soL news interviewed Kemal Okuyan, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), about the escalating tension within the Turkish politics following the local elections of March 31, as the leader of the parliamentary main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, faced a physical attack and a lynch attempt on April 21 during the funeral of a Turkish soldier in Ankara’s Çubuk district.
Okuyan reflected the communist party’s evaluations regarding the role of various bourgeois political actors including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP government, its fascist ally MHP, and the opposition parties.
Just after the agenda of electoral certificate ended following the local elections, the escalating political tension has hit the top with the attack against the chair of the CHP, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, in Ankara’s Çubuk district. Furthermore, it is apparent that this tension may have some social consequences. How do you evaluate the attack and the following attempts of provocation after the incident?
These are not alien to the political culture and state governance in Turkey. This is how it has worked for years. We should not get used to it, we should raise our voice every time, yet this is the sad truth. Such incidents make it possible to change so many balances in a short span of time. This is particularly important because there is no distinction of parties; the people have started to lose their ideological references, they are sliding in massive numbers. It is important that the lynching attempt against Kılıçdaroğlu has come in such an environment when the political balances tend to shift. For one thing, there is a political rule that entirely paved the way for this attack. Hence, we should not allow the debate on what was intended with the attack to temper the responsibility of the government. We are talking about an attack that was conducted in accordance with the public instruction of the Interior Minister who had underlined and proudly declared his instructions in front the media, in such an environment where the top administrators of institutions who are supposedly responsible for Turkey’s security were on the scene.
This is the first thing one must say. However, I can say ‘no’ to the question “whether the incident on Sunday is only made up of this fact”. One should not doubt that this incident was planned in a very detailed manner. I am not talking about the “punch”; when the things come to that point, the reactionary forces in Turkey would be a volunteer for that part. Yet still, state intervention is a must for the things to come to that point. No significant provocation did take place spontaneously in Turkey. There is a series of reasons to think that the incident is related to the intra-ruling party accounts. Speaking of the ruling party, I do not mean the AKP in the strict sense, this is a wide coalition including all sorts of religious communities, the old “brothers” who are sitting on the bench, for now, the bureaucrats, even the politics experts from other parties. There is an increasingly escalating fight here. Is it possible to suggest that the team, including such actors as Devlet Bahçeli [the leader of the fascist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Süleyman Soylu [the Interior Minister] who have taken the side of “escalating the tension”, has won this fight? In other words, is it possible to win by saying, “Hey Erdoğan, you may draw a blank after losing İstanbul, but we do not concede it, look what we can do”? Yes, one of the wings of the political rule recommends Erdoğan to fight in favor of their financial interests and other concerns. However, this way might lead them, including Erdoğan, to a dead end.
On the one hand, our capital that is materialized within the body of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), the imperialist centers, the other wing of the government and the opposition mention about “normalization”. We can see that where Erdoğan had ended up yesterday because of the options other than “normalization”. On the other hand, today there is such a coalition in power that it includes dozens of centers that can compete with each other in a reckless attempt for turning the balances upside down. The Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) is convening today; they will also highly feel the pressure of these centers because they are also part of such centers.
As you said, the election results have been considered as an opportunity for the calls of normalization in bourgeois politics. The attack came after this, and the inflammatory statements of the Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli are also discussed as much as the attack itself. Is there any resistance against normalization?
First, what they mean with normalization is to accept the AKP regime through some back steps or with the condition of creating a much more controlled and regular AKP. This is the call of capital and the imperialists. A wide section of the Turkish society has become ready for this thanks to the opposition. To us, there is no normalization here. The society is plainly cheated here. Let us underline this fact at first. As I said, on the other side, there are some sections that will lose their ongoing strength because of this normalization. It is natural for them to resist. Here we can separately read the role of Devlet Bahçeli. He is not inviting Erdoğan to the tension; he may be pushing him to it. That is like a divorcement… It is possible to think that they decided to transfer the role of tension-generating mainly to the MHP, because what they call “normalization” also requires the existence of the “abnormal”. Any project involving all the actors of the bourgeois order is very dangerous for the capitalist class. Bahçeli seems to say, “You can normalize, but I am here”. Erdoğan is on the verge of a decision, and although his heart is not beating for normalization, it seems that he has no other chance under these circumstances.
When it comes to Hulusi Akar… This man, who said yesterday “Dear friends, you have given your message” [while addressing the lynching crowds], is not the Defense Minister of a decade before but of the existing presidential system. Something unrelated has come to my mind; years ago, there was a Lebanese commander who offered tea to the Israeli troops that attempted to invade Lebanon, then the Hezbollah and some other forces came and cleaned this shame and kicked the invaders. There were Defense Minister, generals, the top security officer, and this incident took place in a village in Çubuk [Ankara]. Kılıçdaroğlu is not the “miserable” one in this picture. The picture of yesterday showing the state that they completely “renewed” is the biggest problem for the political rule. They would have buried under that picture if a 17-year-old young man had agitated and attacked not with punches but a knife. Well, it is not certain whether they are the ones who accomplished in this picture.
The Mayor of İstanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu’s mass electoral celebration rally was taking place in İstanbul’s Maltepe district during the attack. The stage setting of the rally was highly interesting. Prayers, Mozart, and the janissary band played the İzmir anthem [a patriotic song that is widely played and chanted by pro-Atatürk people in Turkey]…
One of the aspects of this rally is that hundreds of thousands of people who were fed up with “failures” in search of getting rid of hopelessness filled the rally field in Maltepe. Of course, this is a social energy, and this energy would adopt the said normalization. This is why İmamoğlu had been nominated as a candidate, and he has been going on well. The rally with prayers of yesterday is a message to the political rule, particularly to “Erdoğan”: “We are ready”. A considerable section of the people who describe themselves as Kemalists started to see the prayers at the stage as if something normal. As some advocate this fact by saying that “Atatürk had also inaugurated the parliament with prayers”, that is really interesting in terms of showing the current position of the Kemalists. We do not intend to give a lesson of Kemalism to them. Yet still, we will not give up the lesson of secularism. A friend of mine, a journalist, told me, “As the CHP failed to enable Abdullah Gül [the former President from the AKP] to establish a party, it became the party of Abdullah Gül,” I agree. It is impossible for every people who defend the Republican values to be part of this normalization. Furthermore, “magic” is something temporary. Whether the janissary band plays Bella Ciao or whether they organize the rallies after the Friday prayer, there are some restrictions for the working people to wait under these economic conditions.
TKP released a statement yesterday, and said, “Those who say ‘now it is time to embrace’ and the lynching fascist herd that attack everywhere are serving the same purpose”. Can you elaborate on this evaluation and your call for spreading a different political style?
We are not embracing the exploiters, thieves, tyrants, bigots, and imperialists. We are rejecting this in the name of the people. I do not think I should elaborate much more. They are both sides of the medallion. Let me put it roughly; a tense Erdoğan on the one side, a smiling Gül on the other. Heads or tails? Is this the fate of Turkey? Organized people can overcome provocations, the culture of lynching, lies, blackmails, tyranny, and the imposition of a lesser evil. This is what we are fighting for.