Memorial ceremony held at Ankara train station to mark Human Rights Day

On Oct. 10, 102 people — many of whom were pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) supporters — lost their lives after two suicide bombers detonated explosives in the heart of a peace rally in the single deadliest act of terrorism on Turkish soil, while over 500 people were injured. Those present had gathered to show their support for a peaceful resolution to the increasingly bloody clashes between the Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Relatives of victims wept during the ceremony and sang Kurdish-language lamentations. The group held a banner that read “We know who the murderers are; we won’t let them forget” and left red carnations at the scene. They also held a moment of silence for those who died during the bombings.

Faik Deli, the father of 17-year-old Dicle Deli who was killed in the bombing, told reporters: “[The demonstrators] dreamt of creating an honorable position in society for themselves, a dignified life and a self-respecting society. They came here because they felt that the political mentality ruling the country today did not take responsibility for the country. Yes, this country does not have democracy. This country does not have human rights.”

Deli shared a message that his daughter sent him on the day of the bombings: “My daughter was 17 years old. She sent me this message [before going to the rally]: ‘We’re going to Ankara to bring peace. Those at the top cannot internalize this but they must not forget: This struggle will not end here. This struggle will continue. We’re going to continue where they left off’.”

Human rights group stages demonstration outside Silivri Prison

Also on Thursday, a demonstration was held in İstanbul outside Silivri Prison — where journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul are imprisoned — by the Human Rights Watch and Assessment Center (İHİDEM), whose representatives said in a statement that Turkey is failing to observe its human rights obligations. “Journalists are being arrested, they are being denied accreditation and media outlets are being raided by the police. Boards of trustees have been appointed to take over opposition newspapers and television stations. They are breaking the law as they commit rights violations,” lawyer Murat İncekara told reporters. “Turkey ranks at 149th out of 180 countries in terms of freedom of the press,” he added.

İncekara continued: “There are regular explosions in cities across Turkey, killing many Turkish people, and their murders going unsolved. Police are murdering citizens in broad daylight and even after several days have passed, those responsible are not caught. Today, in cities across Turkey, curfews have been imposed. People are being murdered by snipers on their doorsteps. They are not even able to obtain bread, treatment or vital medicines.”