Oct 26, 2015
This article is from the October 23rd, 2015 edition of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.
The October 10th bombing in front of the Ankara Central railway station caused 99 deaths, according to the official figures, although a medical organization said 128 died. There are an additional 400 wounded, some very seriously. The two suicide bombers who blew themselves up there, in the middle of a dense crowd of demonstrators, carried out a vicious massacre.
The organizers of the October 10th demonstration were trade unions, NGOs, left-wing groups, and the HDP, a pro-Kurdish party, which the Turkish president Erdogan had vowed to destroy after its good results in the June 7th elections prevented his own party, the AKP, from winning an absolute majority. This was not a pacifist demonstration, as the western media has described it, but a demonstration against the war that Erdogan's government has been waging against the Kurdish autonomists of the PKK for the past three months. Organizers had chartered buses to transport people from all across Turkey to this demonstration in the capital.
The government was forced to admit that once again it must attribute the bombings to members of the Islamic State. But ultimately, this boils down to an indictment against itself.
The Turkish government has contributed significantly to the organization of ISIS. It provided ISIS with weapons, training camps in Turkey, and routes to cross the Syrian border in order to combat the government of Bashar al-Assad, whom Erdogan and his Saudi allies had wanted to overthrow in order to install an allied regime. And while today Turkey has officially joined the anti-ISIS coalition, it continues to play a double game.
Many on the left believe that the Turkish military and police, even if they were not directly responsible, were probably aware of the preparation for these attacks. Accordingly, if the police had wanted to prevent them, they had the means to do so.
Erdogan has cynically used these atrocities for his own political purpose. He used them as a pretext to carry out a new war against the “terrorists,” not targeting those who are probably responsible in ISIS, but instead the PKK, putting an end to a truce that had lasted for two years. And since then, all of the actions of Erdogan's government have fed into a real climate of civil war in the country, targeting not the Islamic State, but all those who might have sympathy for the Kurdish cause.
The real reason is that Erdogan and his supporters are afraid and are willing to risk everything in order to stay in power. After years of stability, the economic crisis has finally reached Turkey and has stirred up social discontent, as the labor strikes last spring have shown. In response, Erdogan has chosen to use a strategy of tension, designating the Kurds as the enemy to destroy and searching to fan Turkish nationalism before the new elections scheduled for November 1st.
As soon as news of the bombings became known, many demonstrations broke out across the country, often to the chant of “Erdogan – assassin!” Erdogan himself waited several days before going to the site of the bombing in order to lay flowers and fake some emotion. He decided in the end that not doing so would mean conceding that he was perfectly fine with this tragedy and that this might hurt him in the elections. It is by no means certain that these few flowers will be enough to fool anyone.