Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front
|Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front|
|Founded||1978 (as Dev Sol) / 1994 (as DHKP/C)|
|Headquarters||Unknown (illegal party)|
|Politics of Turkey
The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front, (Turkish: Devrimci Halk Kurtuluş Partisi-Cephesi or DHKP/C) is a Marxist–Leninist party in Turkey. It was founded in 1978 as Revolutionary Left (Turkish: Devrimci Sol or Dev Sol), and was renamed in 1994 after factional infighting. They carried out a number of assassinations and suicide bombings, and are classified as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.
Devrimci Halk Kurtuluş Partisi-Cephesi or DHKP/C is theoretically two related entities - although the authorities consider them a single group. In all cases of "Parti-Cephe" (Party-Front) names, "Party" refers to the group’s political activities, while "Front" is a reference to a group’s military operations.
The group espouses a marxist-leninist-maoist ideology and holds an anti-U.S., anti-NATO position. It considers that the Turkish government is under the control of Western imperialism and seeks to destroy this control by violent and democratic means.
Links with Ergenekon
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The group's Istanbul commander, Asuman Akça, was arrested in 2008 on the grounds that she was planning to assassinate Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. She was tried, but the court failed to reach a verdict and since she had been held in custody for four years, she was released in 2012, pending another trial. Then Akça told the media that she would reveal links between DHKP/C and the Ergenekon organization. Shortly afterwards, she was shot in the head. Her would-be assassin, who has been described as a member of the PKK as well as the DHKP/C and MLKP, told police he had orders from DHKP/C to assassinate Akça because of her plans to reveal the group's links with Ergenekon. Other links with Ergenekon include the discovery in December 2010 of matching bomb-related serial numbers in operations against DHKP/C and against Ergenekon.
The organization was originally formed in 1978 by Dursun Karataş as Revolutionary Left (Turkish: Devrimci Sol or Dev Sol), a splinter faction of Devrimci Yol ("Revolutionary Way"), which splintered from the Turkish People's Liberation Party-Front (THKP-C), which in its turn was a splinter of Revolutionary Youth Federation (commonly known in Turkish as Dev Genç).
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Dev Sol has claimed responsibility for a number of assassinations, including Gün Sazak and Nihat Erim (1980). Since the late 1980s, the group has targeted primarily current and retired Turkish security and military officials.
It began a new campaign against foreign interests in 1990, which included attacks against U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and facilities.
To protest what it describes as American imperialism during the Gulf War, the DHKP/C assassinated two U.S. military personnel, wounded an Air Force officer and bombed more than 20 U.S. and NATO military, commercial and cultural facilities.
It is significant that the only American killed by terrorists during the First Gulf War was a victim of Dev Sol. U.S. Insurance Executive John Gandy was murdered in his Istanbul office in February 1991 by a well-trained Dev Sol hit team that gained access to the office building by wearing Turkish National Police (TNP) uniforms. After tying Gandy to a chair the Dev Sol operatives shot him multiple times in the head. The terrorists then wrote anti-US graffiti on the office walls with the victim's blood.
Although Dev Sol was under active investigation by the American, British, French, Austrian and Danish intelligence and security services, it posed a significant challenge for counter-terrorist agents because it was one of the few terrorist organizations (at that time) to employ professional operational and counterintelligence tradecraft. It used sophisticated surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques, it employed multi-layer assassination squads with surveillance, primary and secondary shooters, and it successfully exfiltrated its operatives back and forth between Western Europe and Turkey as needed. It skillfully employed professionally forged documents and disguise, and it has been claimed by opponents that it preyed on innocent Turks living in Europe, extorting money from them in exchange for "protection." However, the DHKP/C denies any involvement in extortion and it is not unknown for criminal gangs to use the name of the DHKP/C and other armed political groups as a cover for their activities without any authorization from or actual connection to those organizations.
On 13 August 1991, Andrew Blake, the head of British Commercial Union in Istanbul, was killed in a shooting. His killing was claimed by DHKP/C. However, the Turkish wing of Islamic Jihad also claimed the killing as their work. Dev Sol also claimed the assassinations of Hiram Abas (1990), Memduh Ünlütürk, İsmail Selen, Adnan Ersöz and Hulusi Sayın (1991) and Kemal Kayacan (1992) - all retired figures of Turkish military or intelligence.
In its next significant act as DHKP/C on 9 January 1996, it assassinated Özdemir Sabancı, a prominent Turkish businessman, and two others: an associate Haluk Görgün and a secretary Nilgün Hasefe. The murders were carried out by hired assassins who had been given access to the Sabanci Towers by a member, the student Fehriye Erdal, working there at that time. DHKP/C later claimed responsibility for the act.
Escalation (2001 to present)
DHKP/C added suicide bombings to its operations in 2001 with attacks against Turkish police in January and September of that year. On 10 September 2001, a suicide bomber killed himself and three other people in Istanbul, being the bloodiest attack perpetrated by the group.
Security operations in Turkey and elsewhere have weakened the group, however. DHKP-C did not conduct any major attacks in 2003, although a DHKP/C female suicide bomber Sengul Akkurt's explosive belt detonated by accident on 20 May 2003 in Ankara, in a restroom, while she was preparing for an action.
On 24 July 2004, another mistaken detonation, on a bus in Istanbul, occurred, killing Semiran Polat of DHKP-C and three more people and injuring 15 others.
In late February 2006, female member Fehriye Erdal was convicted in Belgium, while under house arrest. However, shortly before her conviction she escaped and still has not been found.
On 29 April 2009, Didem Akman of DHKP-C was wounded in her attempt to assassinate Hikmet Sami Türk at Bilkent University right before a lecture in Constitution Law. Akman and her accomplice S. Onur Yılmaz were caught.
On 11 September 2012, a suicide bomber, a DHKP/C militant, blew himself up at the Sultangazi district in Istanbul killing himself, a Turkish National and a Police Officer. The Turkish National Police identified the bomber as İbrahim Çuhadar, a member of DHKP/C.
On 1 February 2013, a suicide bomber, a DHKP/C militant, blew himself up at the US embassy in Ankara, killing a Turkish security guard and wounding several other people. Istanbul police identified the bomber as Ecevit Şanlı, a member of DHKP/C.
On 19 March 2013, DHKP/C militants conducted a double attack against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters and the Justice Ministry. Responsibility for the attacks was claimed by the DHKP/C.
In September 2013 two DHKP/C members attacked the headquarters of the General Directorate of Security with rockets. One of them, who was killed in the attack, had been involved in the 19 March attack on the AKP headquarters.
On 29 September 2013 DHKP/C sympathizers and members clash with drug gang in Maltepe where DHKP/C finds support from the local population. A young local resident, left-wing activist Hasan Ferit Gedik, was killed in clashes. Following the clashes, a group of armed DHKP/C members started to patrol the streets in Meltepe.
On 6 January 2015, a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a police station in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, killing one police officer and injuring another. DHKP-C claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was meant "to punish (the) murderers of Berkin Elvan" and "to call to account the fascist state that protects AKP's corrupt, stealing ministers". Berkin Elvan was a 15-year-old boy who was killed by a tear-gas canister fired by a police officer during the 2013 Istanbul protests. The group also claimed that the suicide bomber was Elif Sultan Kalsen. After being called to a criminal medical center to identify the body, Kalsen's family denied the claims, stating that it was not their daughter. On 8 January 2015, the perperator was identified as Diana Ramazova, a Chechen-Russian citizen from Dagestan. Turkish police are currently investigating Ramazova's possible links to al-Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Further investigation revealed that suspect had photos with insurgents from ISIS. The DHKP-C on 8 January removed the statement claiming responsibility from its website without giving any explanation. As of yet, it is not known why they took responsibility for the attack.
On 31 March 2015 suspected members of DHKP-C took prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz hostage on the sixth floor of the Istanbul Çağlayan Justice Palace. They demanded that the police announce the names of four members of the security services who they said were connected to the death of Berkin Elvan. The police negotiated with the gunmen for six hours, but eventually stormed the courthouse "because of gunshots heard from inside the prosecutor's office". The two gunmen died during the operation, while the prosecutor was badly wounded and later died of his injuries.
Designation as a terrorist organization
The organization is listed among the 12 active terrorist organizations in Turkey as of 2007 according to the Counter-Terrorism and Operations Department of Directorate General for Security (Turkish police).
It was added to the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in 1997. It also is included in 48 groups and entities to which European Union's Common Position 2001/931/CFSP on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism applies and 45 international terrorist organizations in the list of Proscribed Terrorist Groups of the UK Home Office.
Information provided by the Intelligence Resource Program of the Federation of American Scientists based on the 2003 Patterns of Global Terrorism report suggests that the organization has several dozen operatives within Turkey and a large support network in Europe.
A study carried out by the Counter-Terrorism and Operations Department of Directorate General for Security over a sample of files about people convicted of being a terrorist under Turkish laws including 826 militants from the organization and the three other currently active left-wing organizations (see reference 1) 65% of the members are aged 14 to 25, 16.8% 25 to 30 and 17.5% are older than 30. University graduates make up 20.4% of the members, high school graduates 33.5%, secondary school graduates 14%, primary school graduates 29.9% and illiterates 1,9% (while they have no sampled literate non-graduate members).
- Dursun Karataş
- Fehriye Erdal
- In December 2011, high-school teacher Meral Dönmez and university student Gülşah Işıklı held up pieces of cardboard out of the window of a lawyer's office with the text, "We do not want a rocket shield, but a democratic high school". For this, they were convicted in October 2012 to 6 years and 8 months imprisonment for "committing a crime on behalf of a terrorist organization [DHKP-C] without being a member."
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- DHKP-C ve torbacı savaşı
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