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TURKISH police clashed with protesters today, blocking a demonstration to mark World Peace Day as flowers were laid at Ankara train station in memory of the 109 people killed in a 2015 Isis bomb attack.
Authorities banned a planned vigil, organised by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the October 10 Memorial Committee, citing coronavirus restrictions, despite allowing a mass rally attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to go ahead the previous day.
Parliamentarians from the HDP were permitted to lay carnations in memory of those killed in the attack, but a planned “peace chain” was blocked by police while journalists were prevented from covering the event.
Speaking at a press conference in the Turkish capital, Filiz Kerestecioglu, HDP MP for Ankara, said of the bomb attack that it was to the “shame of the state that so many people were slaughtered in the middle of the capital city in front of that train station.”
She slammed the police for attacking the demonstration, explaining that a 65-year-old party member had been injured.
“We are living under fascism. We know that the pawns of this tyrant government will not last forever. [But] we don’t have guns or batons as they do. The police are hitting people with their police radios,” the MP said.
President Erdogan has struggled to shake off allegations of involvement in Turkey’s deadliest terror attack.
Just three days after the blast, a document purporting to be a European Union intelligence report was allegedly circulated as an urgent, classified briefing note stating: “Given the circumstances (arriving buses with demonstrators not searched, police almost absent at the huge demonstration), there is reason to believe that in this case, forces within the [ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP commissioned the Da’esh operatives.”
The claims were fuelled last year by former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who implied that senior figures from the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) were responsible for the bombings.
Relatives of the victims and survivors filed a criminal complaint against Mr Davutoglu earlier this year while the HDP demanded a parliamentary inquiry into his remarks.
Meanwhile, HDP Ankara co-chair Pakize Sinemillioglu said that the party had been under pressure from the police over the planned event for a long time.
“They attacked us viciously while we were waiting at the train station,” she said.
“It is a shame that the members of a party that gets the votes of millions of people are attacked … Everyone will need justice and peace one day. These people will go. We are here to stay.”
Ms Kerestecioglu confirmed that the HDP would file a criminal complaint against the police.
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