İstanbul police detain 106 people commemorating victims of 2015 ISIL massacre

Yasin AKGUL / AFP

Turkish police detained 106 people in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district on Wednesday during a commemoration for the 33 victims of an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide attack that took place in southeastern Turkey seven years ago, Turkish Minute reported on Thursday, citing the İstanbul Governor’s Office.

Police officers closed in around the commemoration attendees, who on Wednesday made a public statement in Kadıköy on the seventh anniversary of the July 20, 2015 attack in the Suruç district of Şanlıurfa province, in an attempt to prevent them from staging a march, according to Turkish media reports.

The İstanbul Governor’s Office said in a written statement released late on Wednesday that 106 people were taken into custody for “resisting the police” and that an investigation had been launched.

Police also intervened in a large number of people gathered in Güvenpark in Ankara’s central Kızılay district for the commemoration, using pepper spray to prevent others from marching towards Güvenpark and detaining many in the process, the ANKA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Another group that wanted to stage a march after making a public statement in the western province of İzmir was also prevented by police, Turkish media reports said.

This year is the seventh anniversary of the Suruç bombings. On July 20, 2015 a group of university students who were traveling to the Syrian town of Kobani (officially known as Ayn-al Arab) on the Turkish border to help with reconstruction efforts gathered outside the Amara Cultural Center in Suruç to make a press statement. The city of Kobani was recaptured from ISIL by a coalition of Kurdish forces supported by the US in January 2015, but it was in ruins as a result of intense fighting.

A suicide bomb that went off during the gathering in front of the cameras claimed the lives of 33 people and injured more than 100. Most of the victims were members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) youth wing and the Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF). ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack the next day. Relatives of the victims blamed the police for failing to take precautions.

The first hearing in the case concerning the attack was held 21 months after the incident, in 2017. Currently, there is only one suspect under arrest, Yakup Şahin, who is also accused of planning a terrorist attack against a large gathering of mainly pro-Kurdish and leftist groups in Ankara on October 10, 2015 that claimed the lives of 109 people.

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