Following a suicide bombing in the nation’s capital, Ankara, thousands took to the streets Sunday to condemn the Islamist government for encouraging the anti-Kurdish hate they believe prompted the worst terrorist attack in Turkey’s history.
Thousands gathered in the heart of Ankara Sunday, chanting slogans such as “Murderer Erdogan” and “Murderer police” while attempting to leave carnations at the site of the bombing in honor of the victims. The protesters believe President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) had a role in encouraging violent elements in Turkey to attack the rival Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), seen as a leftist, pro-Kurdish group.
Police prevented many from leaving carnations at the scene of the bombing, citing the need to continue investigating the site of the crime. The mourners refused to leave, however, and were attacked with tear gas and water cannons.
In addition to violence meant to keep the anti-government protesters in check, people identifying themselves as “mourners” are attacking elsewhere. A group of “mourners” attacked a wedding on Saturday shortly after the attack, accusing the celebration of being insulting to them following the bombing. At least one person was killed after a threat of violence if the wedding did not cease immediately.
Saturday’s bombing targeted a pro-HDP peace rally, calling for an end to violence between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Marxist terrorist group. Reportedly, 14,000 people were in the immediate vicinity of the bombing, and at least 128 have been pronounced dead.
Video of the bombing shows the magnitude of the blast, as well as the density of people in its vicinity. A group of young leftist protesters can be seen waving HDP flags and chanting before the bomb goes off.
“If the AKP does not establish a border between terrorism, then these attacks will go on,” said HDP head Selahttin Demirtas following the attack. “Let’s say that, for example, they have nothing to do with this attack, at least they should resign because they haven’t been able to prevent it. But here no-one resigns.” He told another reporter at the site, where he, too, was prevented from entering, “We are dealing here with a mafioso, murderous and mass murderous state mentality.”
In addition to the HDP, other organizations are protesting the government for failing to prevent the attack. The Turkish Medical Association is planning a two-day strike on Monday and Tuesday in honor of the victims. “We know who the murderers are, they’re the ones who [sic] dreams of dictatorship fell through in the June 7th general elections,” said the head of the Turkish Medical Association, President Bayazit İlhan.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has cited the PKK as a potential perpetrator in the crime, as well as the Islamic State (ISIS) and a number of communist terrorist groups, such as the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), who killed a high-ranking prosecutor earlier this year. In an interview Sunday night, however, Davutoğlu confirmed that he believed ISIS to be the “prime suspect” in the attacks, and affirmed that it was “definitely a suicide bombing.”