Dursun Karataş

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Dursun Karataş

Dursun Karataş  (March 25th, 1952 — August 11th, 2008) was a Kurdish revolutionary and the founding leader of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C).


Karataş founded Dev Sol ("Revolutionary Left", precursor of DHKP-C) in 1978, as an offshoot of the Dev Yol ("Revolutionary Way"). The group was based in Istanbul.

Karataş was jailed after the 1980 military coup. In prison a political reorganisation was undertaken. The Dev-Sol inmates at Bayrampaşa prison refused to follow orders and boycotted court invitations. In prison Karataş wrote "Haklıyız Kazanacağız" ("We Are Right, We Shall Prevail"); a work which included an analysis of the movement's mistakes, and a list of the organization's enemies. It was published in two volumes in 1989, spanning more than 1000 pages.

He escaped from prison in 1989 and fled to Western Europe. In 1989 to 1990, Dev Sol carried out a series of attacks. However, on 12 July 1991, Turkish police was able to dismantle several cells of the organization. Karataş fled to Europe. In April 1992, his wife Sabahat was killed by the Turkish police.

Following the police crackdown on Dev-Sol, Karataş was kidnapped and detained by the second-in-command of the movement, Bedri Yağan, on 13 September 1993. Karataş did however escape from captivity, and Dev-Sol was divided. Karataş and his followers reorganized their movement as DHKP-C.

On September 9th, 1994, he was arrested at the Franco-Italian border, and sentenced to four years in prison. In 2006 a Belgian court sentenced him in absentia.

The Ankara 9th administrative court ruled in February 2007 that Turkey should pay an YTL 1,000 compensation to Karataş, who was tried in absentia for 27 years, for membership in an outlawed organization and the unauthorized possession of guns and fake documents. The judges' decision stated that: "The Karataş trial process started at the Ordu Martial Law Court in 1981 and has not been concluded since then. We have decided that Turkey should pay compensation to Karataş for such a lengthy trial process."


Karataş died on August 11th, 2008 at the Rijnstate hospital in Arnhem, Netherlands. (Some sources initially reported him as having died in Belgium, however the spokesperson of the organization in Brussels, Bahar Kimyongür, said that Karataş' friends gathered to pay their respects in the Netherlands.) He lies in the Gazi Cemevi of Istanbul. Over 20,000 people attended his funeral procession.