At least 128 people were killed today when explosions hit a peace rally outside Ankara’s main train station. Members, supporters and friends of Defend International condemned the brutal attacks and expressed solidarity with the civil society at this sad time.
In phone calls with representatives of the civil society in Ankara today, Defend International co-founder Dr. Widad extended condolences to the victims, survivors and their families and friends. She stressed that Defend International stands side by side with the organisations, human rights activists, journalists and intellectuals who were rallying under the banners of peace and reconciliation. Dr. Widad thanked them for reaching out to those who needed help and support.
Commenting on the news that the Turkish Minister of Forestry and Waterworks called the activists “provocateurs” and referred to their peace gathering as a “terrorist demonstration” Peace prize winner said that the victims of Ankara peace rally sacrificed their lives for peace and their only wish was “We Want Peace.”
“We have a message to the Turkish officials: They must stop labeling supporters of peace. ALL the victims and survivors wanted a better future, a peaceful one, without wars, without armed violence. We have to show all of them our deepest respect and admiration.
Today’s attacks are a reminder of the brutal attacks on another peaceful rally in June. Both attacks took place ahead of general elections.
The voices of peace can’t be silenced by bombs, shootings, sieges, brutality or barbarism. Despite the challenges we face as peace-makers in a troubled region, all we want is peace and our campaign #WeWantPeace continues.”
Reports from Turkey indicate that, in the aftermath of the bombings, the loved of the victims were not allowed to lay flowers at the scene of the bombings. They were quickly dispersed by the riot police, and some mourners sustained injuries. The Independent reported that the Turkish police fired tear gas at the mourners laying flowers.
According to the Ministry of Health there was no blood shortage; however, the survivors and their relatives exploded social media with calls for blood donors to help save the lives of the injured. Other reports indicated that the Turkish Interior Minister, Mr. Selami Altınok, had stated that there was no security breach leading to the Saturday’s suicide bombings and refused to take responsibility for the deadliest terror attack in Turkey’s history.
On 12 October 2015, on behalf of Defend International and its “We Want Peace” campaigners, Dr. Widad asked President Barack Obama to urge the Turkish Prime Minister to show respect for the victims of Ankara bombings and declare a ceasefire with the Kurdistan Workers Party, which has already declared a unilateral ceasefire. She has also asked Ms. Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to help end the armed violence between Turkey and the Kurds. The peace prize winner has furthermore called for an impartial investigation by UN inspectors into the suicide bombings and their aftermath as soon as possible.
Photos: © Reuters