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28 February 1947|
Ayaş, Ankara Province, Turkey
|Died||6 May 1972
Deniz Gezmiş (28 February 1947 – 6 May 1972) was a Turkish Marxist-Leninist revolutionary, student leader, and political activist in Turkey in the late 1960s. He was one of the founding members of the People's Liberation Army of Turkey (THKO).
He was born to an inspector of primary education and syndicalist Cemil Gezmiş and a primary school teacher Mukaddes Gezmiş. He was educated in various Turkish cities. He spent most of his childhood in Sivas, where his father grew up. He graduated from high school in Istanbul where he first encountered left wing ideas. Gezmiş and companions are considered by some as "Turkey's Ché Guevara and compañeros".
After joining the Workers Party of Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye İşçi Partisi), he studied law at İstanbul University in 1966. In 1968, he founded the Revolutionary Jurists Organisation (Turkish: Devrimci Hukukçular Kuruluşu) and the Revolutionary Student Union (Turkish: Devrimci Öğrenci Birliği).
He became increasingly politically active, and led the student-organised occupation of İstanbul University on 12 June 1968. After the occupation was forcibly ended, he spearheaded protests against the arrival of the US 6th Fleet in Istanbul. Deniz Gezmiş was arrested for these actions on 30 July 1968, to be released on 20 October of the same year.
As he increased his involvement with the Worker's Party of Turkey, and began to advocate a National Democratic Revolution, his ideas started to circulate and inspire a growing revolutionary student base. On 28 November 1968, he was arrested again after protesting US ambassador Robert Komer's visit to Turkey, but was later released. On 16 March 1969 he was arrested again for participating in right-wing and left-wing armed conflicts and imprisoned until 3 April. Gezmiş was re-arrested after leading Istanbul University Law Faculty students on a protest of the reformation bill[clarification needed] on 31 May 1969. The university was temporarily closed, and Gezmiş was injured in the conflict. Although Gezmiş was under surveillance, he escaped from hospital and went to Palestine Liberation Organization camps in Jordan to receive guerrilla training.
During the 60s, Gezmiş crossed paths with the infamous American Soviet/Russian CIA mole Aldrich Ames. While scouting for information on Soviet intelligence, Ames recruited one of Gezmiş' roommates, who gave him information about the membership and activities of Devrimci Gençlik (DEV-GENÇ), a Marxist youth group.
Arrest and trial
On 11 January 1971, Deniz Gezmiş took part in the robbery of Emek branch of İş Bank/İş Bankasi(TR) in Ankara. On 4 March that year, he kidnapped four U.S. privates from TUSLOG/The United States Logistics Group headquartered in Balgat, Ankara. After releasing the hostages, he and Yusuf Aslan were captured alive between Gemerek-Yeniçubuk, Şarkışla and Sivas following an armed stand-off with law enforcement officers.
Their trial began on 16 July 1971, after the coup d'état of 12 March. Gezmiş was sentenced to death on 9 October for violating the Turkish Criminal Code's 146th article, which concerns attempts to "overthrow Constitutional order". According to legal procedure at that time, a death sentence had to be endorsed by Parliament before being sent to the President of the Republic for final assent. In March and April 1972 the sentence was placed before Parliament and in both readings the sentence was overwhelmingly approved. Some politicians such as İsmet İnönü and Bülent Ecevit opposed the sentence, but Süleyman Demirel voted in favor of it. He and his colleagues within the AP (Adalet Partisi - Justice Party) gave votes in favor of the executions, shouting, "Three from us, three from them!". - referring to the right-wing Democratic Party politicians (including former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes), who had been executed in 1961 after Yassıada Trials.
On 4 May, President Cevdet Sunay, after officially consulting the Minister of Justice and Prime Minister Nihat Erim, refused to grant Gezmiş a pardon. He was executed by hanging on 6 May 1972 in Ankara Central Prison along with Hüseyin İnan and Yusuf Aslan.
|“||Long live a fully independent Turkey. Long live the great ideology of Marxism-Leninism. Long live the Turkish and Kurdish peoples' fight for independence. Damned be imperialism. Long live the workers and the villagers.||”|
|— Last words of Deniz Gezmiş.|
- Those who were executed on 6 May 1972 requested to be buried alongside Taylan Özgür in Ankara, but their last wish was not granted.
- In 1980, former prime minister Nihat Erim was assassinated by Devrimci Sol to avenge Gezmiş's execution.
- In 1987, Süleyman Demirel, who had initially actively supported the executions, told a journalist who was interviewing him that the executions were "a mishap which occurred during the Cold War".
- While the executions of Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan, and Hüseyin İnan under the 1970 military junta dealt a blow to the morale of the Left in Turkey, in the long run, they established the three youths as symbols under which the Turkish Left would gather. The conflict between the Right and Left continued to escalate within the 1970s with the Cold War in the backdrop, and would ultimately lead to the 1980 military coup.
- Mullenbach, Mark J. "Middle East/North Africa/Persian Gulf Region". Third-Party Interventions in Intrastate Disputes Project. University of Central Arkansas. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
- Çandar, Cengiz (6 April 2008). "The 68 generation, Deniz Gezmiş, and us". Turkish Daily News. Retrieved 30 June 2008.
- Deniz Gezmiş'in babası öldü, Milliyet, 24 June 2000.
- Yayla, Atilla (1989). "Terrorism in Turkey" (PDF). SBF dergisi. Ankara University. 44 (3): 249–262. ISSN 0378-2921. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 October 2008.
- Suzal, Savas (2 March 1997). "Disislerinde CIA Köstebegi". Sabah. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
- "NBC Evening News for Wednesday, Mar 17, 1971". NBC Evening News. Vanderbilt Television News Archive. 17 March 1971. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
- "Demirel: Denizler'i milli irade astı". Ensonhaber. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
- Çelenk, Halit. İdam Gecesi Anıları, Tekin Yayınevi, 2002, 14. Basım, s. 86.
- "Deniz Gezmiş ve arkadaşları". Sabah. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- http://denizgezmis.org (in Turkish)