Oct 06 2015


We have  been covering the detention of Steve Kaczynski in Turkey since he was arrested on April 1st. We have been part of the campaign to get his release (republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/08/07/free-steve-kaczynski/). Steve was freed  on September 18th. This article has been written by Steve and describes his experience and the current political situation in Turkey.



Steve Kaczynski (second from left) arriving back at Heathrow Airport

Steve Kaczynski (second from left) arriving back at Heathrow Airport

I was in Istanbul, Turkey to help prepare an international symposium against imperialism due to take place in the middle of April. At the end of February I had travelled to Beirut, Lebanon where a similar symposium had been held.

On March 31 two DHKP-C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front) fighters got inside the Istanbul/Caglayan “Palace of Justice” (reputedly the largest court building in Europe) and took a prosecutor hostage. The police laid siege and that evening the two DHKP-C fighters and the prosecutor were killed.

On April 1 I moved from another location and went to the Idil Culture Centre in Okmeydani. Early the next morning armed police raided it and I and four other people present in the building were detained. We were kicked around (at one point a policeman was standing on my head) and handcuffed, then hauled away to the Vatan (Fatherland) Security Department. Other people arrested at other locations at the same time were also there. There was a certain amount of verbal abuse.

Although the police had confiscated my UK passport, they at first seemed to think I was German, probably because I was overheard speaking in German to another detainee who, though Turkish, had been born in Germany. Police demanded that people remove their shoes. I noticed others resisting this and so I did the same. I was hurled to the ground and my shoes forcibly removed. Later people were taken to have their fingerprints taken. They resisted, so I did too and was again roughed up, held down and my fingerprints taken forcibly. Prior to this we were taken to hospital to give the impression we had not been tortured, but like so many things in Turkey this is just for show. I mentioned to the doctor I had been beaten up and indeed had some bruising on the side of my head, but he was not interested.

Although I had no access to the media I was able to talk to a lawyer who said that the media, especially the more pro-government parts of it, were going to town about the “British/German/Polish agent”. They were undoubtedly being fed stuff by the police. One daily newspaper, “Akit”, entranced by my Polish name, was claiming I was Jewish (anti-Semitism and related conspiracy theories are popular in Turkey) and it was also being claimed in some sections of the media that I had travelled from abroad to give the “order” for the Caglayan hostage situation.

On April 4 we were brought to court in Caglayan. Most of us were released but after being grilled by a prosecutor who seemed mainly interested in how often I had visited Turkey, I was brought before a judge and an imprisonment order was issued – I was charged with membership of the DHKP-C. I was told I would be held in prison until I appeared before a court but it was not yet known when that hearing would take place.  Plain-clothes police took me to Maltepe L-3 prison on the Asian side of Istanbul, where I was to spend nearly five months.

This prison specialises in holding foreigners. A high proportion were Syrians (a by-product of the war and refugee crisis in that country) but after the first few days in a “quarantine dormitory” I had little contact with other prisoners as I was moved to an isolation block of five cells. At the time of my arrival there was just one other prisoner on the block, an Iranian Kurd named Hossein, arrested in Semdinli near Turkey’s border with Iraq in 2012 and charged with being a guerrilla of the HPG (Hezen Parastina Gel, “People’s Defence Forces”, the armed wing of the PKK). We became friendly but association was limited – the five cells were on the ground floor and shared a common exercise area, but you had to ring a bell and guards would let you into the exercise area for an hour. In my first month or two it was one hour, later it was one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. Only one prisoner could be in the exercise area at any time, though it was possible to go up to the windows of other prisoners and chat.

In May a Georgian prisoner (non-political) was added to the block. In the first month or so I was thoroughly cut off from the outside world, other than a visit from a lawyer on April 9, but in the middle of May I began receiving letters. Books and magazines started to be sent by well-wishers, but as early as May 20 the prison administration announced to me by letter that a book sent to me was not to be given to me because it was deemed harmful, and this began to be applied to other books and magazines, although I was told I had a right to appeal against these decisions.

By the latter part of June, I was becoming severely annoyed with these petty restrictions and my continued imprisonment in isolation conditions, and on June 25 I began a hunger strike in protest. I specifically cited the withholding of books and magazines as the reason for the hunger strike. I accepted lemons to make lemon juice with, and on the advice of my lawyers and the prison doctor I also took vitamin B pills. These are common practices in prison hunger strikes in Turkey, some of which have been very prolonged indeed, and the vitamin B protects against damage to brain functions. Also I was hopeful of being released within a few months or before the end of the year at the latest and so did not conceive of my hunger strike as a fight to the death but as a protest, and this also influenced me to accept some vitamin intake.

Prison guards continued to offer food and especially on Wednesdays I would be brought before the prison governor and a few flunkies and harangued, “Why are you on hunger strike? Think of your health! Your family will be worried about you” etc. At other times I would be told that hunger striking was a disciplinary offence and was I aware that “the terror organisation DHKP-C” was using my hunger strike for propaganda purposes? I said I did not know and I was largely cut off from news of the outside world anyway. Basically this was a kind of psychological torture. I learned from my lawyers that on a number of occasions people held sit-down protests outside the British consulate in Istanbul. They would typically be attacked by the police and detained.

My brother Brian tried to visit in early July but there was some kind of bureaucratic hurdle and he was not allowed to see me. Later on that month he was able to. In the course of my imprisonment an official of the British consulate visited on three occasions. He was helpful in the early weeks in making contact with my family but I wouldn’t say he or the consulate made extraordinary efforts on my behalf. He told me they could not interfere in a foreign country’s legal processes, but I suspect that if I had been jailed by a state that was not a NATO member and Western ally such inhibitions might have been less strongly felt. I also wonder whether the “terrorist” label was a factor in making them keep their distance.

On July 9 Hossein was moved to a dormitory. The guards had noticed we were quite friendly and that was probably why they moved him. Towards the end of July, after the Suruc massacre on the border with Syria, they moved the alleged head of the Islamic State in the Istanbul area into the neighbouring cell. I spoke to him and found it gave me quite an insight into the jihadi mind. He came from Daghestan in the eastern Caucasus and could only speak Russian. Presumably the prison authorities viewed us both as “foreign terrorists” and for this reason put us in neighbouring cells, although the ideological gulf between us was vast.

After a vague hint that my conditions would be improved, I paused my hunger strike on August 10, but then the prison authorities started withholding letters as well as books and magazines so I resumed the strike on August 17. A few days later I was brought in for the usual harangue about my hunger strike but received one piece of welcome news – the indictment against me was about to be issued. This was welcome, because in Turkey you generally make a first court appearance a few weeks to a month after the indictment is issued, and my lawyers were reasonably confident I would be released and probably deported after the court appearance. So potentially the end of my imprisonment was in sight.

On the morning of August 25 I was suddenly told to collect my things and was moved from Maltepe to Silivri Closed Prison. A guard said “Silivri is much better suited to you” – so it seems Maltepe had found me too much to handle. Although Silivri is still in Istanbul the journey took over three hours – Greater Istanbul is about the same size as the Scottish Central Belt, though with a much bigger population, and the roads and traffic conditions are worse. A young man charged with PKK membership was put in the vehicle after it stopped at another prison. He was quite ill, vomiting several times during the journey.

In Silivri I was held for a few days alone in a temporary dormitory, then I was put in an isolation cell that was larger than the Maltepe one and which had a small exercise area but which was more completely cut off from other prisoners than the one there had been. I was still on hunger strike as conditions seemed if anything worse than Maltepe. On August 28 a lawyer visited me and said the indictment had been issued and my court appearance would be on Friday September 18. A little later I was handed the indictment by a prison guard. On September 1 another of my lawyers, Sukriye, came and there was a kind of three-way negotiation between me, her and the prison governor. As a result I ended my hunger strike that evening and the following day I was moved to a three-person cell, with the other two prisoners being Muharrem Cengiz of Grup Yorum and Ahmet Atilgan of the Youth Federation. So for the first time in my imprisonment I was no longer in severe isolation conditions.

We were also able to receive, among others, the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper Ozgur Gundem. During this time there was a pogrom against pro-Kurdish institutions in Turkey. In my last weeks in Maltepe I was able to buy a television and was able to take it to Silivri, so with that and the newspapers I found it much easier to follow the news. Although still a prison and not without repressive aspects, I found the shared cell in Silivri to be a holiday camp compared to Maltepe. But I only experienced it for 16 days because on the 18th I went on trial. One of my fellow defendants, Asaf, was in the same vehicle taking us to court – he was held in another prison at Silivri. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis but had not been released. In the Caglayan court building we waited for a few hours and then were taken upstairs.

The indictment had mentioned me and about 20 other people and most of us were there. The great majority had been out of prison – only myself, Asaf and another young man named Veysel were brought from prison to court. I read out a statement denouncing my arrest and imprisonment and saying that despite everything I would continue my commitment to socialism and internationalism. At the end of the session everyone was released, though not acquitted. (Outright acquittal is rare in Turkey – court cases can go on for years.)

Asaf and Veysel were freed, I was taken back to prison, said goodbye to my cell-mates and then was taken to the security department’s foreigners’ block by plain-clothes police. The foreigners’ block was grossly overcrowded – there were nearly 200 Syrians, Nigerians, Iranians and other nationalities on one office block floor, and the conditions were not far from being like a concentration camp. It reflected the refugee crisis gripping Turkey and indeed European countries.

The police who collected me had not taken my passport with them – it was still held at Silivri Prison and it took a lot of work by Sukriye and my brother to prise it out of them. Finally they were able to and I travelled to London with my brother on Monday September 21. At Heathrow British plain-clothes police came on board and we were questioned under the Terrorism Act 2000 – my brother for about 40 minutes while I was questioned for about two and a half hours. Finally I was released and met by friends at the Arrivals section.

My experiences were typical for the rather broad swathe of society in Turkey who are left-wing/pro-Kurdish and so considered “terrorist” by the state. The only remarkable aspect of my case is that I am not from Turkey – hence the “agent” smears. Inevitably international solidarity can entail risks, especially in an unstable environment, and during 2015 Turkey has become considerably more unstable.






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Oct 03 2015


This article by Allan Armstrong (RCN) was posted on this blog on 9.6.12, after being updated from an earlier version originally posted on 30.9.11. That article has become contaminated and so is being reposted. Although the most recent section has been superseded by the Scottish Independence Referendum, it still includes a lot of relevant historical material.

For links to more recent material see:- http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/01/21/the-rcn-and-the-campaign-for-scottish-self-determination/




i)      Why are there significant nationalist parties and a National Question in the UK in the twenty-first century?

          a)   England

          b)   Wales

          c)   Scotland

          d)   Ireland

ii)       The creation of a united British ruling class and its decision not to create a united British nation-state

 iii)     The creation and expansion of hybrid British national identities amongst the different classes in these islands and the Empire

 iv)      The appearance of independent national political organisations within the UK

 v)       The retreat of hybrid British identities in Ireland in the face of new challenges and their maintenance in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as long as British imperialism remained relatively strong

 vi)       British ruling class attempts to maintain its power through reform of the UK in the face of the imperial decline and the further retreat of hybrid British identities, especially amongst the working class

 vii)      The initial failure of liberal unionist political devolution and the entrenchment of Westminster Direct Rule by 1979

 viii)     A failed liberal unitary Britain attempt to reform politics in Northern Ireland

 ix)       The Irish Hunger Strike (1981) and the Miners Strike (1984-5) – a comparison between their long-term political impacts

 x)        The British ruling class’s ‘New Unionist’ strategy starts and stalls under the Conservatives – differing situations in Ireland and Scotland

 xi)       Welsh workers slowly learn the need to confront conservative unionist divide-and-rule tactics

 xii)      New Labour fleshes out ‘New Unionism’ with its ‘Devolution-all-round’ proposals

 xiii)     The contrasting political nature of the effects of ‘New Unionism’ in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

 xiv)     The British ruling class is determined to hold the line on ‘Devolution-all-round’ to maintain its imperial position in the world

 xv)      Obstacles to any SNP attempt to winning political independence in its proposed referendum

 xvi)     The wannabe Scottish ruling class and the SNP will cooperate with the British ruling class and big business to prevent any radical break-up of the UK

 xvii)    The SNP will play their part in upholding the hegemony of US/UK imperial alliance in the global corporate order


i) Why are there significant nationalist parties and a National Question in the UK in the twenty-first century?

In Scotland, the SNP is now the leading political party; in Wales, Plaid Cymru is the third (until recently, the second) placed party; whilst in Northern Ireland the top six parties identify themselves as either British unionist or Irish nationalist.  The answer to the question posed in the title of this section is to do with the nature of the UK state.


Sep 22 2015




In response to the current refugee storm a Palestinian activist remarked that, if pictures of dead children changed anything, Palestine would long have been free.

The bitterness is understandable. However it would be wrong to write off the response to the refugee crisis as light-headed liberalism. Rather it is better understood as the potential to, as Marx said, transform from quantity to quality and become a broad opposition to the crimes of imperialism.

The capitalist powers have been exhibiting an increasing barbarism. Mass penury is imposed on their own populations. The wars they direct and provoke grow increasingly bloody. As refugees flee devastation they slander and criminalise them, applying a policy called “pushing the rope” – making conditions at holding centres so hellish that new refugees will not come. It is bare months since they withdrew rescue services from the central area of the Mediterranean, leaving thousands to drown. They constantly refer to migrants, because refugees are meant to be offered refuge and dismiss “economic migrants,”  as if fleeing starvation was bad and only war can be advanced as a legitimate reason for flight.

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Sep 21 2015


It is the centenary of the publication of the Zimmerwald Manifesto. This was produced by social democratic delegates from  countries drawn into the imperialist First World War. Chris Ford of the Ukrainian Solidarity Campaign provides an introduction to this important document. He shows the relevance of the Zimmerwald Manifesto to the situation we face today, particularly Ukraine. 




One hundred years ago an International Socialist Conference of those opposed to the First World War gathered in Zimmerwald, near Bern Switzerland from 5 to 8 September 1915. At a time when the international socialist movement had shattered with many supporting the war  the conference at Zimmerwald by those who emained faithfull to the principles of the socialist international offered a beacon of hope in a Europe gripped by war and reaction.  The International socialist conference began a movement around the Manifesto which it produced.

The Manifesto and the Zimmerwald movement are relevant to the war that takes places in Europe today – in Ukraine.   In 1914 Ukraine was divided between Russia and Austro-Hungary.  In the summer of 1914, the Russian, German and Austro-Hungarian imperial powers plunged their countries into a war that engulfed Europe in one of the bloodiest conflicts in history.  The war in the Eastern Front saw over three million killed and more than nine million wounded in a conflict that has had a profound impact to this day.

Ukrainians, the largest oppressed nation in Europe, found themselves facing each other across the battlefield.  The Ukrainians of Galicia, Bukovyna and Transcarpathia fought on the side of the Central Powers, whilst three million were conscripted into the army of the Russian Empire, as well as Ukrainian immigrants to North America who fought also on the side of the Entente.


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Sep 13 2015



September 17th-18th

The Renfield Centre, 260, Bath Street, Glasgow,  G2 4HZ

Last September the Sociology Department at Glasgow University held a successful conference on ‘Racism: from the Labour Movement to the Far Right’. We are pleased to announce that we are holding a second conference next month, with a slightly broader remit this time. The aim of our event is to provide a platform for academics, different kinds of activists (political, community, trade union), and for people simply in their capacity as citizens to debate and discuss the meaning of ‘Class and Nation in Contemporary Scotland’ following last year’s independence referendum. We are hosting a key note lecture on Thursday 17 September, followed by a one-day conference on Friday 18 September. We have attached a programme for the conference which details the panels and speakers confirmed.

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Sep 13 2015


Category: UncategorizedRCN @ 5:42 pm

Two people, Russell Caplan and Steve Freeman, from the Socialist Republican Alliance in London attended the Launch of RISE. Along with  Penny Cole of A World to Win they handed out the following leaflet from Steve Freeman who stood as a republican socialist and anti-unionist candidate in Bermondsey and Old Southwark  during the May General Election.

In addition, Emancipation & Liberation published the article, The Royal Lion,the English Bear and the Scottish Fox, in the  special issue of our magazine made for the RISE Launch.


  1. Open Letter from the Republican Socialists and Anti-Unionists in England


Another England is Possible

Dear comrades,

In September 2014 Scottish referendum, Republican Socialists in London organised a “London Says Yes” rally in support of the Radical Independence Campaign call for a Yes vote. We had platform speakers from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and contributions from a range of political organisations.


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Sep 13 2015


The RCN produces a special issue of Emancipation & Liberation (no. 24) for the launch of RISE – Scotland’s Left alliance on Saturday, August 29th in Glasgow. Below are the first three articles which were specially written for this issue.



Starting a new political organisation, aimed at uniting the Left, is always a difficult process. Furthermore, the Scottish Left has still to fully recover from the last attempt to do this – the Scottish Socialist Party. The SSP imploded in 2004, just a year after registering real promise with the election of 6 MSPs – 4 women and 2 men – in 2003.
Continue reading “EMANCIPATION & LIBERATION no. 24”

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Sep 13 2015





The decision on 25th August by a military court in Russia to sentence the Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov to 20 years in prison and socialist and anti-fascist activist Oleksandr Kolchenko to 10 years has sparked an international outcry. They are to be held in a high-security penal colony, Sentsov has been denied the right to even see his children.

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Sep 06 2015




A weekend of political thought and discussion

Friday to Sunday

11-13 September 2015

The Ireland Institute

27 Pearse Street

Continue reading “TWENTY-SEVENTH DESMOND GREAVES ANNUAL SCHOOL, 11-13th September, 2015”

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Sep 04 2015


The world has been alerted to the horror of the current refugee crisis by the photograph of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year old Syrian Kurd from Kohane, on the beach at Bodrum in Turkey, drowned after trying to make it with is family across to the Greek islands. In 1972, another photo of a young girl, this time from Vietnam suffering from napalm burns inflicted after a US airstrike, caused similar outrage, and contributed to the turn of public opinion against that war.

Today it is Cameron’s UK government which stands exposed in its utter callousness towards the refugee crisis. Yet, British imperial involvement in the Middle East has contributed to the exodus of many of the refugees fleeing the consequences of successive UK government’s (both Labour and Conservative) military interventions.

Below we are posting an article by Mary McGregor (RCN), from the current issue, no.24, of Emancipation & Liberation, which makes the simple humanitarian call – “Let them in.”


A young Vietnamese girl suffering USAF inflicted napalm burns in 1972

A young Vietnamese girl suffering USAF inflicted napalm burns in 1972

The drowning of 3 year old Kurdish Syrian refugee, Aylan Kurdi found on a Turkish beach

The drowning of 3 year old Kurdish Syrian refugee, Aylan Kurdi found on a Turkish beach











In this article I intend not to use the following terms: migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. The media and establishment have successfully imbued each of these terms with negative connotations. They are conflated, misrepresented and fed into the narrative that is seeking to portray anyone trying to come to this country as people to be reviled and feared.
Continue reading “LET THEM IN”

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