Ankara bombing survivors’ search for justice continues four years on

Survivors of a bombing in Ankara that claimed the lives of 103 people four years ago are continuing to demand justice, the Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Wednesday.

Two bombs that went off during a peace rally of pro-Kurdish activists outside Turkish capital Ankara’s main train station on October 10, 2015, killed 103 people and injured some 500 more in Turkey’s deadliest terror attack so far.

The rally was aimed at protesting against the increasing violence between Turkey’s military and the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a militant group that has waged an armed insurgency in Turkey’s southeast since 1984 that Ankara labels as a terrorist organization.

No one has ever claimed responsibility for the bombing that took place five months after the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its super-majority in parliament in the June 7, 2015 elections.

At the same time, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) won seats in parliament for the first time, being able to cross the 10 percent election threshold.

Ilke Isik, one of the lawyers representing Ankara bombing victims who also witnessed the attack herself, spoke to Serkan Alan from Gazete Duvar on Wednesday.

“This case has 16 suspects on the run. They have never been brought before a judge. … During the third hearing of the case, we’ll keep asking how is it that these suspects are still not caught although they had been followed [by Turkish intelligence] within Turkey [prior to the attack.]”

When asked to comment on the past four years after the attack, Isik emphasized that it showed her and the people she represented how valuable the concept of justice is and how much we all need it.

“We said that the biggest slaughter of the country must be solved no matter who did it. We are faced with a judiciary that insistently refused to accept that demand. … It’s not acceptable to turn a deaf ear to such a demand after an attack that killed 103 people. That demand for justice forces us to keep going.”

Gunay Karakus, who survived after losing a leg in the attack, also lost two of her closest friends in the bombing.

Within the past four years, Karakus had a number of operations and received a prosthetic leg that has allowed her to cling to life by way of teaching and holding painting exhibitions.

“I still travel to Istanbul [from time to time] to receive treatment. I’m having problems with my prosthetics. I’ve spent four years suffering from health problems. I could never regain my former quality of life. I can work but I experience physical difficulties,” Karakus explained.

Stating that she strives to adapt to life, Karakus added: “I’m with students [for most of the time], I paint, produce things. It feels good to be around students.”

After losing her daughter Basak Sidar Cevik, and her sister-in-law Nurgul Cevik in the attack, survivor Hatice Cevik ran for Suruc district mayor’s office and won the race on March 31 local government elections to become a co-mayor from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Speaking to Gazete Duvar, Cevik said that running for office helped her to move on.

“It felt like a therapy to be with people [of Suruc] and share their pain. Those people and I cured one another to some extent. But our pain won’t go away until we see those responsible for these attacks facing trial and accounting for their actions,” Cevik confessed.

She referred to the victims of a suicide bombing attack carried out by the Islamic State (ISIS) on July 20, 2015, that killed 33 people and wounded 104 more in Suruc district of the southeastern Sanliurfa province.

The explosion took place while a mainly Kurdish youth group, mostly university students planning to help rebuild neighboring Kobane in Syria, came together for a meeting.

One of the suspects of the Ankara bombing case claimed that police failed to act on an active arrest warrant leaving ISIS member Yunus Durmaz, who allegedly planned the Ankara attack as well as Suruc bombing, free to conduct the massacres.

The lawyers of the Ankara bombing case wanted it to include “public officials,” but the court ignored these requests, and no public officials ever faced trial.

Turkish court refuses to hear ex-PM as witness in case of blasts at HDP rally

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