Interview with Mayoral Candidates Fadıl Güçlü and Erkan Bayrak

Interview with Mayoral Candidates Fadıl Güçlü and Erkan Bayrak

Interview with Fadıl Güçlü: Joint Mayoral Candidate of the Left in Urfa - Eyyübiye

SEP member Fadıl Güçlü was nominated as a candidate for Eyyübiye mayor from the list of TİP, as part of the electoral cooperation of left-wing parties in Urfa. We talked to him about the reasons for his candidacy and his expectations from the election process.

Hello. Can you tell us about yourself?

I am Fadıl Güçlü, born and raised in these lands. I am currently actively working as an occupational safety specialist. The most important quality with which I can identify myself is to have a revolutionary view of life. Shouldering the struggle for the liberation of the working classes forms the basis of my outlook on life. At this point, with SEP, we strive to grow the socialist alternative in the entire Mesopotamian geography.

Of course, we are currently trying to develop an active organization for the expansion of the working class struggle. By organizing GİSP-DER (Southeast Occupational Health and Safety Professionals Association) around my own profession, we took an important step towards organizing occupational safety experts and improving their personal rights. We organized work stoppages in Urfa and Diyarbakır and achieved many gains.

In addition, we are making efforts to organize workers in the textile sector in Urfa, where exploitation is concentrated.

What would you like to say about your nomination? Can you tell us about your goals here?

In the case of Urfa, we thought it would be right to meet around common candidates as TİP, EMEP and SEP. Because both the problems faced by the Kurdish people and the class contradictions brought about by the newly developing working layers, as well as the struggles emerging here, as seen in the example of Özak Textile resistance, make the presence of the socialist left here important.

As SEP, this will be the point that makes our nomination process meaningful. Our aim is to contribute to the construction of a socialist alternative in Urfa and, starting from here, in the Kurdistan geography. We want to get in touch with the working people more, to explain ourselves better in the political atmosphere created by the election period and to show that they are not doomed to the alternatives imposed on us by the exploitative order.

What do you think about the Kurdish question?

As Kurdish people, we have been surrounded by blood and tears in this geography for decades. Our national and democratic demands have been ignored until today; even the simple use of our mother tongue is often met with oppression. It is the nature of things to resist where there is oppression and to struggle against national oppression.

The system we are living in makes the Kurdish question, which concerns four countries, unsolvable. I am of the opinion that the fate of the Kurdish people cannot be considered independent from the other oppressed peoples of the Middle East from this point on. Palestinians are being subjected to a genocide by the Zionist Israeli regime today; in Yemen, the Gulf regimes and their imperialist brothers are waging a bloody war against the Houthis while trying to force millions of Yemenis to starve. Lebanon is riven by ethnic and religious divisions that could erupt at any moment; corrupt regimes offer no alternative but pain and misery. Countries such as Syria and Iraq are still in the grip of imperialist rivalries and bloody internal conflicts. In short, in this context it will not be possible to talk about the liberation of the Kurdish people alone. Only a united working class movement can smash the current reactionary regimes and the imperialist status quo that repress the Kurds.

While we struggle for the fulfillment of our national democratic demands, we have to link this to the goal of the Socialist Middle East Federation, which will bring us definitive liberation. Otherwise, this river of blood will continue to engulf not only Kurds and Palestinians but the whole geography.




Interview with Labor Leader Erkan Bayrak: Candidate for Mayor of Sultangazi Municipality

Hello comrade Erkan. You became an independent candidate for mayor in the Sultangazi district of Istanbul under the slogan "Candidate of the Working People". How did this process develop, how was the candidacy campaign shaped, what do you aim for?

Sultangazi is a region that is the textile basin of Istanbul, but previously neither trade unions nor leftist forces claiming to be in favor of labor were interested in this region. But about five years ago things started to change. About four years ago, I met comrades who were members of the Socialist Laborers Party (SEP) in front of factories.

Then we started organizing together in parks and tea gardens. As our organization strengthened over time, we first established the Workers' Unity of Power Association in 2020. We strengthened our organizing efforts in Sultangazi and surrounding districts. We talked at length with our colleagues in workshops and factories about a workers' organization.

In this process, for example, at Tay Textile, we organized as a workplace committee against the boss's attack, and 42 workers won victory in a 5-day resistance. With these and similar struggles, we have seen how much the left forces in favor of labor are needed in Sultangazi, where conservative and right-wing parties are strong, and how open the future is for the left.

Then, we established our Tekstil Güç-Sen Union in Sultangazi in 2022. The positive feedback from the working masses, who saw that our struggle started to take stronger steps with the establishment of the union, accelerated.

But our association and union organization were mainly focused on economic struggle. But we also saw that in each of our struggles, the issue reached a political level. Since the state and political institutions were in the hands of capitalist forces, the economic sphere of action of our workers' association and trade union organization was limited.

For this reason, under the leadership of my party, SEP, we decided to take a step in the 2024 local elections, and this goal was accepted by workers' circles. During the election process, I became an Independent Mayoral Candidate for Sultangazi Municipality, in line with the decision taken in the meetings we held with workers who are members of the Workers' Unity of Power Association and Tekstil Güç-Sen.

After this political initiative, we saw that the interest of the workers in the region, which had never seen such a struggle before and was dominated by right-wing conservative parties, began to increase rapidly in our association and union organization. People from the region who had previously been a part of the class struggle but later despaired came to us with hope, and we started to raise a new generation of combative workers.

How do you carry out the election campaign? What were the responses you received in the first weeks of the campaign?

We coordinate our election activities through our workers' organization in the region. Although the working hours of the regional workers are very long, the workers who are our members and friends show their will and come to our association and union after tiring shifts and contribute to the work. We hold meetings with the workers and make decisions together. We are trying to carry out our election work through our workplace committees, as we have done so far. Meanwhile, our young revolutionary and socialist comrades also come to support us on the field especially during working hours.

On February 25th, my candidacy press statement in Sultangazi Square was very lively and enthusiastic, almost turning into a small rally. This positive response from the workers of the region convinced us once again that we are on the right path and that our struggle is justified.

AKP mayors have ruled Sultangazi since it became a district. They all said "we are coming to embrace the whole society". In fact, all they cared about was serving contractors and other rent-seeking capitalists. They condemned the workers, laborers and pensioners to misery and deprived them of the resources and opportunities of our district.

However, Sultangazi, like the whole society, is made up of two opposing classes, those who live off the sweat of their brow and those who exploit them. Words like "we are in the same boat" is nothing but bullshit. Our class is clear. That is why we plan our election work to directly contact the working people of our district. For example, we distribute leaflets at the working hours of factories and workshops.

The positive reactions we have received signal an ideological change in the region, almost a revolution in political thought. The people of Sultangazi really have a tendency towards the left in favor of labor, but until today they had neither an argument nor a political alternative standing by them...

In this respect, I can say that our campaign in the elections is a struggle to build a new alternative and to make Sultangazi a stronghold of the left and the working class.

What is in your election program? What kind of a Sultangazi do you aim for? Do you have a message from Sultangazi to the rest of Istanbul and the country?

The profit-oriented municipalism approach of the bourgeois order is not suitable for us.

First of all, we will govern Sultangazi with neighborhood and workplace committees and the People's Assembly. What does this mean? It means the participation of the working people of Sultangazi, workers, youth and women in politics and making them the subjects of political processes. We cannot call democracy what consists of casting a single vote in a ballot box every five years. We aim for the people to take an active role in all issues that concern them and to be constantly involved in politics. In the meantime, let us say that we will strive to put this organizational model into practice regardless of whether we win the elections or not.

We will mobilize the resources of the municipality and our district for the working people of the region; not for contractors, companies and holdings.

Municipal workers will have a say about their working conditions through their unions and workplace committees. We will provide our best support for the workers and laborers living and working in Sultangazi to organize themselves in the form of unions and workplace committees. We will also support union movements and workers' struggles in the rest of the country.

We will stand by the working people who suffer from polluted air and noise, not the mining companies of Cebeci and other regions, which are supported by the state treasury created with taxes collected from the poor people, polluting our environment and plundering nature. We can count many more things. But I can summarize that we will develop a way in which the working people will be the political subjects, no matter what the issue is.

We thank you and wish you success.

I thank you on behalf of the workers and laborers of Sultangazi.