RIP Ali Kitapci: Turkish anarcho-syndicalist killed in Ankara massacre

RIP Ali Kitapci: Turkish anarcho-syndicalist killed in Ankara massacre

We remember Ali Kitapci, the first person to organise for the anarcho-syndicalist cause in modern Turkey. He was one of the 14 members of Independent Transportation Union killed in the Ankara bombing on Saturday.

He first got involved with the anarchist movement in England and continued to be active for the last 30 years. Apart from his fight for syndicalism, he was an active member of many anarchist organisations in Ankara from the second half of 1980s.

The Peace Meeting, organised by nationwide unions (DİSK, KESK, TMMOB and TTB) [Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey, Confederation of Public Employees' Trade Unions, Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects and Turkish Doctor’s Union] was cancelled due to a bomb attack. The meeting was planned to take place in Ankara on 10 October 2015 with nationwide attendance. The two successive blasts killed 128 people and injured more than 500 people. This horrific event, which resulted as the greatest number of human loss in a single incident in the history of Turkey, occurred just one day before the expected date of declaration of ceasefire by the PKK/KCK.

Anarcho syndicalist Ali Kitapci (1958-2015) was one of the 14 members of BTS-KESK [Independent Transportation Union] who were killed in the blast. He first get involved with the anarchist movement in England and continued to be active for the last 30 years. Apart from his fight for syndicalism, he was an active member of many anarchist organisations in Ankara since the second half of 1980s, and urged to unite anarchists for a common fight. He was the first person to organise for the anarcho-syndicalist cause in modern Turkey. He was an inspiration for many of his comrades from different ideas and generations.

In the memorial meeting held on 12 October by his union in the Ankara Train Station for the all union members who lost their lives, thousands gathered. Following this meeting, his body was buried in Karsiyaka Cemetery with the participation of his companion and comrade Emel, his son Artun Siyah and his anarchist comrades coming from different places of Turkey. Hundreds of anarchists who attended his funeral promised to continue his fight.

His companion and comrade Emel’s words at the funeral were also expression of the feelings of all other comrades

“Our heart is with him.
Our anger is fuelled by his strength.
We are all here.
We are all here.
It’s just his body which will stay here.
He will be with us forever.
He will be our light and illumination forever.”

Source: http://www.wsm.ie/c/turkey-ankara-funeral-anarchist-ali-kitapci (see the website for videos and photos)

Comments

nokta
Oct 14 2015 22:07
syndicalist
Oct 15 2015 04:35

We briefly corresponendec with Ali about 10 years ago. I need to locate the emails. I sorta recall it was about international unionsim. I got the impression that he was dedicated to working in his union. And he had no issues with being an elected officer
The correspondence was mellow in time and he seemed liked a pleasant enough comrade

Sorry his life (and the lives of others)?ended this way.

Edit: I located the emails from 2006. They were written by a Turkish comrade of Ali.
He told us about Ali's work, union engagement and asked us a few questions.

orange.ruffy
Oct 15 2015 00:52

Crying at my kitchen table reading this.

Rest in power, Ali.

Chilli Sauce
Oct 15 2015 03:13

Thanks for posting this Kurrem.

You went to the funeral?

akai
Oct 15 2015 04:28

lt was quite ironic that just the day before his death, l was talking about him at the Balkan Anarchist Conference. There are currently difficulties for people to travel from Turkey to Bulgaria and nobody from Turkey could come and we were talking about if there are anarchosyndicalists in Turkey, what kind they are, etc. l was describing my discussions regarding anarcho-syndicalism. Ali was actually for the boring within model and, yes, had no problem with being a union functionary. So, as you might imagine, we had different ideas. When the attack happened, comrades from Bulgaria stopped to inform the conference about it and the participants sent a letter to Turkey and expressed their outrage and solidarity. But l only found out that l knew one of the victims later on.

l have a lot of reflections on the discussions but obviously now is not a good time,

kurekmurek
Oct 15 2015 07:12

Yes I did, Chilli (see the last posts under "Turkey news")

batur_ozdinc
Oct 15 2015 09:56

hi all

akai, in fact ali was talking about Bulgaria many times. not this conference but he was planning to go to the ITF conference organized in Sofia last year. he was trying to urge us to go there together (and meet with anarchists living there). as far as I know he didn't go.

anyway- I've been meeting with him for almost 20 years. (not sure but I guess since may 1996). he was really "international" in the real sense. he was a ML before 1980 military coup (born in 1958), and afterwards he went to England (London) and stayed there for 4-5 years. In there he met with class-war anarchists and struggled with them. Later for a short while he went to Libya to work. However he was sent back to Turkey by his uncle (his "boss") who was the owner of the business in which he tried to organize the workers. (didn't know his full story about Libya, learned after his death)

Then (end of 1980s? probably) he settled in Ankara where his family lived, started to work in TCDD (state railways) as a bureau worker. Organized in BTS - for a while he was head of Ankara Local Branch of BTS. Also visited many countries, as far as I know he had been in Sweden and met with people from SAC (dont know exact time). Some 10 years ago he visited Paris (with his companion Emel) and met with CNT-F railway workers. etc. etc.

He (his trade union) was also affiliated to ITF. He served as international delegate for many years as it is mentioned in ITF's declaration about bombings: http://www.itfglobal.org/en/news-events/press-releases/2015/october/itf-statement-on-ankara-bombing/

I don't hesitate to "confess" it in here, his main idea to work wih ITF was that he was planning to find monetary support from ITF for future anarcho-union activities. For e.g. he had some ideas about organizing workers in harbors etc. etc. But this never happened as he expected.. mostly related with having quite less (anarchist) people around dealing with class struggle and union politics.

But his main "route" was anarchist struggle, he was active participant and one of the organizers of Karagün Kooperatifi, Ankara Anarsi Initiative etc. - almost all anarchist organizations in Ankara and Turkey.

at the moment we are planning to open a website for his memory and as I've heard a culture center/infoshop is planned to open in Ankara.

by the way, yesterday was his 11 year old son's birthday. we bought him a cake and made a small celebration. we -as his comrades- will not leave Emel and Artun Siyah alone. (his son's name is Artun Siyah, "Siyah" = Black)... also we just have a bank account for his family and initiated a solidarity campaign. (this campaign is not "public" yet, info is just shared among the comrades)

anyway, that's all for now.. I'll try to inform you later

nokta
Oct 19 2015 13:50

Thank you Batur for the information. Be sure to tell us if we can help with donations, I already sent you a PM regarding this.

Khawaga
Oct 19 2015 18:12

This is so sad, I got a lump in my throat from reading the obituary and the comments. RIP Ali.