|SocialismToday Socialist Party magazine|
Issue 193 November 2015
Ankara peace protest massacre
The horrendous double bombing of a protest rally for peace in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, saw at least 128 people killed. Hundreds were injured. The rally, on Saturday 10 October, had been organised by several trade unions. It is the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history. Many victims are still in intensive care units in various hospitals. A number of bodies, unrecognizable, have not yet been identified. This attack has shaken the country to its foundations.
The demonstration was organised by the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB). A few minutes before the protest started, a bomb exploded where activists from the left and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had gathered. A second blast occurred about 50 meters away, bringing more destruction and death. Eyewitnesses, including members of Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI) who arrived just a few minutes after the bombing, reported scenes of unspeakable horror.
They also confirmed reports of attempts by the police to obstruct help being given to the victims. Tear gas was fired into crowds of surviving protesters. Relatives and ambulances were not allowed through. Riot police were sent to the scene of the carnage even before the first ambulances arrived. Huseyin Demirdizen, from the TTB, said: "While the doctors from the health workers’ union were calling for blood donations, the government announced there was no need for blood. If the health workers were not already at the demonstration the number of deaths and wounded would have been much higher".
Almost immediately after the attack, the regime blocked Twitter and Facebook accounts in an attempt to prevent grassroots reports circulating and to give to the media controlled by the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) the upper hand. They accused left-wing groups or the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) of being behind the twin bombing.
The first response by state forces has left absolutely no doubt about where the regime stands in relation to what is not just a tragedy, but clearly a politically-orchestrated massacre. Whatever was the exact role of the regime headed by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in this attack, its political responsibility is overwhelming. The bombing took place in a context of a strategy of growing escalation and provocation, including physical attacks, by Erdoğan’s regime forces and his thugs against the left and the Kurdish national movement. A brutal war of aggression is also underway by the Turkish army against the PKK and the Kurdish people in the country’s south east, which has killed hundreds. Even though the PKK said on the day of the protest that it would maintain a ceasefire before Turkey goes to the polls on 1 November, the Turkish army bombed PKK positions in south east Turkey and northern Iraq, killing scores over the weekend.
The ‘anti-terrorist’ drum beat of the regime fools no one. It has been mainly used as a cover to crackdown on the left and against the pro-Kurdish and HDP activist base, which have overwhelmingly been at the receiving end of a campaign of state terror. Meanwhile, over recent years, Islamic State and other jihadist groups have benefited from the complicity of the Turkish state in their activities in Syria.
Hence the sadness and desolation provoked by the horrendous bombings rapidly and correctly merged into rage against the AKP government, including internationally. By the Saturday afternoon, tens of thousands of people demonstrated against the government in Istanbul and other cities. On the Sunday, about 10,000 were back on the streets, at the very square near the railway station where the bombings took place the day before. This shows the mood of defiance and fearlessness that exists. At the burial of some of the victims, the anger of the masses was running deep, and it is unlikely to evaporate anytime soon.
The four left-wing trade union confederations called for a 48-hour general strike on 12 and 13 October. A general strike, by bringing together the Kurdish and Turkish people to fight in a united way, is the best response to Erdoğan and his ruling clique’s attempts to use the blood of working people to divide-and-rule and enhance their power, as well as the profits of the rich business tycoons which this power defends. Across Turkey, workers, students, left-wing and pro-Kurdish campaigners staged mass protests, school and university boycotts, solid strikes and picket lines.
The CWI brings its full solidarity, sympathy and condolences to all those who were victims of the attack, all those who have lost relatives, friends and comrades. The best way to honour their deaths is by renewing the struggle against the thuggish and dictatorial regime of Erdoğan, against the capitalist system and imperialist powers that stand behind it, and for a socialist and democratic world. Let us make sure that this strike is only the beginning of the building of a mass and united workers’ and youth movement that can put this cynical and murderous regime into the dustbin of history.
Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI in Turkey)
For more CWI reports and analysis, see socialistworld.net