Seeking Peace in Turkey

A ‘Work, Peace and Democracy’ march turned into a massacre in Turkey.

What happened the morning of October 10th, 2015, in the city of Ankara, Turkey, represents “the worst terrorist outrage in the country’s modern history”, affirmed the Telegraph. While a large group of Kurdish groups, trade unions and leftist organizations were beginning a march to protest against the growing fightings between the Turkish state and Kurdish militants, twin bombs exploded and killed 128 persons, injuring 245 others, in a few seconds difference.

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Mr Goksin, one of the numerous activists in this pro-Kurdish protest, explains to the Telegraph that while they were dancing the ‘halay’, a traditional Turkish dance, and being cheerful and determined to promote peace, a sheet of orange flame suddenly started to puncture the sky behind them. “After the explosion I was overcome by shock. I fell on my knees, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then 15 seconds later there was a second blast. We saw flags and pieces of bodies flying into the air”, confessed he.

Before reviewing the implications and issues of this horrendous event, let us first be clear on who were the parties involved, and what claims they might have in this context, just a month before new Turkish elections. What is the relationship between Turkish and Kurdish people? Why are there tensions? What does this bombing might mean?

Of origin Indo-European, the Kurdish population, sunnis muslim in its majority, is spread out over Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. The number of Kurdish people varies, depending on the official or Kurdish sources, from 25 to 35 millions, with the biggest part living in Turkey (12-15 millions).

The Turkish-Kurdish conflict takes its roots back in 1920 where, after the WWI, the creation of a Kurdish State had been promised to the Kurdish population but did not happen in the end given that Turkey, inter alia, was said by the Allies to take a dominating position over the Kurdish population. After this unforgettable historical deceit, Kurdish people have always been considered like a threat to the national integrity of territories they would live in. In 1978, Adbullah Ocalan established the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, of obedience Marxist and Leninist, and decided 6 years later to engage in an armed conflict with the Turkish State with the aim of forming an Independent Kurdish State. Since 1984 and then, the Turkish government and the PKK have thus been maintaining a bloody conflict which killed over 40,000 people.
After several attempts of ceasefire, it is only in 2012 that for the first time real perspectives of peace, without recourse to military solution, were envisaged by both parties to the conflict.

To our greatest hardship, while the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was still confessing some months ago that he was “ready to drink poison” to bring these tensions to an end, these twin bombs came to make both camps lose their forlorn hope in a possible peace.

No responsibility has yet been claimed, but different opinions already emerged to speculate on the origin of this attack. On the one hand, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli stated that the attacks bore a resemblance to the explosion in Suruç in last July, raising debate on whether the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) could have been responsible. On the other, The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) openly blamed the Turkish state and the government for conducting the attack, accusing the government of collaborating with non-state actors and taking insufficient action to tackle their presence. Finally, the the Minister of Forest and Water Management went so far so as to imply that the HDP had himself purposely organised the attack against their own supporters to raise public sympathy for their party.

The attacks show the way in which Turkey’s involvement in the war in its neighbouring country Syria where it supports the overthrow of the Assad regime and has allowed opposition groups to ferry weapons across the border, has produced repercussions at home.

As you will have understand, as in any other conflict, political ambitions and strategies are obviously at stake when making such blaming statements. The president Mr Erdogan was even accused to have made a pure political calculation when considering of changing the Constitution for the recognition of Kurdish rights against the support of their deputes to reinforce his own presidential powers.

Whatever political strategies it may imply, since this is, in my opinion, inevitable, let us just hope for Turkey to manage to sow divisions and remain united in these tragic times. Hard to set one’s mind on who has the most legitimate nationalist reasons in this conflict, right?

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