Demirtas: Attack Perpetrated by the State against the People
ANKARA, Turkey (A.W.)—Two explosions targeted a peace rally in Ankara this morning, killing at least 97 people and injuring close to 200. Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) condemned the attack and stated that the suspected suicide bombings targeted the HDP.
The attack occurred in an area where HDP supporters were gathered, which suggests that “the main target of the attacks was HDP,” the party said in a statement addressed to the international community, stressing that there had been no police presence in the area where the attacks occurred. Riot police arrived to the scene about 15 minutes after the explosion, and proceeded to use tear gas against people scrambling to help those injured, according to the statement.
Clashes between civilians and police reportedly took place after riot police were seen as preventing ambulances from reaching the victims.
According to reports, an HDP candidate who was planning to run in the Nov. 1 elections was among those killed.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attack an act of terrorism and an “attack on our unity and our country’s peace.” “No matter what its origin, aim or name, we are against any form of terrorist act or terrorist organization. We are obliged to be against it together,” Erdogan said in a statement.
“This attack is not targeting our state and national unity; it is perpetrated by the state against the people,” HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas said, according to the party’s English-language Twitter page.
The attack was executed on the day the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) declared a ceasefire ahead of the Nov. 1 general elections.
The rally was organized near the city’s central train station by several NGOs including the Confederation of Public Employees’ Trade Unions (KESK), the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK), the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), and the Turkish Medical Association (TTB). The protest was “against war and AKP’s hostile and violent policies,” and was “strongly supported” by the HDP according to the party’s statement.
Following the explosions, images emerged showing the site of the attack, bloody protesters, and bodies covered in banners and HDP flags.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced three days of national mourning following the attack. He also confirmed that there was substantial evidence that two suicide bombers had carried out the attacks.
Meanwhile, thousands in Istanbul reacted by taking to the central Istiklal Avenue. Some held signs accusing the authorities of being behind the attacks.
Below is a video footage of the moment the first explosion took place.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xocmSvemKf0
Authorities Impose Media Ban
Turkish authorities were also quick to censor media coverage of the attack. A statement released by the Turkish Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) announced that the prime minister had imposed a “temporary broadcast ban regarding the terror attack conducted in Ankara this morning.” Twitter, Facebook, and several other social media sites were also inaccessible throughout Turkey after the temporary ban.
The Associated Press reported that authorities claimed that images showing the blast and its aftermath would “create a feeling of panic,” hence the ban. Authorities reportedly warned media organizations they could face a “full blackout” if they did not comply.
Sarkisian Sends Condolence Letter
Following the attack, among the many expressions of condolences by world leaders, Armenia’s President Serge Sarkisian also sent a letter of condolence to Erdogan.
“Please accept my condolences over the incident. I wish steadfastness and strength of spirit to the victims’ relatives, and a speedy recovery to the injured,” read a part of his letter.
Meanwhile, according to the HDP’s Twitter page, Demirtas was quoted as saying: “Leaders, presidents are calling the prime minister for condolences. These are hollow gestures. Condolences should be addressed to the people.”
The Ankara attack comes three months after a suicide bombing targeted around 300 members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) Youth Wing and the Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF). The young activists were giving a press statement on the reconstruction of Kobane on July 20 when the bombing took place. Following the Suruc attack, Sarkisian sent a letter to Erdogan expressing his condolences and condemning the violence.