikes) took part in this revolution and paved the way for the upcoming struggles of the working class of Turkey. The revolution made all these possible by defeating despotism! If our class, from the Saraçhane demonstration in 1961 to the Kavel strike of 1963, from the 15-16 June days of 1970 to the strikes against the MESS (union of bosses in the metal industry) in the late 1980s, from the Spring Actions of 1989 to the gigantic Zonguldak miners’ Ankara march of 1991, from the Kızılay demonstrations of the public employees on 17-18 June 1995 to the “Sakarya Commune” of the Tekel workers in 2009-10, has gone through countless colossal struggles down to the present, it is all thanks to this victory. It is because Abdul Hamid’s despotism was defeated. Our working class participated in the “National Struggle”, carried the republic on its back, fought against coups, stood against the collaborationist governments and their partner, imperialism, all the rights and freedoms we have were obtained by the toiling people as a result of formidable struggles. Now, all these rights and freedoms are under a grave threat! Moreover, the whole nation is on the brink of a collapse and fratricide, due to the avarice and internal struggles of bloodsucking capital under imperialist yoke. Once again, the working class and all the toilers of Turkey face the duty of changing the destiny of the nation, replacing fratricide with class struggle and defeating the bourgeoisie, imperialism and despotism. Our working class, a small minority a century ago while the despotism of Abdul Hamid II was defeated, today constitutes a giant with millions in its ranks. It has all the power, tradition and experience needed to accomplish this mission.
The Revolutionary Workers’ Party is not addressing its appeal to those who voted for this or that party, who espouse a certain lifestyle or who has this or that identity. Our appeal is to the working class and the toiling people from every corner of country, constituting the overwhelming majority of Turkey. To women who are the most resilient, determined and resolute category of our people and to the youth. To those who carry on their back the whole country and those bloodsucking exploiters who ravage the country, the workers producing in the factory or on the field, losing their lives due to work-related killings called “accidents” in mines and shipyards, to those working in the home and dying on the frontline. To those who deserve to live as dignified as the others who live in wealth by exploiting them. To those who deserve to rule the country since it is them who produce all the wealth. We do not address this or that party or any current in a certain party. For our future, we do not count on the internal contradiction of interest of the enemies of people. We are directly appealing to the working class and toiling people to say NO to the despotic regime which will consolidate class domination.
The appeal of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party is an appeal to say NO in the referendum to the despotic regime of capital! This call is not limited to the day of the referendum. The despotism is already being established. The conditions before the ballot box are not equal and free. The State of Emergency, which had supposedly been declared for completely different reasons, is undermining liberties. There is oppression. The press is muzzled. The judiciary has been taken hostage. Strikes are being proscribed.
If it were not for this repression, the toiling people of Turkey would say NO to this despotic regime with an overwhelming majority. Those in power also know it well. If this was not the case, why would they refuse to broadcast the hearings in parliament live and try to hide the provisions of the new amendments from the public? Would they force even their MPs to cast their votes openly when the constitution dictates the secret ballot? Would they threaten the people by saying that “if yes votes were not to win, then terrorist attacks will increase”? This is the reason lying behind court seizing of leaflets calling for NO, oppression against those who make propaganda for NO in a ferry, threats of would-be mafia leaders against everybody who speaks their mind, and armed attacks against those who put up propaganda posters for NO! Yet, all these efforts are in vain. No matter which party they voted for before, the working class and toiling people of this country will riposte by saying NO to those who have said “I could even get my jacket elected” with disdain, who have looked down on them by saying “if the last shall be the first that would be the end of the world” in an insulting manner, who have kicked the brothers of the 301 miners who lost their lives in work-related killing in the mining pits of Soma, who expect them to kowtow before their might. But this response requires saying NO to all kinds of repression before the actual voting. Those who know that they will lose under equal and free conditions cannot be the guarantee of the equal and free conditions! Our toiling people will not trust the cat for the security of the pigeon! The freedom struggle of the workers and toilers started with the referendum process and will continue in the ballot box. And it will continue with all its might after the referendum. The struggle of today in ballot boxes will increasingly continue tomorrow in factories, mines, shipyards, fields and schools. The working class will not bow before despotism!
A powerful NO would strengthen our class struggle against the bourgeoisie and despotism and pave the way for us to regain our right to strike, which has been rendered impossible to use for years, to cast the abomination called subcontracting into the dustbin of history, to prevent the danger of losing our jobs in the imminent economic crisis, to protect the job security of workers and public employees and have a decent life instead of living with a wage that would mean hunger. A powerful NO would save the nation from the brink of collapse as well as fratricide and strengthen our march towards equality and freedom. A powerful NO is the only way to protect and improve the rights and freedoms that women have obtained with colossal struggles and which are under a grave threat. A powerful NO would lay the way open for youth to have a dignified and free life and more importantly to liberate themselves from the clutches of unemployment. The imperialists always get along better with one man and bring down despotic regimes ruled by one man more easily, when they deem it necessary. It is easier for them to create internecine struggles in the country. The nation that oppresses another nation forges its own chains. A powerful NO would open the way for equality and peace between Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic and all fraternal nations and strengthen the common struggle against imperialism.
There are two options confronting each other in this referendum. It is not Turks against Kurds. It is not Alevis against Sunnis. The confrontation is not between different lifestyles, identities, and not even political parties. It does not matter which pro-capital party will say what in the referendum. In Turkey, there are two classes confronting each other in factories, fields, mines, shipyards, schools, communities, hospitals, on the street and everywhere. The worker and toiler majority of society and an exploitive minority are confronting each other. The only option representing the interests of the workers and toilers in this confrontation would be NO. The unity of workers and toilers is the only way to replace fratricide with class struggle.
We invite everyone who has grievances against this system to a common fight in the ranks of the working class against the effort to consolidate class domination with despotism, On this we differ from all those who approach the referendum from a ground of lifestyle, identity, hometown, nationality or religious denomination.
The Revolutionary Workers’ Party has set out on this road! We are appealing to all workers and toilers to become comrades in the path of equality and freedom by saying NO to the bourgeoisie, despotism and imperialism.
Revolutionary Workers’ Party (DIP)
3 February 2017