General strike targets Turkish regime over bombing, HDP calls for international support

October 12, 2015
A crowd salutes victims of the Ankara bombings, October 11.
A crowd salutes victims of the Ankara bombings, October 11.

Turkish trade unions began a two-day general strike on October 12 in protest at the bombings two days earlier at a peace march in Ankara peace march that killed more than 125 people, Morning Star online reported.

Thousands demonstrated in the capital, blaming the government for the massacre. Funerals were held for many victims. The strike was by the four unions that organised the October 10 protest that was hit by twin suicide bombings.

“To protest against the fascist massacre and to commemorate the death of our friends, we are now in mourning for three days,” the unions said in a joint statement.

The group comprises the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DSK), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB).

The pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), a major participant in the demonstration, supported the strike.

“We should unrelentingly show every day and in every place to those who tried to silence the people who gathered in Ankara for peace, that the voice of life and peace will not keep quiet,” it said in a statement.

The official death toll from the double bombing had risen to 97 by October 12, but the HDP put the true figure at 128.

The Peace and Development Party (AKP) government has claimed that the attacks were carried out by two suicide bombers, possibly from Islamic State (Isis). But in an open letter to the international community (published in full below), HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag blamed the AKP for the massacre.

They said: “The AKP's policy of relying on radical groups as proxies, which began with President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan's support of such groups as Isis, al-Nusra, and Ahrar al-Sham is at the heart of today's tragedy.”

They also accused Mr Erdogan of reigniting the conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to win votes in coming elections.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu denied the accusations and repeated his claims that the PKK may have been behind the attack.

“There was general intelligence that Daesh (Isis) especially and certain teams of the PKK in northern Iraq, teams calling themselves the 'immortals,' were being prepared,” he said.

The Turkish air force bombed PKK positions in Iraq hours after the Ankara attack despite the group, which has fought for Kurdish liberation since the late 1970s, honouring its offer of a ceasefire.

Video: Selahattin Demirtas responds to Davutoglu on Ankara bombing - English Subtitles - YouTube/Turkish Politics.

HDP Call to the international community

On October 10th, a Peace Rally that brought together many civil society organizations, revolutionary unions, and progressive and democratic parties, among them HDP, was the target of a horrendous attack.

Unfortunately, at least 128 of our fellow citizens were murdered in this attack, and hundreds wounded. We are concerned that the death toll may rise, as 48 among the wounded are in critical condition. This attack will go down as one of the bloodiest in the history of our republic.

There are clear links between the attacks on our party's rally in Amed on the 5th of June in 2015, in which five of our citizens died and more than 200 were injured, and the suicide bombing in Suruc on the 20th of July 2015 in which 34 of our citizens were killed during a press conference by youth from across Turkey in support of Kobane, as well as the suicide bombing on yesterday's Peace Rally in Ankara.

To date, none of the politicians in power has been held accountable regarding the previous two attacks. From the political rhetoric of Prime Minister Davutoglu and the ministers he appointed, as well as that of President Erdogan, we see no political accountability with regards to this bloodiest attack in the history of republic. On the contrary, their public statements show a readiness to blame the victims of this attack and our party.

Such a political tendency also shows that those responsible for this massacre will also be not brought to justice, and that even the investigation may be hidden from public scrutiny. The Prime Minister's Office has already censored media coverage of the Ankara Massacre, suggesting that the government will be protecting not only the agents of this attack, but also those in political and administrative positions who paved the way for it.

Regarding this chain of massacres, we have a number of expectations and clear demands from the international community and from political leaders. In making this call, we wish to underscore that the Ankara massacre and the aforementioned previous attacks are international in scope, and to make clear that we see the potential for such events to open the way to regional insecurity.

AKP's policy of relying on radical groups as proxies, which began with President Erdogan's support of, and even channeling through the intelligence organization MIT, the activities of such groups as ISIS, Al-Nusra, and Ahrar Al-Sham—used particularly against Kurds in Rojava—is at the heart of today's tragedy.

President Erdogan aims at the realization of a “Turkey-type presidential regime” which will render him as the sole political authority in Turkey. In order to achieve this, Mr. Erdogan needs his party AKP to secure the majority of the seats in the parliament to form a single-party government.

Pushing HDP under the electoral threshold (10%) stands out as a straightforward tactic for AKP for this very reason. In order to achieve this, AKP adopted “escalation of violence” as a strategic approach. In a context where the ceasefire ended, the attacks against the PKK have intensified. As the clashes escalated, the death toll of the soldiers were made a basis for creating a systematic wave of lynchings. AKP led fascist pogroms targeted HDP buildings as well as Kurdish groups living in the Western parts of the country on one hand. On the other, Kurdish cities have been kept under military blockade and curfew. Only in Cizre, 21 civilians were massacred by the Turkish Armed Forces as well as the police.

At a time when the extreme nationalist and polarizing policies are implemented in Turkey, the safety of the general elections (November 1) is a vexing question to be considered in a serious manner. Our electorates feel under constant threat in every social space and political activity they attend.

In order to maintain stability in the region, it is crucial to prevent the devastating effects of the conflict from spreading over a wider geography. For this very reason, it is extremely important for the international community to take a firmer stance against President Erdogan and the AKP government that have already lost legitimacy in the eyes of the public in Turkey.

Hereby, we encourage international community who stand in solidarity, to extend their condolences directly to the peoples of Turkey -- not to the state representatives who are politically and administratively responsible from the massacre.

Selahattin Demirtaş & Figen Yüksekdağ, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs
October 12, 2015

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