The massacre of peace protesters in Ankara yesterday by purported unknown terrorists is deeply disturbing. I wanted to join my friends and colleagues in a demonstration at Union Square, but was unable to go. Via Facebook, Zeyno Ustun informed me of the event. She reports this morning in an email: “the protest was just sadness and mourning. We were not angry or reactionary, I think the only form of resistance we have now is collective somber [reflection].”
While I empathize with this mood, I have been frustrated by the reports I have read about the massacre in my usual news sources, as have many of my associates who are from Turkey (Zeyno included) or follow events there carefully. A former student, Solen Sanli made things clear on her Facebook page. I am reproducing her post, with her permission:
“Dear English-speaking FB friends who live in the Western world: It is likely that you’re hearing about the death of 95 people at a PEACE rally in Turkey this morning. I’d like to help you make some sense of all this nonsense because I don’t know how good of a job the Western media is doing. There are mainly 4 things you need to know:
1. AKP, a democratically elected party in 2002 has been losing its total grip on power in the last few years. In June 2015, for the first time in 13 years, they lost an election, i.e. didn’t earn enough vote to form a single-party government, which would have allowed Recep Tayyip Erdogan almost absolute powers.
2. One of the winners of the election has been HDP, the Democratic People’s Party, a pro-Kurdish, pro-peace, pro-women, pro-workers, pro-LGBT political party. In an unprecedented victory, they earned 13% of the people’s vote on a broad-based platform (Turkish, Kurdish and many other ethnic groups voted for them) and gained the right to represent their platform in the parliament.
3. Through some evil maneuvering, AKP managed to completely ignore the results of the June election and decided that the country needed repeat-elections, which were scheduled to take place on Nov. 1. Since June, under the guise of bombing ISIS and with the blessing of the U.S. (which was more than happy to turn a blind eye, in exchange for Turkey’s approval to use the base in Incirlik), AKP has decided to bomb PKK camps, which had been inactive for the last 3 years. Since June, the entire country but especially the Southeast has been under siege and the state has been waging war against its own people.
4. Today’s bombing is the latest in a series of many that have taken place against HDP (a legal, democratic, peaceful political party) and their base. Who are the culprits? If not the government itself, the bombings are surely carried out with the blessing of the government (as evidenced by, among other things, police cleaning the crime scene with pressurized water “to disperse the crowds”). The goal? To make sure HDP loses votes and AKP, and especially Erdogan can have absolute power again. War against one’s own people for the sake of power and money.
I thought you should know.”
PS, Zeyno adds in an email response to the above: “we should add a little update mentioning the countrywide general strike for 12th, 13th of Oct, called by DISK (Confederation of Revolutionist Labour Unions), KESK (Confederation of Public Labour Unions), TMMOB (Federation of Engineers and Architects Associations), TTB (Union of Turkish Physicians) which were organizers of the peace rally. After their statement, several other unions and chambers stated that they will stop work and life for the two days.”