A Massive Event by UID-DER in Commemoration of the Great Workers’ Resistance of 15-16 June 1970

In its 8th anniversary of founding, UID-DER held a mass event in commemoration of the great workers’ resistance on 15-16 June 1970. Thousands of working class people participated in the event held in Kartal Square, Istanbul, on 15 June evening. The participants were carried away with working-class songs and poems with fighting spirit. Among the participants were striking workers and workers from different unions and organisations. Many of the participants arrived by buses organised by UID-DER from different working class neighbourhoods of Istanbul.

The event started at 19:00 with a minute of silence in commemoration of miners who recently lost their lives in the coal mine in Soma, of those workers who lost their lives on 15-16 June 1970 and of all our class brothers/sisters we lost in the struggle for a world without classes and exploitation. Over 300 miners had been killed owing to the biggest mine “accident” so far in Turkey. The audience vowed in anger to make those who are responsible pay for that mass murder.

The main theme of the event was a massive workers’ movement in 1970, which is generally called as the Great Workers’ Resistance of 15-16 June. UID-DER attaches itself to this line of working class struggle, owns this experience down to the core, and considers itself the genuine inheritor of this legacy. It was not a happy coincidence but a conscious choice that UID-DER’s founding event in 2006 was on 15June and the main theme of the founding event was also the Great Workers’ Resistance of 15-16 June.

That mass movement of workers was the biggest movement of workers in Turkey’s history involving more than a hundred thousand workers. In and around Istanbul workers revolted against a government legislative attempt at closing DISK (Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions) which used to be the powerhouse of the rising working class struggle. The streets of Istanbul and Izmit, which are the cradle of the modern Turkish working class, were shaken by the power of the demonstrations during these two days. The bosses either hid themselves in their homes or immediately left Istanbul. The police and army attacked workers with guns, resulting in 3 deaths and over 200 injured. Martial law was declared, prohibiting the masses from leaving their homes, implementing a virtual curfew!

In the course of the programme the presenters on the stage told the story of 15-16 June in a succinct way together with songs, poems, video clips, pictures and so on. The songs were performed by UID-DER music band formed of workers.

There have been many songs and poems with a fighting spirit telling the problems and struggles of the working class. Most of the songs were accompanied by video clips and images shown in a big screen. Through these means the legacy of 15-16 June has been brought to the reach of new generations of workers. As most of the young workers are not aware of this important episode of class struggle in Turkey, it was very striking for them to learn this experience. But the way 15-16 June is presented was also effective. Through fighting songs and poems, visual material workers felt themselves part of the struggle. The slogans chanted by participants echoed in Kartal Square, which is a working class area. So enthusiastic was the atmosphere in the square that hundreds of people formed huge circles of Halay, which symbolised the great fraternity of workers. The songs were both in Turkish and Kurdish.

Another point of emphasis was the need to get organised and fight for the independent class interests of the working class. And workers were invited to take part in UID-DER activities.

This outdoor mass meeting was a new experience and step forward for UID-DER. Hundreds of participants expressed their positive feelings about the event and UID-DER and many of them asked for more information about UID-DER activities.

The concluding message before the start of the final part which was composed of songs of folk dances for the audience to join the circles of dance was a call for getting organised and fight for a better world: “We are sons and daughters of the class that created the Great Workers’ Resistance of 15-16 June. We will overcome the bans on trade-union rights, right to strike, outsourcing, and repressive, restrictive practices of the governments of capital such as the AKP. We want another world. A world in which there is no exploitation, no human bondage. A world based on sharing, fraternity. Brothers/sisters UID-DER calls on all workers to get organised and fight for such a world. Long live the great workers’ resistance of 15-16 June! Long live the working class’ international unity of struggle!”

16 June 2014