Revolutionary of this and their own definitions

Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C)  is a radical leftist group that tries to
topple the Turkish government with an armed popular revolution for achieving
the classless society based on the principles of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.
DHKP-C announced their ultimate goal in their party doctrine: ‘Our party is a
party that adopted Marxist-Leninist worldview and fighting for that. Its
ultimate gaol is to create classless order and world without exploitation.’1 While
there is no common definition and universal agreement about the definition of
terrorism. The U.N. adopted a definition in UN Security Council Resolution 1566

  ”Criminal acts, including
against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily
injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in
the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a
population or compel a government or an international organization.”

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  Because of this and their own definitions the
EU, U.S. and Turkish Republic recognized DHKP-C as a terrorist organization. On
the on hand, DHKP-C is a typical sample of extremist and Marxist organization,
it adopts the doctrines of Marx, wants to pursue the revolution what
Bolshevists did it in 1917, uses and aims to use the guerilla tactics of Latin
American communists; on the other hand, it has distinctive features and conditions
arising out of its historical backrounds and distinctive conditions of Turkey
like to form uo suburbs in big cities rather than rural, or Nationalistic
structure of Turkey makes achieving their goals difficult. Thus it forces
DHKP-C becaming more extremist and less crowded. Terrorist organizations see
violence as an important means for achieving their goals that are determined
according to their ideologies and adopt violence inevitable method for changing
status quo. Leftist terrorist organizations try to legalize this violence with
fighting against fascism, emperialism or system of exploitation. Due to its
goals about disposal of order and constitution, there is no objection to say
that DHKP-C is a extremist organization. Because extremism is, by its very
nature, anti-democratic; it seeks to abolish constitutional democracy and the
rule of law.2
So, DHKP-C can be included for both extremist and terrorist organization and
this article try to indicate aims and structures of Leftist extremism and state
intervention against this extremism and terrorism with the example of DHKP-C.

 2. History of DHKP-C

  DHKP-C is established in 1994 with today’s name but it is product of
long Marxist-Leninist tradition in Turkey. After some interior divisions and
alteration in Turkish political conjucture, DHKP-C has been evolved and reached
today. So for understanding the history of DHKP-C better, it is needed to
categorization. In this article, the history of DHKP-C will be divided three

1)Marxist-Leninist tradition before 1980 coup d’etat,

2)Fragmentation and reunification processes between 1980-1994,

3)DHKP-C from 1994 to present.

  The breaking points of its
history are chosen according to fragmentation and reunification processes. In
1980 coup d’etat, the organization, like all political movements in Turkey, was
damaged, most of members went to prison and the others were escaped abroad.
After the escaping from prison , the two foremost leader of Revolutionary Left,
Dursun Karata? and Bedri Ya?an had dissenting about whether come back to Turkey
or not. Dursun Karata? advocated that Bedri Ya?an had to go Turkey and become
leader of Armed Revolutionary Union(SDB), armed sub-organization of
Revolutionary Left, but Bedri Ya?an refused this proposal. This discussion
caused a schism and Dursun Karata? established Revolutionary People’s
Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C)  in 30
April 1994. To sum up, 1980 coup d’etat and renamed of Revolutionary Left as
Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front are two main breaking points of
its history.


 2.1 Marxist-Leninist Tradition in Turkey
before 1980 coup d’etat:

 Even before, modern Turkey was established by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,
there was a communist organization, namely Communist Party of Turkey (TKP)
which was founed by Mustafa Suphi in 1920. But this was a weak and legal party,
moreover, despite its legality ,t was banned in every autocracy era in Turkey
like coup d’etats. It had not revolutionary forces and didnt use violence for
achievement of their goals. The archtype of Marxist-Leninist and extremist
organization is Federation of Revolutionist Youth Association in 1966 which
establised by Turkish college students who desired socialist revolution. But
like in Russia before the revolution, these youngs split into many factions,
some of them desired revolution lile Bolshevik did it, others were abstaining
about using violence like Menshevik wanted it. So first division occured in
1970 and people who wanted to use guerilla warfare tactics with inspiration of
Latin American leftist groups established Turkey Public Liberation
Party-Front(THKP-C) under the leadership of Mahir Çayan. This group did
terrorist acts like robbing, murdering and arson. After a clash between
security forces and this group, Çayan and his friends was killed in K?z?ldere
village. Other members of THKP-C were also arreested under martial laws. Split
and partition are destiny of Turkish left. So the second split happened in 1976
and THKP-C divided into Militia Youth and Revolutionary Youth(Dev-Genç).
Dev-Genç was similar one to today’s DHKP-C but as soon as it was established,
the new organization was also divided again based on the provinces, Istanbul
wing and Ankara wing. In a article which was published in Revolutionary Path,
USSR was indicated like revisionist dictatorship after that a group of people
under the leadership of Dursun Karatas who also the founder of DHKP-C objected
to it and established Revolutionary Left(Dev-Sol) in Istanbul against
Revolutionary Path in Ankara. When the Revolutionary Left was established there
was suitable environment for extremism and terrorism since Turkey was in
corruption and there was a civil war in a small scale. Leftist and Nationalist
groups were killing each others in universities and streets. So Revolutionary
Left played active role in this process and legitimate its violence with the
discourse of fighting against fascism. Revolutionary Left was only one of them
which were fighting against Nationalists (Grey Wolfes) so despite the fact that
there were interior clashes among Leftists, they were unificating against
Nationalists. In comparison with Leftist, the Nationalist were more organized
and they gathered under a single roof of Grey Wolfes. This bloody years ended
with a bloody intervention, a military coup, in 12 September 1980.


2.2 Fragmentation and
Reunification Processes between 1980 and 1994

 When the military took power and
handled government in 12 september 1980, it walked al l over the extremist and
radical gropus, both leftist and rightist one’s in Turkey. The chaotic
environment and bloody fightings between leftists and rightist groups were
ended with bloody and undemocratic way. After the military coup, 650.000 people
were taken into custody, 1243 of them were related Revolutionary Left.
1.683.000 were labelled, 14.000 people were deprived of citizenship of Turkish
Republic and 30.000 people escaped abroad as political refugues.3
Despite that Revolutionary Left’s main case is most massive case of 12
September, Revolutionary Left became more powerful than its situation before
the military coup in long term. Because all of its alternatives in Leftist wing
were eliminated in the coup but Revolutionary Left went on its activities
despite that all of its top-level leaders were in prison or abroad. For example
they killed Mahmut Dikler who was vice-chief of police in Istanbul just three
years later after the coup. The another reason for refreshemnt of Revolutionary
Left is related organization in prison. There is a common phrase in Turkey that
says ‘PKK was established in Diyarbak?r jail’, same thing is acceptable for
Revolutionary Left and Metris jail. Pressures and tortures in Metris made
Revolutionary Left more active and extremist rather than made an end of the
organization. Due to they lost their militants, Revolutionary Left were trying
to announce its voice with indefinite hunger strikes in Metris and Sa?mac?lar
jail between 1980 and 1985 but they continued gathering militant in jails. And
at the and of 1985, the leaders of organization in prison decided to retreat
since it is not possible to compensate their heavy losses in short term.


   Dursun Karata? and Bedri Ya?an
escaped from jail in 23 October 1989, the other members also started to escape
from prisons or they were released so Revolutionary Left become active again in
outside of prisons and started to rrule from abroad. In 1980’s and begining of
1990’s they escaped to mostly Middle East countries like Syria, Palestine, but
at the end of 1990’s they started to live in European countries like France and
Netherlands. But the organization entered a new path, from 1989 to 1994 there was
always a dispute between Dursun Karata? and Bedri Ya?an, and the organization
divided according to their leaderships. Ya?an and his advocators were accusing
Karata? for bossism and nonpreparation for operations. Meantime, Dursun Karata?
were preparing for new party and new structure of organization. Before the
establishment of new party, the main opponents of Dursun Karata?, including
Bedri Ya?an were be caught dean in 6 March 1993 and impediments to new party
and leadership of Dursun Karata? were disappeared.

2.3. DHKP-C from 1994 to

  After the death of Bedri Ya?an, Dursun Karata? declared the
establishment of Revolutionary People’s Liberation Part-Front in Damascus,
Syria. In first congress they established sub-groups, central committee and
announced structures and goals of DHKP-C. After that they wanted to enlarge and
support from their partisans, old revolutionaries and lone-wolf communists.
Now, the only revolutionary and large-scaled organization was DHKP-C so they
were welcomed in Leftist Front. For getting famous, DHKP-C started its
activities immediately and firstly they assasianated old Minister of Justice,
Mehmet Topaç, in 29 October 1994. The state reacted this assasination
rigorously and when the operations against DHKP-C started the leaders of DHKP-C
escaped abroad again. After Gazi incidents and assasination of Özdemir Sabanc?
who most famous and richest businesman of Turkey, most of DHKP-C supporters
were being arrested and the organization entered into the process of
fragmentation again. And history repeated, Again DHKP-C found its losses in
prisons, but  its power were dying down
in the outside of prisons. The last part of gathering strength of DHKP-C
occured during Gezi Protest. Oppenent people radicalized and learnt conflict in
Gezi Protests, thus DHKP-C found suitable environment for sources of militant.


3. Ideology and Structure

  People’s Liberation Party-Front of Turkey, established by Mahir Çayan in
1970 was the first systematic Marxist organization which sees violence as legitimate
way for achieving classless society, Çayan and his friends admired and and took
inspiration from Revolutionary Left organizations in Latin America, so they
tried to copy their structures and strategies. Their successors in Turkey
pursued to THKP-C AND Mahir Çayan like DHKP-C. Hence in a Leaflet, named
‘Liquadationism and Revolutionary Streak’ in 1978, the members of Revolutionary
Left announced their goals as ‘the aim of Revolutionary Left is ensuring
ideological unity around the way of THKP-C and raising anti-fascist fight.’4
Armament and violence are basic strategies for desired revolution. According to
them ‘without revolutionary violence it can not be talked about  real struggle against fascism’ So their
action stretegies is similar to other extremist movements. It seeks to abolish
constitutional order by using illegal and violent way for achieving to create
classless society according to Marxist principles and to create world withour


Anti-democracy is a character of Extremist movements and in this case  DHKP-C believes that the establishment that
the establishment of socialist state is not possible with majority in
parliament, it is possible only with armed and organized struggle of peoples.
Turkey’s revolution should be anti-imperialistic character diffrent from
America and the European states since they see Turkey as puppet of emperial
powers so they often attack symbolic places like U.S. embassy (for example they
attacked U.S. embassy in Ankara in 2013 and attacked U.S. consulate in Istanbul
in 2015). As it is mentioned above, the members of DHKP-C ,who advocates
Marxist- Leninist ideology, adopt strategies of Lenin about revolution. Thus
peaceful passing to socialism is an imagine. So DHKP-C is promoting armament
and guerilla warfare to their proponents in order to prepare society to
revolution. After the escaping leading members of DHKP-C from jails, they was
sent to the Bekaa Valley to learn the tactics of guerilla warfare. The
strategies of DHKP-C can be summarized with Politicized Armed War (PASS) which
adopts anti-imperialistic and anti-oligarchist(proletariat) people’s revolution
with supports of debouched communities like Alawis  and Kurds. Mahir Çayan who is symbol of
Marxist movement in Turkey defines their strategy as follows:

 ”The strategy which takes armed propaganda as a basis and subordinates
all other political, economic and democratic forms of struggle to this basic
form of struggle, is called the politicized military war strategy.”5
(Collected works)


  After the 1980 coup d’etat, they
changed their motivations, still they expect Marxist-Leninist revolution but
they started also using the emotions of avenging and abuse minority issues. The
example of avenging can be given with that the assasination of Revolutionary
Left  started to concentrates retired
generals and bureaucrats of  military
government in 1980. For the second one, abusing minority issues, they embraces
ethnic and secterian policies. Alawism is a sect that includes approximately %8
of population and the organization is finding place with abusing their
outsiderdom feelings for gathering militant. There is no direct relation with
Alawism and DHKP-C but DHKP-C includes a lot of Alawi people. Also they are
using Kurdish rhetoric but the existence of PKK makes gathering militant
difficult especially in rural areas. Kurdish people who are living in big
cities or studying at universities tend to DHKP-C more than Kurdish people who
are staying in rural area. Because PKK are holding the power in rural but where
PKK have not enough power, Kurdish extremist and communist people can join the
DHKP-C rather than DHKP-C.


In last years DHKP-C started to named itself with only ‘People’s Front’
and they often stress the word of people so who are these people and what is
the meaning of it for DHKP-C? The organization wants to show that  ‘ they are fighting for the people and this
fight as people’s war.6 These
people, of course,  proleteriat with
reference to Marxist doctrine. Suburbs in big cities are mostly organization
places and people who are living in shantyhouses and working in factories
sources of militant and supporters of DHKP-C. When it is examined, these people
has low income and low educational level or college students who have lower
class families. And the organization wants to reflect the opinions and feelings
of these people. Conservative people are also from mostly lower classes but the
difference is related to secularism and the feelings of outsiderdom. The
supporters of DHKP-C have secular worldview even if it has religious
affiliation, Sunni Muslim or Shia Muslim (Alewi people includes the categorie
of Shia), the religion has not important for their lifes. But conservative and
nationalist people who come from low classes can be loyal to state despite
their low status in society. Turkey is a secular state according to
constitution and its laws but nation consciousness of Turkish people is
directly connected to Islam in the minds of Muslim people so Muslims can ignore
their economic backwardness. On the other side, Kemalist people are also
secular like communists but they nationalistic world view and this makes
Kemalist loyal to state and its ideology. But 
the supporters of DHKP-C are not religious or nationalist people so the
ties between these people and state are more fragile. Because of this reasons,
they can be more extremist, anti-statist 
and it increases their tentations against state.


  DHKP-C states that there is a difference and
an antagonism between people and the state in Anatolia throughout history.7 This
resembles the typical teaching of Karl Marx that there is always an antagonism
between people who have the power and have not:

  ”The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian,
lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and
oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an
uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either
in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of
the contending classes.”


  In addition to
their expressions about the capitalist structure of Turkey, they often stress
Turkey is a country where every cruelty takes places. According to the member
of DHKP-C Turkey is a corrupt country and for becoming the honorouble man,
people need to fight against this corruption. For example in the journal od
DHKP-C they said : ‘The only way for protecting honour is fighting against this
disgusting order in a country which cruelty and powerty have ruling’ (Kurtulu?,
4 April 1998:38). So they also fighting immorality in society rather than
fighting against only capitalism and imperialism.


  Different from PKK and Islamic
terrorist organizations, DHKP-C never targets ordinary people directly or avoid
attacks to crowd of people (but sometimes they kill irrelevant and unusual
people or they organize an attack against municipal buses and it can includes
attack to crowd of civilian people). Mostly the plan of attacks  are planned firstly in their high committee,
who will be killed? Or where will be attacked, later they apply. In accordance
with their plans, their targets have mostly symbolic importance like retired
generals who played active role in 1980 coup d’etat, deputies of Nationalist
parties, symbols of imperialism like U.S. embassy or NATO buildings in Turkey and
important business people or officials. For example, they killed a public
prosecutor,Mehmet Selim Kiraz in 2015. The feature and importance of this
prosecutor is that he was hearing the case of Berkin Elvan who was killed by a
police during Gezi Protests. When the case of Berkin Elvan took a long time,
they wanted to take the revenge of Berkin Elvan and give a message to
government. Sense of revenge is crucial matter, they legalize their murders and
crimes with revenge and blood of revolutionary martyrs. ‘Even if we have not any reason, we live and fight for revenge.’
(Kurtulu?, 4 April 1994:4) The degree of martyrdom is important for
organization, the high commitee wants that their dead friend who died in an
attack should be memorialized as martyr and the member of organization should
fight for their revenge. So, one of the most important goal of DHKP-C is


 To sum up, the goal of DHKP-C can
be summorized in four categorie : make socialist revolution happen with
abolishing capitalism, fighting against fascism and imperialsm, to protect the
rights of minorities  and avenging of
their fellows.



Library of T.B.M.M, DHKP-C Parti program?,

Astrid Bötticher, Toward Academic Consensus Definitions of Radicalism and
Extremism, Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol 11, No. 14, 2017,

Kronoloji Öncesi ve Sonras?yla 12 Eylül, Aljazeera Türk, 9 May 2015,

A. Osman Köse, Devrimci Sol Dava Dosyas?-Yaz?l? Belgeler, Haziran Press,
?stanbul,  1991, p.12.

Ahmet Yayla, A Case Study of Leftist Terrorism and Its Prevention in Turkey
:DHKP-C, Thesis prepared for the degree of Master of Science, University of
Texas, August 2001p.64

Ahmet Yayla, A Case Study of Leftist Terrorism and Its Prevention in Turkey
:DHKP-C, Thesis prepared for the degree of Master of Science, University of
Texas, August 2001, p.28

Mehmet I??k, ?iddetin Dili De?i?mez: DHKP-C ve ?BDA-C Terör Örgütlerinin
Söylemlerinin Benzerli?i Üzerine Bir ?nceleme, 
Zinde Press, 2013, p.148

Samih Teymur, An Analyses of Recruitment by Observing the Revolutionary
People’s Liberation Party-Front(DHKP-C) Terrorist Organization in Turkey,
Thesis Prepared for the Degree of Master of Science, University of North Texas,
August 2004, p.39

Library of T.B.M.M, DHKP-C Parti program?, p.3,

Samih Teymur, An Analyses of Recruitment by Observing the Revolutionary
People’s Liberation Party-Front(DHKP-C) Terrorist Organization in Turkey,
Thesis Prepared for the Degree of Master of Science, University of North Texas,
August 2004, p.46

Samih Teymur, An Analyses of Recruitment by Observing the Revolutionary
People’s Liberation Party-Front(DHKP-C) Terrorist Organization in Turkey,
Thesis Prepared for the Degree of Master of Science, University of North Texas,
August 2004, p.46

12  ?nternethaber, DHKP-C Nedir? Terör Örgütünün
Kanl? Türkiye Eylemleri, 03.03.2016,