Turkish Twitter users commemorate Ankara train station bombing victims and demand justice

Turkish Twitter users started a hashtag campaign yesterday commemorating the victims of bombings at the Ankara train station 2,000 days after they occurred and demanding that authorities bring the perpetrators to justice.

The hashtag #Adaletsiz2000gün (2,000 days without justice) was shared widely by people asking why no public official had been held responsible for the bombings that shook the nation in 2015.

The Ankara train station bombings that took place on October 10, 2015 were the deadliest ever of their kind in Turkey. The blasts took place near the city’s central train station as people mainly from 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 245. The last hearing in the trial took place on August 3, 2018, with the court sentencing 19 people to prison terms 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 authorities.

There have been claims that the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) had prior knowledge of the attack but did not act on the information. Selahattin Demirtaş, who was the co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) at the time, had said, “This was an attack carried out on the people by the state.”

A report drafted by the Ministry of Interior had found that some public officials had fault in the incident. According to the report, which was leaked to the media, the intelligence that ISIL might stage an attack on certain 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 authorities.

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

İlker Işık, the lawyer for one of the families, said the government had supported the allegations that ISIL was behind the attacks without investigating further wrongdoing. “For them [the government] this is just a massacre carried out by ISIL and nothing more,” she said. “They expect us to believe that justice was served when the 19 suspects were sentenced to prison.”

Claiming this was not enough, Işık said several officials had failed to carry out their duties and prevent the massacre. “Those people need to be held accountable for their dereliction of duty, and as long as our call for a thorough investigation is ignored, we will not accept that justice has been served,” she said.

Sanem Doğanoğlu, another lawyer who spoke to Deutsche Welle Turkish service (DW), said she believed there was negligence in preventing the attack. “In the past five years we saw how easily ISIL has carried out such attacks,” she said. “The police, the governor’s office and the prosecutor’s office are working together in a massive coverup. No one is sharing information, and what is more, they are hiding evidence and information from us.”

Families of the victims said they had spent the last five years seeking justice for their loved ones and that they were unable to go on living as they had in the past.

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