soL international will be publishing interviews with district and province candidates of TKP from all around the country until the elections. In what follows, you can find the first one of the series.
Aziz Çelik, a laborer who worked as an agricultural worker, tobacco worker, and construction worker for years, will run as a mayoral candidate from the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) for the Adıyaman's Kömür municipality in the forthcoming local elections in Turkey to be held on March 31, 2019.
Çelik told soL news the problems of Adıyaman, his plans about the city under a socialist municipality, and how his candidacy from the TKP has caused excitement in the Kömür district of Adıyaman.
Following the announcement of Çelik's candidacy, an election office was opened on Sunday, Feb. 24 in the district after the intensive campaign swing.
First of all, could you briefly tell us who you are?
My name is Aziz Çelik. I was born in Adıyaman's Kömür district, where I spent all my childhood. We are four siblings, we all worked as seasonal workers. We would go to Turkey's central Anatolian provinces of Kayseri and Konya to collect sugar beet, the eastern province of Malatya to collect apricot, central Anatolian province of Niğde to collect potatoes, the southern province of Isparta for apples, and the northern province of Giresun for hazelnut. Then, I started to work at construction sites with my father. I worked on mold and iron in almost all neighborhoods of Kömür district and Adıyaman. After a while, construction works came to a stopping point, and this time we began to be involved in agricultural labor. We started to grow tobacco because our region has the best climate and geographical conditions to grow it. During this process, I tried to complete my university education at the same time. In the daytime, I worked at construction sites, while I went to Adıyaman University in the evenings to be able to attend the courses and complete my university education in Marketing and Advertising Department.
We have recently witnessed the protests of farmers in Adıyaman. What do you think about these protests? What challenges do farmers face?
A significant part of livelihood in Adıyaman is tobacco, but this source of living is extremely troubled by the government policies causing serious economic harm to farmers. The farmers cannot sell their tobacco, and tobacco sellers who want to sell their products out of the province have troubles on the roads. It is now a crime to have tobacco in vehicles, and gendarmerie forces searching the vehicles on the road and seizing the farmers' products. The current government promises to solve such problems every election period, but farmers in Adıyaman have not seen any steps taken towards the solution of these problems.
What can you say about Kömür district you live and Adıyaman province in general? What are the political trends, problems, and needs of the region?
People living in Kömür are generally leftist. Kömür is not a developed district. The roads of the district are rough, and there are almost no educational institutions here. The authorities just started to give high school education in the last two years in Kömür, but this high school building was actually a primary school building. Our young population is quite dense, and unemployment is high. People here try to complete their education despite various difficulties. In Kömür, there are no university graduates working in their own field of study, including me. They work either as farmers or have to stay at home because of unemployment. Young people migrate from their towns and villages in the hope of finding jobs, but a very small number of people manages to find jobs in their fields of study. Therefore, they either return to Kömür or work in another city in an area that they have no experience. Despite the great efforts made by these people, unfortunately, there is no way to earn living in return for this great effort.
What do the local people of Kömür think about your candidacy from the TKP? How do you intend to present TKP to the inhabitants during your political campaign for the elections?
People living in the district have welcomed warmly when they heard my candidacy from the TKP, they have been very glad to hear the name of the party for the local elections in Kömür. Some of the locals said that they were already in such an expectation. We got the support of lots of people. In Kömür district, electoral competition is mostly based on the ''names'', but this time was the opposite, and the TKP as a political party has outweighed. My family also embraced the party and said that "the TKP is our party, it represents us with its constitution and programme". We've witnessed the same reaction in the local people living in Kömür. They are very glad to see a political party talking about labor and touching upon the lives of workers. The socialist municipalism experience in Turkey's eastern province of Dersim's Ovacık district has already aroused sympathy. There is an atmosphere in which people believe that we can manage to bring a socialist local government in Kömür under the leadership of the TKP as in Ovacık.
When I talked to our friends here, I said: "I will work with the workers". I will not only sit on the chair at the office to boss over the employees like other mayors of bourgeois political parties. If we have work to do, we will accomplish it with all the workers of the municipality in solidarity with all the people living in the district. We are going to revive Kömür with our own fair hands.