Today marks the eighth anniversary of the ISIS attack on the Ankara Railway Station. The attack targeted people attending a protest in the Turkish capital to demand peace, and it resulted in the loss of 104 lives and left more than 500 individuals injured.
On the anniversary of the attack, a commemoration event was held outside Ankara Train Station with the participation of relatives of those who lost their lives and those injured in the attack, members of the Green Left Party, members of the main opposition CHP parliament, and human rights activists.
,The pro-Kurdish Green Left Party has issued a written commemorative statement, affirming their commitment to pursuing justice against the actual perpetrators, their affiliations, and the political figures responsible for the Ankara massacre of 10 October 2015, calling it a crime against humanity. The statement said, “We solemnly remember the lives lost in this heinous act, and we reaffirm our unwavering dedication to the ideals of Labour, Peace and Democracy, which have been passed down to us by those we lost”.
In July 2015, the Peace Bloc emerged, supported by MPs from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), as well as non-governmental organisations opposed to the Turkish government’s policy of involvement in the war in Syria.
On 10 October, a peace rally was organised with the participation of HDP members including MPs, and many trade unions, charities and platforms. The Labour, Peace and Democracy Rally was attended by people from different provinces of Turkey. But before the rally even started, two explosions occurred three seconds apart at the Tren Garı intersection, where the groups were marching in a cortege to the site of the rally. The police reached the square before the ambulances, and started to remove everyone from the square. Demonstrators who wanted to help the wounded resisted the police, who were preventing them from doing so. The police then intervened using water cannons and pepper gas.
Those who witnessed the explosion reported that, despite the proximity of many hospitals to Ankara Railway Station, ambulances arrived late, and no security measures were taken at the entrance to the site of the rally. Bereaved families lodged criminal complaints against the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Interior, the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT), the General Directorate of Security (national police HQ), and Ankara Directorate of Security (Ankara police HQ). However, to date, the prosecutor’s office has not initiated any investigation into these criminal complaints. Consequently, the only people prosecuted for the massacre are members of ISIS, while the responsibility of public officials and the state’s involvement in the event remains shrouded in secrecy.
After the massacre, a reporter asked the then Interior Minister Selami Altınok whether he intended to resign. His response was, “There are no weak spots in our security”. However, it later emerged that the person who ordered the Ankara attack, İlhami Balı, had previously also ordered a massacre in Suruç, Şanlıurfa (Riha), in July 2015, and also that he had been under police surveillance since 2002.
İlhami Balı had been ISIS’s Turkey agent, and it said in the indictment accepted by the court on 13 July 2016 that he and the other defendants were the same people who had organised the Suruç attack, in which 33 people were killed.
The Supreme Court tried 36 defendants and found 19 guilty. Nine were sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment. In a hearing on 8 September 2023, the court ruled to continue to remand the defendants in custody, and the trial was adjourned to 30 November 2023.