On Saturday morning (10th October, 2015), two devastating explosions killed at least 120 people and wounded nearly 250 in Ankara, the Turkish capital, where many labour organisations, including the Confederation of Public Sector Trades’ Unions (KESK), the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), and the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), the members of two opposition parties, Republican People’s Party (CHP) and People’s Democratic Party (HDP), and peace activists gathered for a peace rally to protest the recent resumption of armed conflict in Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish question. It is the deadliest terror attack in Turkey’s modern history.
The attack occurred just after Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organisation that includes The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had hinted at a ceasefire as a way of bolstering the political chances of the HDP and amid the heightening tensions just three weeks before snap parliamentary elections.
Turkish authorities indicated that two suicide bombers carried out the blasts. However, no group has claimed responsibility of the explosions. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu declared three days of national morning during a televised press conference, saying: “the attack in Ankara targets our unity, democracy, peace” and calling it “the most painful incident in the history of the Turkish republic”. His office later issued a gag order on media for reporting the coverage of the attack. Many users on social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook experienced bandwidth throttling, the intentional slowing of Internet service by an Internet service provider.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the bombings and stated that the attack targeted the country’s unity and peace. The leader of CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu announced that his party has cancelled election campaign activities for three days ,and said “Turkey does not deserve this” while demanding an inspection on the possible security frailty at the security and intelligence bodies. Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the HDP, on the other hand, told: “We are faced with a very huge massacre, a vicious, barbarous attack”. Blaming the government, he said “the attack was part of the same campaign as the bombing of an HDP rally in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir on the eve of June elections and a suicide bombing blamed on Islamic State in Suruc near the Syrian border in July, which killed 33 mostly young pro-Kurdish activists”, the Reuters reported.
There is no doubt that Turkey’s long-standing issues and conflicts, including the Kurdish question cannot be resolved without an inclusive and comprehensive approach that involves Parliament, opposition parties and civil society organisations so that these can be discussed at a public level. It is crucially important, therefore, that all political actors concerned, the government in particular act in principle and refrain from using polarising language that would increase social tension in Turkey. The recent Ankara bombings were truly heart-breaking and as the Turkey Institute, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the people lost their lives in this appalling terrorist attack.