Turkish left unites
By Jennifer Thompson
In the Turkish capital of Ankara on June 16, 1000 delegates gathered for the first congress of the Unified Socialist Party (BSP). The BSP unites more than 10 groups — the majority of the anti-capitalist left — who voted to create the new party of just over 3000 members.
BSP president Sadun Aren said the party was "an expression of the need for a real opposition to the attacks of the bourgeoisie and imperialism on the Turkish working class". He added that the parties — weak before unification in the BSP — had been unable to build any real resistance to the 1980 coup, and paid heavily.
The BSP denounces the military repression of the Kurdish people in Turkey (northern Kurdistan). It supports the Kurdish quest for national self-determination, although it doesn't support the Kurdistan Workers Party, which has been waging armed struggle against the Turkish military for 10 years.
Despite the end of military dictatorship in Turkey, the repressive and undemocratic laws of the 1982 constitution remain. Congress delegates were searched by police, and a government commissioner attended the legal gathering.
The post-dictatorship government has also passed repressive laws, including the infamous 1991 anti-terrorism law. The parliament made some changes on July 23, when it passed 15 constitutional amendments in an effort to boost Turkey's chances of joining the European Union. These included removing honourable mention of the 1980 coup from the constitutional preamble, allowing trade unions to be politically affiliated and allowing public servants to join trade unions.
The parliament failed to change the anti-terrorism law, which was used last year to convict and imprison six Kurdish MPs for speaking publicly about Kurdish national rights.
Neither was article eight of the penal code scrapped. This article allows the draconian state security courts to try those accused of separatism, resulting in the imprisonment of thousands of writers, journalists and activists.
Supporters of internationally famous writer Yashar Kemal had hoped for the article to be repealed in time for his trial. He is accused of separatism on the basis of an article written for the German magazine Der Spiegel condemning Turkish military atrocities against the Kurds.