Strikes and protests gripped Turkey on Monday and Tuesday of this week in response to the bombing of a peace march last Saturday—and the government’s attempts to deflect blame.
Two bombs exploded at the peace demonstration in the capital Ankara last Saturday. At least 128 people died and more than 250 were injured.
Ministers blamed Isis, but people across Turkey are outraged at the state and the government, whom many blame for the violence.
Police fired teargas at survivors after the attack. And the state blocked Twitter and Facebook.
The same four left wing union federations that called the original march asked people to show their outrage.
Ron Margulies is from the DSIP socialist group in Istanbul. He told Socialist Worker, “There have been marches and widespread workplace protests—a few strikes, many other lunchtime activities and press conferences outside workplaces.
“It’s important to understand that both the bombed demo and the protests since are supported way beyond the Kurds.”
In last June’s election the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) won 13 percent of the vote. It passed the 10 percent threshold needed to enter parliament and now has 80 MPs. It’s the first time that any Kurdish party has passed the threshold.
It was a huge breakthrough, going beyond simple nationalism to unite sections of the left with the Kurdish movement.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party lost its majority and has been unable to form a government. It has called new elections for November.
It is in this context that its renewal of the war on the Kurds and the cranking up of tension must be seen.
The AKP has joined the US in attacking Isis, but it has combined this with a renewal of its long-standing war on the Kurds.
It hopes that the stepping up of the violence will break people who aren’t Kurds from supporting the HDP and rebuild AKP’s base.
Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu gave a list of organisations that might have carried out the bombing, including Isis, the PKK and leftist organisations.
HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas said the prime minister is “implying that the HDP bombed its own rallies and killed people to gain sympathy and votes.”
Ron said, “It’s difficult to say what the effect on the election will be.
“Voters are polarised, and they don’t switch very easily in response to current events.
“But it seems clear that the AKP will again fail to get enough MPs to form a government. It may even lose a few percentage points.
“And the HDP will stay above the 10 percent threshold to get seats.”
Solidarity protests held
Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in marches across Turkey.
Arife Kose in Ankara said, “The anger on the protests is so big. We’re demanding that the interior minister resigns. Perhaps the actual killer was in Isis, but the political responsibility belongs to the government.
“From tomorrow we’ll continue our election campaign called Vote to Hope. They won’t terrorise us off the streets.”
Outrage at the bombings led to solidarity protests being called in a number of countries.
In London over a thousand marched in north of the city and thousands protested at the Turkish embassy.
More than 4,000 people including many left groups and trade unionists marched to the Turkish embassy in the Greek capital, Athens, on Monday.