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Why are we together?

Historical Background

Having long been depopulated with policies of assimilation and extermination, and treated as second-class citizens; the Armenians in Turkey have been alienated to lands where they have dwelled for long. They have been suppressed and silenced, with their rights violated by the Ottoman Empire, and later by the Turkish Republic. Foreshadowing the later genocides of the 20th century, the Armenian Genocide was, to say the least, the ultimate expression of the desire to end Armenians’ historical belonging to their lands. Surviving Armenians were forced to leave their home as further de-Armenianization of Turkey was pursued with pogroms and massacres.

The Armenian Genocide of 1915 did not only entail mass extermination of the Armenians. Concurrently, social and cultural spaces of Armenians, including their homes, schools and churches were expropriated; thousands of them were demolished and abandoned to be destroyed. Properties and means of production at the ownership of the Armenians, such as lands, machines and factories were confiscated by the constituted assembly of the Republic under the “nationalization” of the economy. Surviving Armenian women and children were enslaved; they were coopted within exploitation regime as the lowermost parts. Constituting the majority of the Armenian diaspora today, the Armenians who could escape from the 1915 Genocide were precluded from repatriating by the Turkish Republic in compliance with de-Armenianization and Turkification policies. Armenian names of places were changed and graves were destroyed; so that collective memory and history of Amerians were meant to be wiped away. Assimilation policies (“white Genocide”), which followed the organized massacres, plunders and mass destructions, still continue to be prevalent in Turkey. These policies have not only sowed the seeds of animosity between the Armenians and other peoples; but also alienated Armenians themselves from their own history, culture and their own country. While prejudices and hostility of every people against the other have been systematically provoked; any possibility of co-existing people’s fighting against discriminatory regime has been eliminated.

Despite of ongoing pogroms, massacres and perennial policies of discriminatory-assimilative practices against the Armenians and other peoples in the early Republican era, the Armenians maintained to be present in parliamentary as well as non-parliamentary media of political participation. While anti-Armenianism was on the rise, Turkey has gone under successive fascist military coup d’états which have restructured political, social and economic orders. In the aftermath of the 1980 coup d’état, “January 24 decisions” was the harbinger of neoliberal restructuring of all spheres of political, social and economic belonging. The Armenians in Turkey had their shares from burden: The Armenians who could achieve, though restricted, political participation were entirely excluded from the political sphere; their presence in legal-representational politics was utterly cleared off. Bonds of solidarity, which were not formative in the preceding years, were ruled out by the rampant ideology of individualization, atomization and de-politicization that entailed withdrawal of the social from the political sphere.

Our urge to be heard

In the sequel of the 1980 coup d’état, 1990s witnessed the Armenians’ persistent struggle to be politically present, which succeeded in the establishment of Aras Publishing and Agos Newspaper. Public disclosures of their poverty, troubles and sufferings in Agos Newspaper acquired widespread support of the Armenian people, regardless of the uneasiness of the Armenian elites. Though Hrant Dink’s articles gained wide-reaching audience among the political public, the burning issue of the Armenians’ underrepresentation remained unsolved. Crisis of political representation caused disorganization among the Armenians, but also engendered feelings of despair, solitude and de-politicization. Other than individual engagements, the Armenians largely withdrew from legal politics and retained organized struggles for rights. Needless to say, the primary cause of this withdrawal was the besetting memory of the Genocide and the fact that it was never recognized by the state, never stood up against it as a crime against humanity. This had inflicted the Armenian people distrust against other peoples and their struggles for rights.

Assassination of Hrant Dink in January 19, 2007 was another crime against Armenians. Just as 1942 Capital Tax and September 6-7, 1955 proved, it publicly testified to the prevalence of the 1915 Genocide. Masses gathered in Dink’s funeral also testified to how his assassination was a deeply shocking trauma not only for the Armenians, but also the whole society. His funeral also became ceremony of solidarity and brotherhood among peoples. In this respect, it has been the most powerful response of the Armenians to ongoing policies of uniformization, Turkification and assimilation. The murder of Hrant Dink did only induce among Armenians a need to organize and struggle together; but also engendered bonds of solidarity and comradeship between the Armenians and the democratic public in Turkey. Uttering of the political demands, which were formerly rendered as “identity claims” and even “secondary” to so-called revolutionary agenda, could finally break through discriminating walls of prejudices and distrust among the Armenians.

A New Awakening, A New Beginning

In this historical background, Nor Zartonk represents an unavoidable new awakening that breaks through assimilation, enslavement and subordination for the Armenian people! Though it was founded before 2007, Nor Zartonk was heavily shaped as an expression of the self-organization of Armenians in Turkey after the assassination of Hrant Dink. It has become a common roof under which the Armenians whose being has long been denied by the nation state could finally start struggling in solidarity. Needless to say, political horizon of Nor Zartonk is not drawn by the prospects of political representation of the Armenians. All revolutionary-democratic organizations have dreadfully lost social support after the 1980 coup and the defeat of real socialism. The cadres of internationalist and collective organizations in the 1960s and 70s were imprisoned, tortured and murdered by the state and the counterinsurgency. Ignored trivialized and even despised with the mainstream left politics; political demands for ethnic belonging, gender equality, LGBT, environment and animal rights could be given voice in their own organizations. Today, revolutionary-democratic organizations in Turkey are forced to develop far-reaching solutions to the burning issues of the working class and new social movements. However, we contend that struggle could only succeed if pursued in solidarity, with common grounds and perspectives which could also provide fruitful passage from common political practice towards far-extending emancipation of all.

Nor Zartonk defends an organized struggle for a classes, borderless, free World without exploitation. Problems of racism, exploitation, ecological destruction, speciesism, and sexism are all entangled with the capitalist system we live in; therefore their ultimate overcoming requires anti-capitalist perspective. In this context, it is our historical obligation to create common grounds for all anti-systemic struggles. Nor Zartonk defends an imaginary of a world, of a country which all can inhabit equally, freely and in solidarity. Such perspective to support all these struggles is the primary and ultimate principle of Nor Zartonk.

What does Nor Zartonk stand for?

Class struggle

The capitalist system which is based on the exploitation of the surplus value created the new social classes. Capitalist relations of production legitimized the explotitation of labor and strengthened the domination of capital over labor. Through neoliberalist policies we face a privitazation boom and marketing all the public goods. The level of explotitation of the workers is increasing. Explotitation of labor leads to worsening and unsecure working conditions and to subcontract work. The injustice and cruelty of the system is being masked through the nationalist-racist and conservative policies and hostility between ethnical communities and thus the system enables its own continuity.

Nor Zartonk stands clearly against exploitation of labor and struggles for classless, borderless and for a free world. It fights for organization of workers against exploitation of labor by capital from all over the world.

Freedom of thought, expression, communication, belief and organization

The main paradigm of freedom in bourgeois democracy is the freedom of ownership of property. All other forms of freedom except freedom of private property can be ignored in times when the existence of the capitalistic system and its hegemony is at stake. Freedom of speech, expression, communication, belief and organization are those freedoms and basic rights that are often ignored or rendered secondary.
Nor Zartonk stands for the freedom of thought, communication, belief and organisation and struggles for the lifting of the barriers of the democracy. In this manner Nor Zartonk is also struggling for the abolition of Anti-Terror Law, for a general amnesty for political prisoners and for a free and full right of representation for ethnical identities. Nor Zartonk is against undemocratic laws like eloctoral threshold and it aims to lift all the barriers which stands for the restriction of political and syndical organizing. It is against the cencorship in media and the aggressive political involvement of the state in freedom of communication.

Nor Zartonk is for the removal all obstacles against freedom of belief which should also capture the freedom of disbelief. Nor Zartonk evaluates belief as a personal issue and refuses any outer involvement in it. It is against the abusement of beliefs by politics and stands for the withdrawing of the Institution of Religious Affairs.

Participatory Democracy

The representational democracy is a non-functional show-democracy where people can only attend political affairs only in times of elections. Representational injustice and anti-democratic election regulations are the dilemmas of the representational democracy. In this manner local-self government system and the participation of people in governing should be strengthened. In local units local councils should be established to enable widest participation of people in decision making mechanisms.

Education

Education is the most important ideological apparatus of the state and it is the most abuses apparatus in terms of nationalism, racism, sexism and competitiveness. Nevertheless education system in Turkey is being used against any minority other than Turkish and Sunni for the purposes of assimilation.

Nor Zartonk refuses the discriminatory, nationalist, racist models of education and is against mandatory religion lessons. It is for an education system which is tuition free, scientific,equal,democratic, in mother tongue and accessible. It refuses an competitive education system and exams which only deepens the unequity. Nor Zartonk defends academic and scientific freedom of universities and their management by their institutional components.

Nor Zartonk sees the education as a means to an end, a peaceful coexistence of people. It defends that the framework of education should comprise equality, justice, liberty, human rights, democracy and peace. It sees the education in mother tongue as a key to coexistence of people. As the demand of people to the free usage of their mother tongues increases, the prejudices against diverse identities will be lifted and the society will be normalized.

Racism, Nationalism and Citizenship

Nor Zartonk stands for the peaceful existence of different languages, cultures and identities and rejects any kind of racism and nationalism.

Nor Zartonk struggles against denial and assimilation policies and refuses any hierarchical relations between different cultures and identities. It fights for the recognition and equality of all cultures and identities. For Nor Zartonk citizenship should be defined over geographical belongingness rather than ethnicity. In this manner conceptions like ‘being the citizen of Turkey’ or concepts which refer to the geography should be used.

Nor Zartonk fights for a world without borders and supports the idea that the migrants should also benefit from the rights as the citizens. It struggles against any injustice concerning migrants and their rights.

Anti-militarism and conscientious objection

Military expenses and the race of armament are destroying everything good for the society. The resources which are supposed to be used for the good of the society are used for war investments. This deepens the poverty and inequality even more. Besides, the militarism which supports annihilation and denial policies of the monist and marginalising system comes up as “accidents”, “lack of attention”, “joke” and “suicide”.

Nor Zartonk strongly defends antimilitarism. It stands up for the abolishment of the compulsory military service and conscientious objection. In this context, it struggles for chemical and biological disarmament, abolishment of NATO and other international war organisations and alliances that protect the capitalist interests. Peace against world of wars for capitalist interests can only be achieved through joint struggle of the peoples.

Gender inequality and Sexual Discrimination

Gender inequality is a historical, political, economical and a cultural problem. Patriarchy is a set of social relations of glorification of the male dominance and exploitation of the workforce and the body of the women. Marginalisation of the non-males creates another hierarchy. The gender inequality must be eliminated, in other words the male dominance must be eliminated in all spheres of life.
Nor Zartonk objects all patriarchal roles and responsibilities. It is against gender discrimination. It rejects all the construction of the social system via glorification of the masculinity. It advocates the freedom of all the sexual identities and sexual orientations. In this context, it objects homophobia, transphobia as well as the social repression and violence towards sexual orientations caused as a result of heterosexism.

Nor Zartonks believes that the subject of the struggle against patriarchy is women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenders (LGBTI) and supports the struggle of the LGBTI’s in all life spaces.

Ecology

Production in the actual capitalist system aims to make more profit rather than the satisfaction of needs of the society. Thus, this production style commoditizes the nature and the life more. Therefore, the desire of the capital in permanent growth and profit dominates the nature likewise every other part of the human life.

Nor Zartonk objects the domination of the human beings on the nature and defends life against the damage of the capitalism on the ecology. It believes that in order to protect the balance of the nature, there should fundamentally be focused on the capitalist production and the consumption instead of the individual inhibition methods on consumption.

It objects any kind mode of production that damages the nature. Nor Zartonk supports production for the good of the people against overexploitation of energy resources due to the overconsumption culture. In this context, it is against production mode with GMO’s (and its similars)

Nor Zartonk objects market based energy policies and projects. All the nuclear power plants should be shut down and renewable energy practices should be supported.

Nor Zartonk objects the destruction of the historical and cultural heritage of the cities, dislocation of the people and the cities being plundered under the name of “gerontification” via urban reconstruction.

Gerontocracy

Age and experience are considered to be related without reference to any kind of scientific evidence, thus this is used as an instrument of repression.

Nor Zartonk believes that usage of age and experience as an instrument of repression is another kind human repression and struggles against it.