Deniz Gezmiş

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Deniz Gezmiş
File:Deniz Gezmiş.jpg
Born 27 February 1947(1947-02-27)
Ayaş, Ankara Province, Turkey
Died May 6, 1972(1972-05-06) (aged 25)[1]
Ankara, Turkey
Nationality Turkish
Ethnicity Turkish[citation needed]
Known for THKO (today DHKP/C)

Deniz Gezmiş (27 February 1947 – 6 May 1972) was a Turkish Marxist-Leninist revolutionary and political activist in Turkey in the late 1960s.[2] He was one of the founding members of the People's Liberation Army of Turkey (THKO).[1]

He was born to an inspector of primary education and syndicalist Cemil Gezmiş[3] 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".[4]

Political life

File:Deniz Gezmis picture from DFLP.jpg
The identification of Deniz Gezmiş, issued by Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and given during guerrilla training in 1969

After joining the Workers Party of Turkey (Template:Lang-tr), he studied law at İstanbul University in 1966. In 1968, he founded the Revolutionary Jurists Organisation (Template:Lang-tr) and the Revolutionary Student Union (Template:Lang-tr).

He became increasingly politically active, and led the student-organised occupation of İstanbul University on June 12, 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 July 30, 1968, to be released on October 20 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 November 28, 1968, he was arrested again after protesting US ambassador Robert Komer's visit to Turkey, but was later released. On March 16, 1969 he was arrested again for participating in right-wing and left-wing armed conflicts and imprisoned until April 3. Gezmiş was re-arrested after leading Istanbul University Law Faculty students on a protest of the reformation billTemplate:Clarify on May 31, 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.[5]

During the 60s, Gezmiş crossed paths with the infamous American double agent 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.[6]

Arrest and trial

On January 11, 1971, Deniz Gezmiş took part in the robbery of Emek branch of İş Bank/İş Bankasi(TR) in Ankara . On March 4 that year, he kidnapped four U.S. privates[7] from TUSLOG/The United States Logistics Group headquartered in Balgat, Ankara. After releasing the hostages, he and Yusuf Aslan were captured live between Gemerek-Yeniçubuk, Şarkışla and Sivas following an armed stand-off with law enforcement officers.

Their trial began on July 16, 1971. Gezmiş was sentenced to death on October 9 for violating the Turkish Criminal Code's 146th article, which concerns attempts to "overthrow Constitutional order". According to legal procedure, a death sentence must 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 friends said "Three for three".[citation needed]

On May 4, 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 May 6, 1972 in Ankara Central Prison along with Hüseyin İnan and Yusuf Aslan.

His last request was to drink tea and listen to Concierto de Aranjuez, Joaquín Rodrigo's guitar concerto.

Long live independence for the people of Turkey. Long live the great ideology of Marxist-Leninism. Long live the brotherhood of Turkish people. Damned be imperialism.

—Last words of Deniz Gezmiş.[citation needed][2]


Gezmiş's grave in Karşıyaka Cemetery, Ankara
  • Those who were executed on May 6, 1972 requested to be buried alongside Mustafa 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 actively supported the executions, told a journalist who was interviewing him that the executions were "a mishap which occurred during the cold war".[citation needed]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mullenbach, Mark J Middle East/North Africa/Persian Gulf Region. Third-Party Interventions in Intrastate Disputes Project. University of Central Arkansas. URL accessed on 2008-07-01.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cengiz Çandar. "The 68 generation, Deniz Gezmiş, and us", Turkish Daily News, 2008-04-06. Retrieved on 2008-06-30. 
  3. Deniz Gezmiş'in babası öldü, Milliyet, June 24, 2000.
  5. Yayla, Atilla (1989). "Terrorism in Turkey". SBF dergisi (Ankara University) 44 (3): 249–262. .  [dead link]
  6. Suzal, Savas. "Disislerinde CIA Köstebegi", Sabah, 1997-03-02. Retrieved on 2008-10-13. 
  7. NBC Evening News for Wednesday, Mar 17, 1971. NBC Evening News. Vanderbilt Television News Archive. URL accessed on 2008-07-01.

External links

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