Police attack crowds gathered to commemorate victims of 2015 ISIS attack

Tortured youth

Turkish police attacked protestors gathered in İstanbul, Ankara and the southeastern city of Urfa on Monday to commemorate 33 victims of an ISIS suicide attack that took place in the Suruç district of Urfa five years ago.

A commemoration was held in İstanbul with the participation of families of the victims and members of the opposition including Co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Pervin Buldan and the head of the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) İstanbul branch, Canan Kaftancıoğlu. The police dispersed the crowd with rubber bullets, severely injuring several protestors, some of whom were detained. Lawyer Ezgi Önalan, who visited the police station where the detainees were held, was attacked by the police there, and the area around her eyebrow was gashed as a result.

Ferat Boğatekin, another lawyer who was able to meet with the detainees, said his clients were beaten while they were being detained and that he saw lesions and bruising on their bodies.

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 to make a press statement. The city of Kobani was recaptured from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) 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). ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack the next day. Relatives of the victims blamed the police for failing to take the necessary precautions.

Another group that gathered in Ankara to commemorate the victims was first circled by the police, then attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets. The police tried to prevent the press from taking pictures and videos and tore up the signs and photos of the victims.

Similarly, a group that gathered outside of the Amara Cultural Center where the attack took place was also met with police resistance.

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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