8th Congress of EMEP: United struggle against the one-man regime

Labour Party (EMEP) held its 8th Congress in Ankara with the slogan of ‘Let’s unite for peace and democracy against the one-man, one-party administration.’

During the Congress, a call was made for a united struggle against the one-man, one-party state that the AKP/Erdoğan administration is trying to establish. Selma Gürkan, the chairperson of EMEP, stressed that the struggle of workers and democratic forces against the State of Emergency (OHAL) must be unified and spread. The Congress also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution and actuality of socialism.

Labour Youth, marching to the Conference venue, entered the Congress hall with slogans of “work, bread, freedom”, “the dictator will be defeated, the working class will win” as well as the slogan “long live solidarity of nations” in Kurdish.
Many political party and trade union representatives, intellectuals, authors, academicians and militant workers took part in the Congress. Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and former co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ of HDP both sent messages from their prison cells. A message from CIPOML was also shared with the Congress.


Selma Gürkan walked up to the podium to the chants of “work, bread, freedom”, to deliver her opening speech to the Congress. She started by “greeting the Congress with the determination to fight the darkness of the AKP regime and revolutionary joy on the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution”. She stated that in a period of increased unpredictability and rising racism, hunger and poverty for the working class and peoples are manifestations of the policies of the White House, Kremlin and Ak Palace; she also recalled that in the last three years we witnessed increasing fighting among imperialist powers, especially in the Middle East. She said that negotiations on post-ISIS design of the region are dirty deals that soak the earth with blood and that these governments and their policies are responsible for the fighting and bloodshed; “These countries are responsible for millions of refugees on the march. Regional desires of Erdoğan’s AKP are also responsible. They became an accessory to this bloody politics of sharing, in the name of taking Assad down, becoming a force in the region and trying to grind down the gains of the Kurdish people.” Pointing to them as sacred that took place all over Turkey, Gürkan said “they are responsible for the hundreds of lives we lost in the Ankara railway station massacre, Suruç, Diyarbakır, Antep and Istanbul massacres. We respectfully remember those all we have lost, and especially the 102 that lost their lives in the Ankara massacre.” Reminding all that the AKP government allowed these massacre to ensure continuity of its own politics, Gürkan said that documents unearthed during the 10 October case exposed how they paved the way for these massacres.

Stating that the AKP regional policies go hand in hand with policies of imperialist countries, she continued to say that Erdoğan’s “the world is bigger than five” is empty rhetoric, that AKP cannot be anti-imperialist just through anti-American rhetoric, that it would mean withdrawal from imperialist agreements in the region and withdrawal from criminal organisations such as NATO. Gürkan reiterated that the government has no such intention and continued to say “Anti-imperialism means resisting policies of imperialist countries and defending peace and solidarity among the peoples of the region. The only guarantee of peace and democracy in our country and the region is the solidarity and united struggle of the peoples of the region.”


Remembering the fighting and deaths in the Kurdish cities; the body if Taybet Ana that stayed on the street for 7 days; and the body of Cemile, stored in a fridge for days; Gürkan said: “Our nasal passages are still filled with the smoke of those basements.” Gürkan said that AKP does not refrain from providing abundant resources to the appointed administrators that replaced elected mayors rather than giving it to the people of the region; and that the resolution of the Kurdish issue on the basis of equal rights is vital in the struggle for democracy in the face of warmongering, conflicting and monistic policies of the government.


Gürkan went on to say that, with the mid-term plan, this year’s budget is clearly one of war; the Presidential budget is increased without limit and the defence industry takes up a significant proportion of the budget. Highlighting President Erdoğan’s statements that Muslim countries are making western arms dealers rich, she asked: “Who signed the deal for S-400 rockets?”
She drew attention to the fact that many workers are in debt and that suicides due to unemployment are on the rise. Touching on the increased use of antidepressants – according to recent studies – Gürkan said that “the AKP government pushes people to suicide with its politics that push people to unemployment, poverty and poor health.”


“They want to change the social fabric to build the reactionary, one-party system.” A component of this is policies against women. Women face the consequences of AKP policies in every sphere of life. Following debates on abortion, forcing of women to give birth is a great risk to women’s health; two/three women die every day as a result of this policy. The authority to mediate given to muftis on weddings and divorces will be the basis of the reactionary social structure. Women’s experiences and accumulation of struggles indicate that they will not surrender.”
Gürkan stressed that dreams of 2023 will not generate the kind of hope the youth need to solve their problems and that they will defend their future. Saying that the AKP government wants to push society towards politics of polarisation, she said “In our society, those uniting around CHP are creating their politics by identifying as the left. The youth need to be vigilant. The youth will unite its struggle with current problems and uncertainty regarding the future to respond to government attacks.”


Gürkan drew attention to the campaign against OHAL, started by unions and professional associations struggling against OHAL and Decrees of Law (KHKs) and said: “These campaigns need to become much wider, uniting around a common struggle.” Touching on the present obstacles on the path to fascism: Gürkan mentioned the refusal of glass and metal workers to recognise bans on strikes; Havva Ana, with her walking stick, fighting against pillaging of nature, and the struggle of the Kurdish people, demanding peace in the face of violence and oppression. Another obstacle identified was the struggle of the Alevis demanding freedom of belief and secularism despite pressure. Gürkan also pointed to the youth, turning their backs on the executive in the face of reactionary policies as a new obstacle facing the regime.


Reminding her audience that the people said NO to fascism and the one-party rule on 16 April, Gürkan continued to say “the only way to win against AKP reaction, oppression and violence is to unite around the struggle for democracy and common demands.” Talking about the important role of parties and the society on this matter she said “we don’t have the luxury to act in a sectarian way, solely in the interest of our own parties. We won in Tekel, in metal, in Şişecam and on 7 June against the oppressive exploitative policies of the Palace with the outpouring of volition of workers’, peace and democratic forces and their power in the struggle. We can win again. ”


International Conference of the Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations (CIPOML) greeted the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the October Revolution, which took place following the 8th Congress of EMEP with a message. The statement read “100 years ago, with the October Revolution of 1917, the working class came to power and organised as the ruling class, for the first time after the Paris Commune.” In clarifying their remark that “October Revolution is current” is not said to satisfy or deceive themselves the statement continued; “On the contrary; we are talking about a self-imposition of a historical path and method, determined both by the nature and social resolution of concrete and irreconcilable conflicts of the capitalist world of our day.” The statement also mentioned that parties and organisations that constitute CIPOML, are aware that they cannot adequately carry out their duties without taking root among the working class, actively taking a leading role in developing its own movement and struggle; and connecting workers and labourers’ own experiences of struggle with historical accumulation of the international working class. It was said that at a time where the world is moving towards harsher struggles, the importance of activities carried out with an international spirit increase: “We are realistic and see that the working class, its parties and revolutionary forces face big crisis; hardships to be overcome in terms of ability, capacity and opportunities; and tough conditions of struggle to come. However, communists are equipped with a distinct feeling of responsibility and consciousness towards history. Temporary defeats, hardships and inadequacies cannot intimidate them.”