On the seventh anniversary of the biggest terrorist attack in the history of the Turkish Republic, the families of the victims are still seeking justice since none of the public officials who were found in a report drafted by the Interior Ministry to bear some responsibility for the attack have been put on trial, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Monday.
The bombings that took place on Oct. 10, 2015 at the Ankara train station were the deadliest Turkey has ever experienced. The two blasts took place near the city’s central terminal 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 103 and injuring more than 500.
A report drafted by the Interior Ministry had revealed on Feb. 25, 2016 that some public officials bore some responsibility for the incident. According to the report, which was leaked to the media, intelligence that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (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 since the Ankara Governor’s Office had not given permission for an investigation into the public officials, among them several senior staff from the Ankara Police Department. The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office did not object to the governor’s decision, and the case was closed before it could turn into an indictment. Thus, the parties who failed to heed the intelligence warning have not been brought to justice despite demands from the victims’ lawyers, DW said.
The documents that were provided to the prosecutor’s office by an unidentified person one year after a trial of suspects in the attack began in November 2016 also showed that Yakup Şahin, a member of ISIL who brought the suicide bombers to Ankara before the attack, in late September 2015, attempted to buy two tons of chemicals used in bomb-making from a pesticide seller in Gaziantep’s Nizip district. When he was asked for an identity card, he left the shop.
Although the owner of the shop notified the police about the incident and they identified the intended buyer, a detention warrant was not issued for Şahin and therefore he was able to play his part in the attack, according to DW.
The last hearing in the trial took place on Aug. 3, 2018, with the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court handing down prison sentences to 18 people ranging from seven years to aggravated life.
Although government officials said ISIL was responsible for the bombings, victims’ families have demanded to know if the attack could have been prevented by the authorities.
According to a report by the Evrensel daily on Monday, family and friends of the victims and members of several unions and political parties in addition to university students gathered in front of the train station in Ulus to commemorate those killed in the attack and stress that they would continue to fight until all those responsible for the massacre are brought to justice.
Police used pepper spray at the commemoration, which saw the attendance of Mithat Sancar, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Labor Party (EMEP) leader Ercüment Akdeniz and the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (DİSK) Chairperson Arzu Çerkezoğlu, and detained a number of people, most of them university students, Evrensel said.
The Ankara bombings took place in the period between June and November 2015, historically the most critical timeframe of the Turkish Republic that saw a series of terrorist attacks.
Some of the previous remarks of Ahmet Davutoğlu, former Turkish prime minister who parted ways with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and established the Future Party (GP) a few years ago, were interpreted as suggesting that some ruling party politicians had prior knowledge of the attacks or deliberately failed to prevent them so that an environment of chaos would take hold in the country, the public would be frightened and the AKP, which had lost its majority in a general election in June of that year, would be returned to power.
According to observers, that summer diverted public concern from the economy and authoritarian rule to national security, ultimately increasing public support for the AKP in November.
Following the massacre in Ankara, which took place in one of Turkey’s darkest periods, no ministers or public officials were dismissed from the government, DW said.