Generation 68’s struggle liberated women

WALL – Former TIP senator Deniz Gezmiş, lawyers of Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan, daughter of Niyazi Ağırnaslı and journalist Nuran Ağırnaslı, who is remembered for her struggle during those years; Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan spoke about those days on the 50th anniversary of their execution and what it meant to be a woman at that time.

According to Ağırnaslı, the 68th generation has embarked on a more equal world and women’s participation in revolutionary and political struggle has liberated women.


It has certainly been talked about and written about, but if you assess this period from a woman’s point of view, what sort of Turkey did Generation 68 want to build?

We were young people with men and women (especially men) who left with a dream or a utopia of a fairer and more sharing egalitarian world.

The most striking aspect of ’68 is the revolutionary movements that occur simultaneously all over the world and especially in the universities. At the same time, the interest in art, the effort to learn and struggle, the music listened to and the well-equipped and intellectual personalities accompanied the revolutionaries of the 68th generation.

What was it like to be a woman in the 68th generation? What kind of process did the women go through between 1968 and 1972, until Denizs was executed?

In those years, we didn’t have a particular female point of view. If I want to express it with today’s speech, we can say that there was a partially male perspective. In fact, the way to be in a fight was not to be too feminine.

One day we met Ulaş (Ulaş Bardakçı) in the canteen and I was wearing a dress for the first time and he looked at me and said; “You have become like Scottish men, let me love your eyes, please don’t wear them anymore.”

In fact, it was like that was where they wanted to see us. Nowadays, when I look at women who fit our class situation, I find that they are more natural and I believe that this situation is also healthy.


As a woman, you participated in the struggle of those years. Have women been able to gain a large place in this struggle?

When I joined METU, I had a political background and became a member of SFK as soon as I entered school. After that, the process developed very quickly.

There is the burning of Komer’s car and then the METU occupation. We maintained a community relationship there. The canteen was busy, we cooked and delivered the food ourselves. “Let the girls cook” did not exist. All the necessary work has been done together.

At that time, the number of women in METU was low and the number of women revolutionaries even fewer. Therefore, under the influence of our male friends, our clothes immediately distinguished themselves from the style of non-revolutionary women. Jeans, corduroys, a parka, etc. But despite everything, we had girlfriends who did not fall into this category and preserved their feminine features. But we knew ours was the favorite. Sometimes our boyfriends fell in love with girls with more feminine features. But they couldn’t attribute that to us women as their comrades.

We were not oppressed women, we were well educated, well equipped. In our family, there was no serious difference between boys and girls. None of us, including the girls around me, were coerced into what was considered a woman’s traditional duty. On the other hand, there was neither a feminine point of view in the country at that time, nor a horizon to force it. As the left has become massive, this situation has naturally changed. Participating in revolutionary or political struggle has increasingly liberated women.

At that time, the friendships of a small number of revolutionary women with other women living in dormitories were also not very healthy. We looked at them with a certain contempt. We had a preconceived view that criticized that “they only deal with clothes”. When I remember these now, I think we have a repulsive side to them.

In fact, women participated both as themselves and as women during the 68 period. Women have always existed in protests, demonstrations, barricades, prisons, exile and torture. With male comrades and even like to break down their prejudices against us.

What do you remember from those days? Can you share one of the events that comes to mind…

On the way from METU to Esenboğa airport to pick up Taylan’s (Taylan Özgür) funeral, I remember that we spontaneously sang the translated verses of Ankara’s anthem with our most revolutionary feelings and with a great anger:

Even if our arms break

Our heart triggers

Even if Taylan Özgür dies

Enough to shake the name

Our hearts are knives

Will know as hard

Even if Taylan Özgür dies

There are millions to fight

Our last word has not been spoken

The fight has only just begun

Even if Taylan Özgür dies

Nice Thai people will grow


We are also talking about a time when people are dealing with great pain and trauma. What if I asked you about the event that shocked you the most during this period?

When Efraim Elrom (the consul general of Israel in Istanbul) was kidnapped in 1971, operations were organized in Ankara and Istanbul in retaliation against him and I was detained for the first time. I was detained in Ankara Yıldırım region for 1 month. While I was there, I learned of the murder of the Sinans in Nurhak. This news is the second biggest trauma for me after Taylan’s murder in Istanbul.

We learned painfully and knowingly that the struggle for revolution and freedom was not at all easy. As we lost our loved ones, we continued to live and struggle with ambition and faith.

Perhaps the depths of our minds were like Sevinç Eratalay sang in the folk song: “Even if our bravest are dead, our pregnant mothers of the brave.”

‘My father did not defend me in protest against the hanging of the seas’

Nuran Ağırnaslı, Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan describe their memories of these iconic figures of the time on the 50th anniversary of their execution:

We listened to what happened during the executions of Deniz, Hüseyin and Yusuf, with the narration of brother Halit (Halit Çelenk) and Mükerrem (Mukerrem Erdoğan), who participated in their execution, at brother Halit’s house.

After Deniz, Hüseyin and Yusuf were sentenced to death, my father (Niyazi Ağırnaslı) and other lawyers decided not to attend the hearings, saying “the courts are for show”. I was the only girl in the third THKO case, where around 50 people were tried. A judge on the board chaired by Ali Elverdi must have been a little upset about this situation, because he asked my father why he hadn’t defended me, and he said why. I was released shortly before the 1974 amnesty and the case was dropped with the amnesty declaration.

In the meantime, I was editor of the first 10 issues of a monthly political magazine, and that’s why I was arrested. I was detained for 4 months in the women’s ward of Sağmalcılar prison. I was released pending trial. Shortly after its publication, the September 12 military coup took place. The house where we were with 3 friends and my 4 year old daughter was raided and we were detained for 1 month.

I stayed in prison for a year and a half, first in Selimiye and then in Metris prisons, to be tried for the TDKP case and the ongoing media trials.

In 1982, a release verdict was issued in the main case and I was released. An arrest was made in the press case, but the fezleke did not go to jail. So I was accidentally released and became a fugitive. After that, lawsuits were concluded one after another.

You had to live in Germany for many years? What process was it?

The birth of my son, Suphi Nejat, coincided with our fleeting period. We left the country together in 1988.

Adapting to another culture in another country was a very difficult process. Many revolutionaries went through similar processes before and after us. Being a female journalist in Germany offered us advantages of being accepted in a short time and finding a job afterwards, even though I could not bring any documents for the acceptance of my asylum application.

In 1995, after the abolition of the 141st and 142nd articles, I applied for asylum and came to Turkey for the first time in 7 years. I made a definitive comeback in 2004.

The last word is from his son Nejat…

Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı, a graduate of Boğaziçi University, grandson of Niyazi Ağırnaslı, one of the lawyers of Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan, and son of Nuran Ağırnaslı and Hikmet Acun, died at the age of 30 years in 2014 in Kobanê, where he went to fight against ISIS. .

Nuran Ağırnaslı ended our conversation by quoting his son: “Every heart is a revolutionary cell, the imagination in power…”

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