The Death Fasts and Prison Raids in Turkey

A special report from Turkey which analyses the situation of the political prisoners in Turkish jails, the recent hunger strikes and prison raids by the security forces. The article examines the tactics taken by the prisoners from a working class perspective.

There are 12,000 political prisoners in Turkey, where the most fundamental liberties even from the standpoint of bourgeois democracy such as freedom of speech, demonstration and organisation are non-existent or restricted to the point of almost non-existence. The great majority (about 8,000) of the prisoners are connected with the Kurdish PKK. Again the great majority of these prisoners have been sentenced for various acts - such as writing an article in favour of peace or giving food to the guerrillas - which are all regarded as "helping and harbouring a terrorist organisation" in the words of the reactionary bourgeois penal code.

Anti-democratic laws, sentences given without much evidence in the process of judgement, statements taken under torture and fabricated claims by the police mean many years of imprisonment for many people. Among these are journalists who wrote only a single article, youths from high schools and universities imprisoned for 15 years just for writing slogans or hanging posters on walls, as well as very old people aged over 70 imprisoned many years for supplying food to the organisation, and so on.

In addition to all this, the prisons themselves have been turned into torture centres, where people are disabled physically and mentally and killed under severe torture. Such operations, frequently carried out on the basis of disgustingly weak pretexts, have become very ordinary events in Turkey. A recent example of this was what happened last year in Ulucanlar Prison in Ankara, where 10 young people were killed under severe torture (burning by means of chemicals, electrical shocks, bombardment by heavily pressurised water, shooting, the breaking of arms and legs) after armed raids on the wards. Yes, all this kind of thing does do not only take place in the headquarters of the political police, but also in the prisons where the prisoners who have already been sentenced to tens of years are confined. Without understanding this picture it is impossible to understand the actions launched by prisoners.

Ward System

The prisons in Turkey are generally based on the ward system. The wards are designed to accommodate 15-50 people under normal conditions, but in effect this can be increased to a level of as much as 120 people as a result of massive overpopulation in the prisons. The prisoners are also discontented with this overcrowding, where they are compelled to sleep on the floor, or 2-3 together in the same bed. So in the case of Ulucanlar Prison the prisoners who reacted against this and received no answer broke the walls and combined the wards to gain space. This was the pretext of the operation.

The state has been discontented with the ward system for a long time. Because this system in its present form turns ever growing numbers of people against the state. The capitalist system itself, and its prison system, creates its own gravediggers. When a youth at the age of 16 happens to be put in a prison for merely hanging up a banner, after a while he or she appears to be, in the words of bourgeois specialists, a "hardened revolutionary". The state relates this to the ward system and tries to present the prisons as "nests of terrorism".

It is true that in a country where the number of revolutionary prisoners is counted in tens of thousands, the prison wards without doubt would, and have, become places of "free" discussion, of the exchanging of ideas, where people teach themselves theoretically, politically and ideologically.

In a country governed by a deficient bourgeois democracy, by a parliament and a government at the top of which stand the General Staff of the army, anyone is regarded by the state as a terrorist, ranging from 13 years old boys writing political slogans on school desks to university students demanding their academic-democratic rights, and striking workers, or public sector workers demanding their right to unionise.

Convulsed by the agonies of a belated process of capitalist development and incapable of satisfying the demands of democracy coming from all sections of the society, the Asiatic-minded bourgeois state is merely doing what it would inevitably do, unless the working class enters the political arena as a revolutionary force: step up the repression and state terrorism! By shutting up the revolutionaries, leftists and opponents in prisons en masse, this capitalist system gives rise to an organised opposition in the prisons by its own actions, while trying to do away with its opponents. Because it knows that it cannot shut their mouths outside and satisfy their demands, there remains only one alternative: to smash the revolutionary organisation inside, to break the solidarity developed by the revolutionaries between themselves, to isolate people and deprive them of their identity, personality and revolutionary thoughts.

F-Type Cells

To liquidate the revolutionary organisation in the prisons, the bourgeois state introduced the notorious Article 16 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. In the Prison Guide prepared by the Justice Ministry we read such striking lines as: "Terrorists must not communicate with each other. Because the terrorist dies just like a fish out of water when he cannot communicate. In other words, his revolutionary, i.e. destructive, side dies when the sources or the canals that feed the terrorist mentally and from the standpoint of ideas are cut and dried."

According to Article 16: "Those who are arrested or sentenced for terrorist crimes will be held in single or triple rooms (read "cells") during their imprisonment, must not utilise common spaces, must not be allowed to communicate with each other, must not be allowed access to visitors." Moreover, any kind of political "crime" means terror in the language of bourgeois law in Turkey. According to the understanding of Western people, terrorism is generally regarded as acts such as bombings and armed attacks. But not here!

In Turkey not only the revolutionaries involved in armed acts, but any kind of opponents of the regime are targeted by the Anti-Terror Act and its Article 16. How can a man capable of thinking contend that the 4000 people who are supposed to be confined into the 12 newly built F-Type prisons (each with the capacity of 350 on the average) can be involved in armed struggle? It should not be so difficult to understand that it is a big lie of the state to describe the nearly 12,000 revolutionary-political prisoners as terrorists, while even the PKK, one of the most powerful guerrilla movements, has no more than 5000 armed militants.

In its "effort" to adapt its laws to the European Union, Turkey began its homework by first adapting its prisons. These so called F-Type prisons with their room-type structure comply with the EU standards. Accordingly, the EU, which pretends to be the champion of democracy and human rights, has already approved this new type of prison and has not uttered a word about the recent events in the prisons. Moreover, reports of these events were published in the European press which portrayed them as caused by the prisoners "rebelling against the prison reforms". So, to isolate people and deprive them of their identities, to "kill their revolutionary side" means "reforms" in the language of bourgeoisie! The Turkish bourgeoisie seems to have surpassed its European class-brothers in playing with words, when it called this operation "back to life", in which dozens of revolutionaries were massacred.

Although complying with the EU standards in terms of room structure, the F-Type prisons have been built for only political prisoners and according to Article 16 the prisoners are not allowed to utilise the areas of common use, in stark contrast to the system now in use in Europe. These new prisons introduced in the so-called "back to life" operation - which was in essence a massacre on January 19 - were designed to prevent the prisoners from seeing each other and being heard by anyone. There are showers and toilets in the 8-square metre rooms accommodating one to three persons, in order to eliminate any chance of seeing other people by going out of the cells to satisfy these needs. Even the access to the extremely tiny courtyards is under the control of the guards. One can see only the walls of this courtyard through the windows, and a tiny patch of sky when allowed into the courtyard. The prisoner hasn't got the "luxury" of turning the light on and off either, because the switches are outside the room. The lights are kept on for 24 hours, and not turned off. In E-Type prisons which are currently in use, the same procedure is being carried out and it is established that many prisoners have health problems with their eyes because of this. Built for the sole purpose of isolating them, these prisons mean something only slightly different to burying the prisoners alive in their graves.

If you add the physical torture to this absolute isolation and psychological torture, it is obvious that the attack on the revolutionaries meant "die or give up". The prisoners who are in solidarity, and can hardly safeguard themselves in the wards, will have no chance of defending themselves when they are alone. And that is the aim of the state. Think about this: such a capitalist state, which is capable of carrying out armed midnight raids even into wards of 100 people and kill dozens of people under torture, what would such a state be capable of doing to prisoners when it finds them alone?

The Development of the Hunger Strikes and Death Fasts

The resistance of the political prisoners was an attempt to defend themselves against this attack, meant to deprive them of their identity, personality and organisation. The campaign waged by the revolutionary organisations against these prisons could find no echo either in the bourgeois media or in the bourgeois government - nor, unfortunately, in the working class unions - from the day the F-Type prisons were placed on the agenda. There is no doubt that one of the reasons for this is the inherent incapacity of petty-bourgeois organisations to establish serious links with the working class. Of course, the role of the deep campaign of de-politicisation waged by the ruling class throughout the whole of Turkish society in the 20 years since the military coup of September 12, 1980 cannot be disregarded. But the revolutionary prisoners could not remain silent in the face of this attack, whatever the cost.

In a country where the number of revolutionaries who have not had the experience of bourgeois dungeons is very small, where even lifting your finger carries the risk of being confined to prison, the threat of being confined to cells meant imposing a further setback on the political prisoners. Especially from the standpoint of petty-bourgeois revolutionary organisations it is obvious that their forces outside the prison walls would weaken tremendously if their power inside is weakened. Both the bourgeoisie and the revolutionaries know this.

This was the process and the motive that has driven the revolutionary organisations to hunger strikes. The hunger strikes (indefinite) launched in September 20, 2000 found no echo in the public opinion. There was no statement either from a government official or any union leader, and also very little news on the television or in the newspapers about the event. The announcements and protests found no place in the bourgeois media even as an ordinary news item. The demands of the revolutionaries were formulated a follows:

  • Close the F-Type prisons.
  • Abolish the Anti-Terror Act with all its consequences.
  • Abolish the Three-Party Protocol between the Ministries of Health, Justice and Interior.
  • Abolish the State Security Courts.
  • Trial of those who were involved in the recent prison massacres.
  • Release those political prisoners whose health problems after the death fasts of 1996 are chronic and still continuing, and those who were injured in various raids and were not treated.
  • Abolish all the anti-democratic laws against the peoples' struggle for democracy and freedom; put an end to the repression.

This silence led to the decision to carry the hunger strikes one step further to a fast to the death. On October 19, the 30th day of the hunger strikes, the revolutionary prisoners lay down to die.

When the resistance, launched by the prisoners of DHKP-C (Revolutionary People Salvation Party-Front), TKP(ML) (Turkish Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)) and TKYP (Turkish Communist Workers Party) - later joined by various other organisations - was coming closer to the edge of death, it began to find some echo outside. Meanwhile, the number of strikers reached over 9000 within the prisons, with the participation of prisoners from the PKK who changed their initial attitude for the purpose of supporting strikers.

The number of strikers who changed the hunger strike into a fast to the death was 282. The Association of Solidarity of the Families of the Prisoners (TAYAD), the intelligentsia from the associations of professionals (physicians, lawyers, engineers and architects) and from the circles of art and literature, university students manifested a wider participation in activities, demonstrations and solidarity strikes than before. Both in the suburbs and in the central parts of the cities there were mass demonstrations and marches even at night.

Once again, the public interest could be focused on this resistance only after the critical point where the hunger strikes changed into death fasts and the prisoners were on the edge of death. There is no doubt that the interest of the bourgeois media was focused on the possible cases of death.

The press and TV began giving news only after the 45th day of the death fasts. But the fact that the participation and support was growing day by day produced a growing interest in the media. There were many demonstrations and mass protests in the main cities every day. This interest of the press, together with the influence of continuing negotiations with the EU about full membership, and other questions relating to the balance of power between the army and the MIT (National Intelligence Organisation), and a brief period of retreat on the part of anti-EU hawks within the bourgeoisie, led to an unexpectedly moderate (by Turkish standards) attitude by the police towards these mass demonstrations.

Coming near to the 50th day, the efforts at mediation by a committee composed of intellectuals and members of the parliament's Commission of the Human Rights accelerated. The negotiations seemed to have focused on the abolition of the F-Type cells and some arrangements for bigger rooms and permission for the prisoners to share the common areas. The fact that the prisoners announced their willingness to accept a formulation based on wards of 18-20 persons, and the Justice Ministry began talking about the wards of 9-12 persons, gave the impression that they were close to an agreement.

The most important thing was that this atmosphere itself was evidence that the hunger strikes seemed to have achieved their goal. The problem of F-Type prisons was put firmly on the agenda of public opinion, and began to be debated, causing a reaction against them by a wide layer of the society. It began to be perceived as a system of which no-one except the fascists would dare to defend. In other words, the revolutionary prisoners had managed to attract the attention of public opinion and to deliver their demands, making use of the only weapon left in their hands - their lives.

Moreover, the Justice Minister declared the postponement of the F-Type prisons for an indefinite period of time, and also stated that it was not on the order of the day to implement the F-Types without first passing the necessary legislative regulation, without the subject being discussed widely in the public opinion and without considering the opinions and the contributions of the NGOs involved in the matter. This seemed to be a concrete indicator that agreement had been reached with the revolutionary prisoners.

Of course, it would have been naive to expect honesty from the government. But it was precisely the government which seemed to have retreated before the public opinion. It was a turning point. And the attitude of the revolutionaries is of fundamental importance in such turning points. At this point, when mass support had reached the maximum point that can be reached in the existing conditions of the country, the revolutionaries should have examined their tactics once more and carried out the necessary changes. But this they did not do.

The Process Turns into its Opposite

The negotiations between the revolutionary prisoners and the government ended around 54th day. The justice minister stated that a committee composed of representatives from the professional associations (lawyers, engineers, architects and physicians) and from Justice Ministry would work on the subject from all points of view, and if they found it unacceptable in terms of human rights then there could be other arrangements with regard to the room system. But the negotiations stopped when the prisoners demanded definite numbers, architectural projects and written guarantees. The wind had begun blowing in the opposite direction. There was a shift in the balance of forces within the capitalist class and the state in favour of the hawks. The rejection of the motion by "communists" in the EU Parliament demanding the condemnation of Turkey on this matter, and the statements from the EU backing the Turkish government on F-Type prisons, gave comfort to the government which then launched the counter-attack.

First, one night, three young boys who were trying to stick up posters in support the strikers were fired on by the police, leaving one dead and one seriously injured. The following night, a police service bus was fired on and two cops were killed. And one day after, on December 13, thousands of cops marched in an organised and threatening manner throughout the whole country trampling their bourgeois laws underfoot. They shouted the slogans like "Blood for blood!" and "Revenge!" They shook the guns, raising them in their hands, shouting: "When will we use them?" - as if they never used them! At the same day, the cops and accompanying fascists violently attacked the demonstrating masses in Ankara, abandoning the moderate attitude which they had been forced to maintain the last few days.

Once again hundreds of people, among them many women, children and old people, were beaten violently with truncheons, dragged and trampled underfoot in the streets. And the day after, on December 14 - the 56th day of the strikes - the State Security Court announced its resolution to censor all news relating to the prisons. The reason for the resolution was that such news was "serving outlawed organisations and inciting the people". The resolution stated that, the news of the death fasts and the protests "which are planned and implemented by the outlawed terror organisations, with the aim of destroying public order, and of giving the impression that the ruling power in the prisons is not in the hands of the state officials but in the hands of the militants - occupied an unnecessarily excessive space in the media." This move alone was actually a warning that the state would not limit itself to just a psychological counter-attack, but that a physical attack was about to begin.

The media, which seemed to be in favour a negotiated settlement up to that moment, began turning its back on the movement, backing the resolution of the State Security Court. The media, having been scolded, turned tail and began a campaign of counter-propaganda. Suddenly they discovered some video tapes showing the mass meetings and ceremonies of the revolutionaries in the wards and publishing disgusting photos. They began strongly alleging that the strikers had not participated in the action voluntarily but under the pressure of their organisations. Some fascist ministers said that the strikers were eating in secret. In the words of one officer, a psychological war was being waged.

The provocative police demonstrations became the main item in the news, which insisted that the cops were completely in the right. An artificial debate was launched and the law on the television and in the papers on how force-feeding should be considered from the point of view of "medical ethics". Physicians and jurists appeared on TV screens and the masses were gradually conditioned for an operation by means of these debates on "whether the state should intervene or not, and if yes, should it feed them by force or not?" The whole situation turned into its opposite in a week.


At about 4.30 am on December 19 - the 60th day - which is known medically as the critical point for possible deaths - the state forces burst into 20 prisons simultaneously all around Turkey, demolishing the walls of the prisons with bulldozers, throwing tear-gas bombs and causing fires. In twelve prisons the resistance was swiftly suppressed. The resistance in Bayrampasa Prison, in Istanbul, where the leaders were imprisoned, continued throughout the day. While the resistance in 18 prisons was suppressed by the evening by the use of frightful terror and violence, it continued several days in Canakkale Prison and Umranyye Prison. After four days, on December 23, the operation ended with the suppression of the resistance in Umranyye Prison.

Even days later it was very difficult to enter the prisons because of the quantity of accumulated gas. Some revolutionaries set fire to themselves in protest against this massacre, and some women revolutionaries were burned by the state forces, who set fire to the chemicals which they had poured on them. The name of the operation was "Back to Life" - reminding one of the techniques of the Nazi propaganda chief Goebbels and the ironies of the Orwell's 1984. The prisoners were allegedly being rescued from the death fasts, "which they had decided to carry out under the pressure of their organisations."

The official number of deaths, as of today, is 30, with hundreds of injured and six "missing". According to the autopsy reports on 13 prisoners who were among the first to be killed, five of them were found to have been killed by gunfire, another five of them had been burnt by chemical substances, two of them died of poisoning from gas and smoke. In spite of these official reports, the same state keeps saying "they burned themselves," proving its shamelessness.

We hear reports about new deaths from the hospitals almost every day and the number of victims keeps increasing. Although it is said that the death fasts have ceased, the number has actually increased to 395 as against 282 before the operation. The ordinary hunger strikes are also continuing their protest. The prisoners are still refusing treatment. Following the operation, the state forces started to transfer the revolutionary prisoners to F-Type prisons in different provinces, violating hypocritically all the previous statements.

There are still uncertainties about the transfers (who has been transferred, and where to?) The number of deaths is supposed to be higher. Also it is highly probable that some of the missing prisoners might have been killed. Despite all these questions, there is a deathly silence in the media which earlier talked so much about the death fasts, human rights, saving lives, and generally shedding crocodile tears. The protests and announcements are not mentioned in the news: the MGK (National Security Council) controlled media slavishly bow before their master.

The prisoners, who were already weak because of the hunger strikes, are systematically beaten both in transportation and after. Those who were transported to the F-Types are stripped stark naked, searched even in their rectums, raped by truncheons, then beaten severely once more, before being thrown into freezing cells in which the heating system does not work, dressed only in their underpants. In the roll-calls which are held twice in a day they are systematically beaten. The majority of the prisoners are not allowed to be seen by any visitors. The relatives of some prisoners who have had the chance to see the prisoners, say that there are fractures, wounds and signs of blows on their bodies, and the officials create difficulties in supplying the strikers with the necessary salt and water. And it is generally very hard to get reliable news.

Relations with the EU

There are two main factors that played an important part in these events, distinguishing two stages in the process: first, the process of negotiations with the EU, and its political reflections within Turkey in terms of both the bourgeoisie and the state apparatus. And the second, the obviously mistaken tactics of the petty-bourgeois revolutionary organisations in these events.

It is very obvious that, especially in the 1990s, there has been, and is, a big struggle within different sections of the bourgeoisie, between various bodies of the state (which is the political apparatus of the bourgeoisie), and between various wings within these bodies. This is related to the internal political developments in Turkey, in particular the Turkish application for full membership of the EU and the need to meet the EU's requirements. This struggle had focused on the attitude towards the Kurdish movement, until the capture of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK.

The hawks of the bourgeoisie, basing themselves on the strategy of Turkey being a decisive power in its region under the direction of the USA, were in favour of pushing aside the relations with the EU, and suppressing the Kurdish movement by extreme violence and state terror. This section of the bourgeoisie is the one which, especially after the military coup of September 12, 1980, could adapt themselves at least to the economic and political perspectives brought by Turgut Ozal aiming the complete integration of Turkey with the world market. However, it does not consider that Turkey would have the power to compete in a common market like the EU.

The apparently liberal wing, on the other hand, is made up of that section which, especially during the last twenty years, wished to fuse with foreign capital, undertaking joint investments, while staying relatively independent from the state, and did not rely on the war (against the Kurdish people) economy. This section has taken a stance in favour of the EU, rather than the USA.

There was an impression that the pro-EU liberal wing was dominant in the media - until the critical point was reached. Yet in reality the decisive factor behind the scene was the army. Turkey has still not succeeded in doing away with the Asiatic military traditions of the Ottoman Empire. Even bourgeois politics have to be carried out under the authorisation of the army. Although the General Staff of the army is apparently under the Defence Ministry's control, the National Security Council (MGK), in which the General Staff is dominant is, in effect, a body which stands above parliament and the government, capable of establishing and overthrowing governments, delivering ultimatums. Its so-called "advisory" resolutions are regarded as absolute orders. The army does not want to lose this position. It worries that full membership of the EU can undermine its power and therefore it plays the leading role in the anti-EU front.

The struggle between warring factions assumes Asiatic and Byzantine forms: disguised manoeuvres, frequent conspiracies, provocations, murders committed by unknown perpetrators, the leaking of doubtful secret documents, an incredible number of spying journalists, etc. Although the army does not take an openly hostile stance against the EU, it continually harps on its worries. One of the recent examples of this which was very striking was demonstrated during the Nice summit in which Prime Minister Ecevit was negotiating on the Accession Partnership Accord. The army chose this moment to announce its opposition to the Accord in a press statement. And for the first time this provoked a reaction from many journalists who are unquestionably the ideologues of the bourgeoisie. The fact that USA backed Turkey in the same period, and announced its opposition to the idea of implementing an independent European military formation remarks the same contradictory process.

The media generally demonstrated a somewhat different attitude to its usual position of absolute deafness - until the turning point in the development of the prison events. But this did not at all mean that the media became suddenly more human. The reason of both this brief period of interest in the media and the relatively moderate attitude of the police towards ever broader demonstrations (with respect to the prison problems) is the same. This is not the result of the actions of the revolutionaries, which are not stronger than similar actions in the past (for example, the wave of hunger strikes in 1996). What made the difference was the conjuncture through which Turkey is now passing.

At this conjuncture the uneasiness of the pro-EU section of the bourgeoisie has reached a critical point. The attacks of the anti-EU section, which is dominant politically and reflected in the army, were to strain relations with the EU. This had reached a critical point with the Accession Partnership Accord leading to an ever growing discontent. In this framework, the proposed changes imposed by the EU on democratisation and human rights lead to a serious conflict between the two main bourgeois cliques. The media is also involved in this conflict and plays an important role, which is expressed in a tendency to hypocritically exploit the winds of social opposition in some cases. That is the reason why the media behaved relatively differently in regard to the prison protest, before the turning point.

This short-lived vacillating attitude on such a weak bourgeois basis could, and did, quickly turn into just the opposite. And the EU's approval of F-Type prisons comforted the ruling class and removed the ground for differences between the different factions of the ruling class on this subject. It cleared the way for the operation headed by the army to suppress the revolutionary prisoners. Just as in the massacre committed by the army in Ulucanlar Prison in 1999, during the process of Turkey's acceptance as a candidate for EU membership, the army played the same role, with the aim of hindering this process. Thus, the state terror in suppressing the revolutionary opposition is not only violence directed against the revolutionaries; it is also a means of striking blows against the efforts to broaden the present limits of democracy.

The Most Basic Lesson

All this constitutes one side of the coin. On the other side, there is the attitude of the petty-bourgeois revolutionaries. First of all, it should be remembered that the leftist petty bourgeoisie suffers from the sickness of either disregarding completely the conflicts within the bourgeoisie, or else developing a liberal-democratic course, based on the hope that democracy will be handed to Turkey on a plate by the EU.

The majority of the petty-bourgeois radical wing has taken a number of superficial positions as their fundamental positions. Some examples of this are the characterisation of the state as permanently fascist and the reduction of basic components of the struggle to a vague category of "the people" in which all class lines are blurred. Despite its radical appearance, it does not possess a single atom of Marxist ideology. In their opinion, the "oligarchy" which is the master of the "fascist" state is a homogeneous section, within which there can be no conflicts. And if there seems to be any, it should be regarded merely as a fake conflict. The conflicts within the ruling class are not considered as factors to be taken into account.

This petty-bourgeois blindness disguised by a revolutionary phraseology is definitely harmful to the working class movement. Although they are good at boasting, there is no room in their mentality for reconsidering the situation, the tactics, the balances of forces, possible short or middle-term retreats, a careful examination of what is going on in the enemy front, etc. Time and time again at every stage of the struggle, they make the same mistakes, and the result is a defeat. They pretend not to see these defeats - another characteristic of the petty bourgeoisie - instead of accepting the reality of a defeat courageously. Those who speak of this are accused of being "deserters from the revolution" - in the best case.

As is always the case, good intentions pave the way to the hell. Without a real consciousness, every movement, especially petty-bourgeois revolutionary movements, however well-intended they are, cannot avoid ending up as an instrument of bourgeois politics in the last analysis. And this danger is even greater in a conjuncture where the working class movement is so weak. Therefore the bourgeoisie could suppress the movement without a great difficulty and moreover go further to reach its own targets. Things change into their opposites. And this life-and-death struggle over the closing of the F-Type prisons has in fact changed into its opposite. It has been made a means of implementing the new prisons immediately and without provoking any serious social reaction (even the ones that have not been completely built yet). This is the result of wrong tactics.

There is no need to develop theories of conspiracy to explain such obvious tactical mistakes of petty-bourgeois movements. Their petty-bourgeois nature inevitably opens the door to bourgeois manipulations, under the conditions when the working class is not active in the political arena with its own revolutionary organisation. The scenes of religious-like rituals in the wards shown in the televisions revealed the deep petty-bourgeois nature of these organisations, how they were keeping together their rank and file by appealing to backward elements, and on the other hand, how such scenes could be turned into a means of propaganda by the bourgeoisie in its own interests when the proletarian movement, which should actively intervene, is lacking.

Now in the publications of these organisations the reality will be ignored once more. Instead of drawing lessons from the defeat, the resistance will be called a victory, the revolutionaries whom we have lost will be hallowed as martyrs of the revolution in red pages, and once more there will be conflicts about whose martyrs are better than the others. Once more it will be announced that the "leaders" are infallible and oaths of victory will be sworn over the lost revolutionaries. And unfortunately, this petty-bourgeois propaganda once more will find an echo among the petty-bourgeois youth in the suburbs. Young, combative, and self-sacrificing people, supposing themselves to be communists but not knowing what communism is, will once more be led astray from the road of working class struggle and be drawn into the vicious circle of petty-bourgeois revolutionism.

Internationalist communists have never trusted the bourgeoisie and its governments. Nor have they expected any guarantees from them. Using every opportunity, they have always told the masses not to trust the bourgeoisie, and to trust only their own forces, organisation and struggle. We have no illusions in the bourgeoisie. But we have no illusions in the limitations of petty bourgeois revolutionism either. The bourgeoisie once more revealed its bloody face and murderous nature in these events. And, on the other hand, the petty-bourgeois organisations have once again revealed their incapacity.

The internationalist communists will neither mourn after the dead nor laud their deaths. Because communists do not enter into the struggle as vanguard heroes, messiahs, saviours of the working class, but as the foot soldiers of a permanent revolution which will find its conclusion in the classless society. They act and organise with this consciousness. The fight continues.

Only a genuine working class struggle can smash the bourgeois Bastilles!