In one of the bloodiest attacks in Turkey’s recent history, over 100 people died on Saturday after a twin bombing in Turkey’s capital, Ankara. The bombs were set off at a peace rally, and many of the dead are Kurds, who were calling for an end to violence between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
Hours after the bombings, the leader of the PKK released a statement issuing a ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government, but as of Tuesday, airstrikes by Turkish warplanes have not ended.
Bombing Perpetrators Unknown
The target of Saturday’s bombing was a peace rally, organized in part by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP). Early reports from the Turkish government have called the bombings “a suicide attack by the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group.” As of Tuesday, the Islamic State, or ISIS, has not claimed responsibility for the attacks.
In opposition of the government reports, HDP leadership has accused the Turkish government– and specifically the AKP party– for their involvement in the twin bombings. In a statement, the HDP linked the twin bombings to attacks on an HDP rally in Amed (Diyarbakir) on the 5th of June in 2015, in which five died and more than 200 were injured, and the suicide bombing in Suruc on the 20th of July 2015, in which 34 were killed during a press conference by youth from across Turkey in support of Kobani.
PKK Declares Ceasefire
The Turkish government and the PKK have been fighting one another since peace talks broke down in July. Within hours of the bombing, Cemil Bayik, the de-facto leader of the PKK, released a statement declaring a ceasefire between the PKK and Turkey, citing the PKK’s “intention to choose peace over chaos.”
Bayik also addressed the upcoming elections in Turkey, Bayik said that the ceasefire between the Kurdish forces and Turkey was to help the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) win seats in the upcoming elections on November 1st.
November 1st Elections
The HDP needs to receive 10% of the electoral vote in November, otherwise they will lose the parliamentary seats they gained in June’s elections. It is unclear how the violence between the PKK and the Turkish government will affect the Turkish electorate.
The HDP has blamed the systematic oppression of Kurds in Turkey on a desire by the AKP to push the HDP under the 10% electoral threshold in the upcoming elections. Without the HDP in parliament, the AKP would have complete control of parliament, and would be able to set the political agenda without opposition.
The AKP has denied these claims, but some have said that President Erdogan and the AKP government have already lost legitimacy in the eyes of the Turkish public.[Read more at PUK Media]