Mahir Çayan (born March 15, 1946, Samsun – died March 30, 1972, Kızıldere, Niksar, Tokat) is a Turkish Marxist-Leninist militant, the founder of the People's Liberation Party-Front of Turkey. He was killed with nine of his friends in Kızıldere village of Niksar district of Tokat on March 30, 1972.
Mahir Çayan's father, Aziz Çayan, is from Gümüş sub-district of Gümüşhacıköy district of Amasya. The part of the sub-district on the Hamamözü side is called "Çörükler Barracks", and the part on the Amasya side is called "Çayanların Barracks". Mahir Çayan's relatives still live there. Today, the name of the village has been changed to Yeniköy. In some sources, it is claimed that Çayan is of Circassian origin.
Born in Samsun, Mahir Çayan spent his secondary and high school periods in Haydarpaşa High School, namely in Istanbul. He enrolled in Istanbul University Faculty of Law in 1963. The following year, he continued his education at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Ankara. During this period, he joined the SBF (Faculty of Political Sciences) Ideas Club, which is affiliated to TİP and FKF (Federation of Intellectual Clubs). He also assumed the presidency of this club in 1965.
In 1967, he went to France for a short time with his then-girlfriend Gülten Savaşçı. He followed the general course of the socialist movements in France and the discussions they were in. He participated in the 1968th Fleet actions in 6 in İzmir and was taken into custody. During this period, he took part in the National Democratic Revolution debates defended by Mihri Belli, which started within the Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP) and in the leadership of the THKP-C, which was founded later. In this process, he carried out studies in Karadeniz Ereğli on behalf of TİP.
After this trip, he ideologically joined the ranks of the National Democratic Revolution. He describes the fundamental difference with the TYPE as the "problem of revolution". During his stay in France, he was influenced by the armed (phocoist) struggles of Latin America. He accuses TİP of legalism in this process, and argues that the revolutionary process in Turkey can only be achieved through an armed struggle and determination of its own specific conditions. He writes articles in the journals Türk Solu and Aydınlık, who are closer to this view. The important articles he wrote in this period are “The Sharp Smell of Revisionism 1”, “The Sharp Smell of Revisionism 2” and “The Quality of Aren Opportunism”.
The name of the Idea Clubs Federation, which was held in Ankara in 1969, was changed to DEV-GENÇ (Revolutionary Youth Federation). Mahir Çayan married Gülten Savaşçı in 1970. He did not participate in the TIP congress held in 1971, but he organizes a meeting with TIP and students and workers from its own working environment. After his differences with Mihri Belli became clear, he separated his way from the National Democratic Revolution (MDD) process and started armed propaganda activities for the popular revolution instead of waiting for the "young officers" to carry out a military coup. At that time, Turkey expressed the revolutionary process in the brochures "Uninterrupted Revolution I-II-III". He defines the structure of Turkey as oligarchy. In addition, “There is a balance between the state and the people with the increase in the level of welfare in Turkey compared to the past.” He called this balance “artificial balance”. He argued that disrupting the artificial balance would only be possible through armed struggle.
In this process, he continues the establishment of THKP-C together with Münir Ramazan Aktolga and Yusuf Kupeli. Other important names of the organization include Ertuğrul Kürkçü, İlhami Aras, Ulaş Bardakçı, Mustafa Kemal Kaçaroğlu and Hüseyin Cevahir. Mahir Çayan, who has adopted the urban guerrilla model, is personally involved in the planning and realization of armed actions accordingly. Meanwhile, Çayan, who also planned the urban guerrilla actions of THKP, participated in the robbery of Ziraat Bank Küçükesat Branch in Ankara on February 12, 1971. In February 1971, Hüseyin Cevahir came to Istanbul with Ulaş Bardakçı, Ziya Yılmaz, Kamil Dede and Oktay Etiman and made preparations for the organization to continue its activities there. He participated in the robbery of Erenköy Türk Ticaret Bankası on March 15, 1971. After that, on April 4, 1971, businessmen Mete Has and Talip Aksoy were kidnapped and ransom of 400 thousand lira was carried out together with their friends. Meanwhile, he prepared the charter of the People's Liberation Party of Turkey together with Münir Ramazan Aktolga. In the same days, Mahir Çayan, who also wrote the party's statement called "The Revolutionary Way", was involved in the kidnapping and murder of Israeli Consul General Efraim Elrom on May 22, 1971. Mahir Çayan and Hüseyin Cevahir are besieged in a house in Maltepe, Istanbul, after a clash with the police while escaping from their house. They take 14-year-old Sibel Erkan hostage, who is in the house. In order to convince Çayan and Cevahir, their parents and family elders are brought to the scene. After Hüseyin Cevahir and Mahir Çayan did not surrender, an operation was carried out on the house on 1 June 1971. Cevahir and Çayan take Sibel Erkan away from the windows to protect them. Ilkay Demir in prison; He described Mahir Çayan as slightly bald, dark-haired and brunette, and upon this, the sniper Mahir Çayan opened fire on Hüseyin Cevahir, whose chest he was in. Before he dies, Cevahir shouts "lion" and breathes his last. “Aslan” is a code between Çayan and Cevahir. Çayan, on the other hand, points the barrel at his heart and pulls the trigger in order not to be captured, as he had agreed with his friend before. However, because he is left-handed, his hand trembles and the bullet pierces his lungs instead of his heart. Hüseyin Cevahir is captured dead and Mahir Çayan injured. Sibel Erkan was not harmed.
After Mahir Çayan was arrested, he was kept in a solitary cell for a while, apart from his fellow members of the organization. At the end of the nine-day death fast, he was brought to Istanbul Maltepe Prison at midnight. While the case was ongoing, on November 29, 1971 Mahir Çayan, Ulaş Bardakçı, Ziya Yılmaz from the THKP-C and Cihan Alptekin and Ömer Ayna from the People's Liberation Army of Turkey (THKO for short) escaped from the excavated tunnel. After the desertion, there was a split within the THKP-C. He met with Yusuf Kupeli and Münir Aktolga on 12 December 1971 to discuss the conflict that broke out within the organization during this time. However, this meeting did not yield any results, and Çayan blamed these two friends in the Central Committee for abandoning the party's strategy while they were inside. Later, with the approval of the other members of the general committee, he had Yusuf Kupeli and Münir Ramazan Aktolga expelled from the THKP-C.
Mahir Çayan, whose opportunities to stay in Istanbul are narrowing, moves to Ankara. On February 19, Ulaş Bardakçı was besieged in his house in Arnavutköy and was killed in a clash with the security forces. Mahir Çayan and his friends, on the one hand, try not to be caught by constantly changing places, on the other hand, they search for action possibilities for the rescue of Deniz Gezmiş, Hüseyin İnan and Yusuf Aslan, who have been given the death penalty. Relations in Ankara are also getting narrower as a result of the arrests. First, some cadres are sent to the Black Sea. After Koray Doğan was killed by the police and other arrests, Mahir Çayan, Cihan Alptekin, Ömer Ayna and Ertuğrul Kürkçü went to the Black Sea.
On March 26, 1972, Mahir Çayan and his friends kidnapped three technicians, one Canadian and two British, working at Ünye Radar Base, and hid in the house of headman Emrullah Arslan in Kızıldere village of Niksar district of Tokat. Çayan and his friends, who escaped from the Istanbul Kartal Military Prison by digging a tunnel, where they were imprisoned, left a coded vault of the British, whom they missed, a notice demanding that the verdict given for Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan, who were sentenced to death by the Ankara Martial Law Command Military Court No. 1, should not be executed. They add to the statement that this statement should be broadcast on the radio, and that if it is not broadcast, their technicians will be killed.
Searches begin in Fatsa-Ünye-Niksar districts. A search on the Niksar-Unye highway is enough to track down Çayan and his friends. Hasan Yılmaz, who was caught, said, “They gave me 100 liras. I guided. I showed the way. All of them are in Kızıldere village.” says. The headman Emrullah Arslan, the owner of the house where they were hiding, is found and made to talk. Interior Minister Ferit Kubat, Gendarmerie General Command Intelligence Chief General Vehbi Parlar, Samsun Gendarmerie Regional Commander Colonel Celal Durukan went to Kızıldere village on 29 March. "Surrender!" Against their call, Çayan and his friends said, “We have the British. We will not surrender! We will collide. The British will die here.” they give the answer. Afterwards, Mahir Çayan was the first to be shot by the soldiers, and he died right there. The hostage technicians with their hands tied behind their backs were also shot and killed by Çayan's friends.