Police break up commemoration for victims of Ankara train station bombing, detain 20

Photo By: ANKA

Turkish police on Monday dispersed a crowd that had gathered in Ankara’s Tandoğan Square to commemorate the victims of a 2015 terrorist attack near the capital’s train station, also detaining 20 people, the Bianet news website reported.

A group including relatives of the victims gathered in front of the subway station in Ulus, intending to march to the train station to commemorate the victims. The whole group, who wanted to walk together, were warned by the police that only family members of the victims could march to the spot where the bomb attack took place, but the crowd insisted on going there as a group.

The police then deployed pepper spray to disperse the group and detained 20 participants.

The suicide bombings on October 10, 2015 at the Ankara train station were the deadliest Turkey has ever experienced. The blasts took place near the city’s central train station as people from mainly leftist and pro-Kurdish groups gathered to stage a demonstration demanding peace and an end to the ongoing conflict between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish government.

Two explosions went off as people were congregating in the square, killing more than 100 and injuring some 400.

“They are not even letting us commemorate the victims of October 10 at the scene, while our friends are beaten by the police. At least 20 people are in custody and are being treated badly,” said Mehtap Sakinci Coşgun, head of the October 10 Association.

The police took heightened security measures on the streets leading to the train station ahead of the commemoration, held by relatives of the victims and several civil society organization representatives who were carrying photographs of the victims.

The names of the 103 people killed in the attack were read out loud, and a moment of silence was observed at 10:04 a.m., the exact time that the suicide bombers detonated their explosives.

The last hearing in a trial of suspects took place on August 3, 2018, with 19 people handed down prison sentences ranging from seven years to aggravated life.

Government officials said the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was responsible for the bombings, but victims’ families demanded to know if the attack could have been prevented by the authorities.

Emin Koramaz, board chairman of the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects Chambers (TMMOB), delivered a speech during the ceremony and said, “We held a design competition to build a monument in the square, but the Ankara governor wouldn’t even tolerate the ‘trees of mourning’ we planted last year.”

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu tweeted: “I remember with deep sorrow our compatriots whom we lost in the massacre of October 10 in Ankara. We feel the pain in our hearts now as we did then, and I again condemn terrorism and its collaborators. Maintaining peace and tranquility in our country is our debt to our citizens who were murdered at the Ankara Train Station!”

A report drafted by the Interior Ministry had found that some public officials bore some responsibility for the incident. According to the report, which was leaked to the media, intelligence that ISIL might stage an attack on gatherings by leftist and Kurdish groups in Ankara and other cities had been conveyed to the police. Moreover, the names of the train station bombers had also been mentioned several times in these intelligence notices. This information, however, had not been taken into consideration by law enforcement.

Despite demands from the victims’ lawyers, the parties who failed to heed the intelligence warning have not been brought to justice.

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