A terror group linked to outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), today claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack that killed 37 people in the capital Ankara, according an online statement dated March 17.
The attack targeting a bus stop in Ankara’s central Kızılay district appears to mark a strategic shift towards a more violent insurgency as Turkey’s government continues to dismantle the Kurdish independence movement’s political arm, including opposition party HDP which gained representation in the 2015 national elections. Once-high hopes for a diplomatic solution to the country’s growing internal conflict, already diminished by the government’s growingly authoritarian crackdowns of freedom of expression and open debate, now seem further away than ever.
The AKP is aiding and abbetting terror organisations by arresting academics for thought crimes and eliminating democracy
Turkish opposition party CHP is amongst those who blame the ruling AKP government for worsening security conditions. Officials recently initiated legal proceedings to hold president Erdogan and others in the leadership to account, although the actions are mostly symbolic due to political immunity for politicians afforded by the constitution.
TAK had previously claimed responsibility for another attack in Ankara, that time on military vehicles in transit, killing 29 people. Attacks on civilians are uncharacteristic for the Kurdish movement, whose campaigns for self-determination have thus far featured themes of peace and reconciliation.
Diplomatic avenues exhausted?
Since mid-2015 Turkey has increasingly applied pressure on peaceful elements of the Kurdish political movement, outlawing peace marches, striking at residential areas in the country’s southeast with military force, and backtracking on hard-earned cultural reforms that saw Kurds and other minorities receive new rights that had been denied for decades. Amongst those targeted recently have been celebrities, the independent press and a group of hundreds of scholars who signed a peace petition.
Whatever the case, with no clear resolution in sight civilian casualties are likely to continue to increase as the war in Turkey’s southeast takes on a disturbing new front in Ankara and Istanbul.