Police in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara intervened on Monday to break up a gathering commemorating the victims of the country’s deadliest ever bombing attack on 10 October 2015, Duvar newspaper reported.
Activists and relatives of the deceased had called for the gathering to be held at the city’s central train station, where the two bombs in the suspected Islamic State (ISIS) attack were detonated.
But the police blocked the entrances to the station and intervened to break up the gathering, arresting 20 people in the process.
On 10 October 2015, at least 104 people were killed, and more than 500 were injured in the suicide attacks at the ‘Labour, Peace, Democracy Meeting’ held in Ankara.
Despite reports of suspected negligence among responsible public officials, who allegedly failed to take precautionary measures or warn the public after receiving intelligence warning of an attack, no officials were prosecuted or dismissed in the attack’s aftermath.
In 2019, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported it had accessed documents showing how intelligence officials had received a tip-off from a fertiliser dealer about a suspicious attempted purchase of ammonium nitrate, a substance used to make explosives, 11 days before the massacre.
The buyer was later identified through camera footage as Yakup Şahin, one of the suspects in the 10 October case who is believed to have escorted the suicide bombers to Ankara, Cumhuriyet said.
But the Counter-Terrorism Department took no action despite receiving a report about the suspicious purchase eight days before the bombing, according to the newspaper.
Moreover, Cumhuriyet’s report said, the documents related to these events were kept from the court investigating the massacre for more than a year.
In 2017, during preliminary investigations into the massacre, Cumhuriyet reported the discovery that Turkish intelligence had received 62 notes about potential suicide attacks between 1 January and 10 October 2016.
In another worrying twist, it came out that Yunus Emre Alagöz, one of the bombers, was not only on the police’s list of potential terrorists, but was also the brother of Sheikh Abdurrahman Alagöz, who had killed 33 people in another bombing attack in Suruç on 20 September 2015.
Despite the mounting evidence of threats when the 10 October rally took place, witnesses say the police in Ankara were lax in their security measures, leaving search points unmanned and failing to warn organisers of any danger.
The first hearing of the case regarding the massacre was held one year after the explosions at the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court. The trial of 36 defendants, 17 of whom were tried in absentia, was concluded in August 2018. A total of nine defendants were given aggravated life sentences.
The trial against the 17 fugitive suspects is still ongoing. In the last hearing held on 6 October, the court rejected a request for intelligence reports regarding the incident to be presented and adjourned until 27 December 2022.
On Monday, the victims of the 10 October massacre were also commemorated in Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Izmir, Urfa, Hatay, Adana, Malatya, Ağrı, Iğdır and Batman with large-scale participation despite police blockades.
Çağlayan Bozacı, who lost his father in the massacre, was detained for his speech at the event in Rize. Bozacı had also been arrested last year for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his commemoration speech.
At the commemoration in Ankara, Ayşegül Duman, a teacher who survived the massacre with grave injuries, asked, “Why can’t a monument be built in an area where the country’s biggest massacre has taken place after seven years?”
Mehtap Sakinci Coşgun, Chair of the 10 October Peace Association, said the group would, “continue to call for justice until the real perpetrators are prosecuted. We will be here on the 10th of every month until a monument arrives here.”
Several political parties and politicians also shared their messages about the massacre on social media.
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said, “It is our duty to ensure peace and tranquillity in our country for our citizens who were murdered at Ankara Train Station.”
Future Party Chairman Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was the Prime Minister of the time, also posted a message on his Twitter account. “Those who attack our unity and solidarity will never achieve their goals!” he said.
Ankara Garı katliamının yıl dönümünde DEAŞ'ın hain terör saldırısında yaşamını yitiren vatandaşlarımızı rahmetle anıyorum.
Birliğimize, beraberliğimize kast edenler hiçbir zaman amaçlarına ulaşamayacak!
— Ahmet Davutoğlu (@Ahmet_Davutoglu) October 10, 2022
The 10 October Ankara Massacre Lawyer Commission responded to Davutoğlu’s message with a call to “tell us what you know about the massacre”.
Oyların arttığını müjdeleyen, canlı bombaları kendilerini patlatmadan yakalayamayacağını söyleyen Davutoğlu, ortaklarıyla arasını bozduktan sonra o dönemin "sırlarını" siyasi çıkar için sopa gibi gösterdi. Hakkında suç duyurusunda bulunduk, Ankara Savcılığına bildiklerini anlat! https://t.co/pYPJUZHig9
— 10 Ekim Ankara Katliamı Davası (@10EkimDavasi) October 10, 2022
Davutoğlu had remarked while prime minister that the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) polling had improved after the attack. Later, after leaving the party, he made headlines for vague remarks which appeared to hint at state involvement in the bombing attacks of that period.