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Blame Game Follows Horrific Violence in Eastern Turkey

Ankara, Yuksel street. The toys that were supposed to be sent to Kobane lies on the ground after the terrible attack that killed 32 people in Suruc.

Ankara, Yuksel street. The toys that were supposed to be sent to Kobane lie on the ground after the terrible attack that killed 32 people in Suruc. Photo shared on The Federation of Socialist Youth's Facebook page.

Turkey is recovering from one of the bloodiest suicide attacks in its history after a blast on Monday left 32 people dead and 103 people wounded in Suruc, a small city on the border with the conflict-stricken Syrian town of Kobane. But that hasn't stopped politicians and social media users alike trading bitter invective in the aftermath of the attack.

The bombing, which Turkey's under-fire officials admit is probably the work of the ISIS radical group their harshest critics accuse them of empowering, took place in front of the Amara Cultural Center in Suruc. Many young activists had gathered there to help rebuild the war-torn city of Kobane, which has witnessed fierce fighting between ISIS and Kurdish fighters the Turkish government strongly opposes.

You have sent those big hearted children into coffins while they were only carrying toys for orphans…

The ISIS threat

ISIS has been a controversial topic in the country for some time, with many claiming the government, while accepting thousands of refugees from Syria, has not been doing enough to counter the group's presence on the border with its Kurdish-populated eastern regions. The most critical voices have even said the government is happy for ISIS to grow sufficiently strong so as to counterbalance the potential for an independent Kurdish state in the Middle East.

Cartoon drawn by Carlos Latuff after the Suruc attack.

Cartoon drawn by Carlos Latuff after the Suruc attack. Widely shared.

While non-ISIS links are also being taken into consideration, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday that there was a “high probability” of the group's involvement in the blast and added that the suspected bomber's connections were being investigated.

Meanwhile the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) that upset the dominant Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Davutoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by cruising into the parliament in Turkey's recent general election blamed AKP for the tragedy.

In a statement headed “Damning the Suruc Massacre”, the party blasted:

…IŞİD ve benzeri tecavüz ordularının destek aldığı bütün ülkeler ve rejimleri bu barbarlığın ortağıdırlar. IŞİD'e karşı sus pus olanlar, sesini bile yükseltmeye cesaret edemeyenler, HDP'ye bile her gün tehdit savurup IŞİD'in başını okşayan Ankara'daki yöneticiler bu barbarlığın suç ortağıdırlar…

… Every country and regime that supports ISIS and ISIS-like rape armies are parts of this barbarism. The ones who are silent against ISIS, the ones who do not even have the courage to raise their voices, the executives in Ankara who threaten HDP everyday while caressing ISIS’ head are partners of this barbarism…

The other two of the four parliamentary parties, the Republican People's Party's (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) leaders also made statements regarding the attack.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of CHP, damned attacks on civilians and everyone supporting such actions. Devlet Bahçeli, leader of MHP, made a similar statement, but in true nationalist fashion criticised the people and institutions offering help to the Kurdish-populated town of Kobane.

On social media, ordinary citizens vented against the government:

You declared a mourning day when the Saudi king, whose name we do not even know [died], you declared a mourning day after [former Turkish President] Demirel's death. Here 31 people [later confirmed as 32] have died and you are still silent! #MassacreinSuruc

Summary of the day: It is just like the Sivas Massacre. There, they also said that the attack was against the whole country, and they tried to avoid mention of the real murderers. #MassacreinSuruc

Protests in many cities

The bombing attack targeted activists who had gathered in Suruc at the invitation of The Federation of Socialist Youth (SGDF). After the deadly explosion protests took place in many cities including Istanbul, Ankara, Diyarbakır, and Eskişehir.

The hashtags #SuructaKatliamVar (Massacre in Suruc), #SurucunKatiliniBiliyoruz (We know the murderer of Suruc), and #İyiolmayacağım (I won't be Okay – referring to the social media messages of Loren Elva, one of the victims) have gathered force on social media.

#IWontBeOkay until the real murderers are caught, the people who protect the murderers are punished and until real peace arrives.

Write down the date 20.07.2015. On that day, humanity was massacred in Suruc. #SuructaKatliamVar

Building tensions

The attack took place on the same day as a clash between militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish army, also in the east, which resulted in one soldier dying.

PM Davutoğlu called the soldier a “martyr” and chided that “HDP officials should respond to the PKK attack in the same way they responded to the [Suruç] attack.”

Nationalists relayed the same message only more bluntly:

They are saying there was #MassacreinSuruc. Are these [soldiers] not young people? You [Kurdish separatists] have put off their dreams brutally and celebrated the death of every MARTYR.

On Ekşisözlük, one of Turkey's most widely used interactive forums, one user named “time isnt on my side” sums up the conflicting atmosphere regarding the separate attacks in Turkey:

herkesin karşı tarafa suç attığı, kimin yaptığı belli olmayan patlama. bu ortadoğu denilen yer öyle bir bataklık ki herkes kendinden olmayanı katletme hakkını kendinde buluyor. olan yine gencecik insanlara oluyor…sonra birileri kalkıp ‘ama onlar kürttü’, ‘ama onlar teröristmiş’,… , ‘ama onlar aleviymiş’ vs. şeyler söylemeye başlıyorlar. ölenler insandı, sadece insan! bu kadar zor mu bir insana sadece insan olduğu için değer vermek, sadece en temel hakkı olan yaşama hakkı olduğu için değer vermek bu kadar zor mu… ne için savaşıyoruz? niye dünyayı birbirimize cehenneme çeviriyoruz? niye yani niye? allah kahretsin.

This explosion, which everyone has accused the other of, but for which nobody knows who is responsible. This place called the Middle East, which is such a swamp, in which everyone finds the right to massacre people they believe they do not belong together with. Young people suffer the most… then someone comes along and says things like ‘but they were Kurds’, ‘but they were terrorists’, ‘but they were Alevis’ etc. The people who died were humans, is it this hard to value people only by knowing that they have the fundamental right to life… Why are we fighting? Why are we turning this world into a hell for each other? Why? God damn it.

Against this highly charged background, the victims of the suicide attack were buried Tuesday. The people they left behind are still waiting on more details and information about the attacker.

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