Erdogan regime opened door for massacre in Ankara

by John Catalinotto

Unions in Diyarbakir, Turkey, hold general strike and march one day after Oct. 11 massacre.

Unions in Diyarbakir, Turkey, hold general strike and march one day after Oct. 11 massacre.

Oct. 12 — No matter who set off the bombs in Ankara on Oct. 10, the Turkish regime led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is responsible for the explosions that killed more than 128 peace demonstrators and wounded hundreds more in the country’s capital. That is the view of leaders of the leftist People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and other observers.

The two explosions, apparently set off by suicide bombers, went off as tens of thousands of people had gathered for a march, called by the HDP, youth groups and unions. The marchers were demanding that the Erdogan regime conclude a cease-fire and make peace with the guerrilla forces from the Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK). The PKK itself had just declared it would honor a cease-fire if the regime also refrained from attacks.

Demonstrations and marches mourning the dead and vowing to continue the fight have already taken place across Turkey and in many European cities, especially where there are Kurdish immigrants. The DISK and KESK labor union coalitions called for a general strike on Oct. 12 and 13. The target is the regime.

The first reaction of the Turkish police reinforced the argument that the regime was responsible. Just after the explosions, police launched an attack with water cannon, tear gas and clubs on demonstrators who were trying to aid those wounded by the bombs.

HDP and other left spokespeople also accuse the Turkish political police — who are ubiquitous and claim to know every detail of political events inside Turkey — of knowing about this planned bombing and allowing it to happen.

Erdogan’s Justice Party (AKP) government has conducted a long-range strategy with the goal — shared with and encouraged by U.S. imperialism — of overthrowing the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria and establishing a Turkish client state there. To do this, the AKP regime has worked closely, if quietly, with anti-Assad groups similar to al-Qaida and those now known as the Islamic State group.

Besides the Syrian army and Hezbollah from Lebanon, the most effective anti-Islamic State fighters in Syria have been from the PKK and the PKK’s sister organization in the Kurdish regions of north and northeast Syria.

Ankara regime aided Islamic State group

Since the AKP and the Turkish military consider the Kurds to be the biggest threat to Turkish nationalism, they have sided with the Islamic State group against the Kurdish fighters. The Islamic State group and others have been able to move in and out of Turkey, resupplying and resting their fighters. As some HDP spokespeople have said, this strategy has led to “bringing the Syrian war inside Turkey.” (Democracy Now!, Oct. 12)

Following the bombing, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu from the AKP made a 20-minute talk accusing the PKK and revolutionary Turkish groups essentially of bombing themselves; he mentioned the Islamic State group for only a minute.

Recent electoral struggles have also made the Erdogan regime focus its attacks on the HDP as well as on the PKK and Kurds in general. Erdogan had schemed before last June’s national election for his ruling Justice Party to increase its majority to 60 percent of the seats in Parliament. This would allow him to change the Turkish Constitution and consolidate his rule by strongly increasing presidential powers.

Instead, the AKP lost 71 seats, winning only a minority — 258 — of the 550 seats. The new leftist/Kurdish coalition party, the HDP, won a surprising 79 seats. By sowing turmoil, the AKP, still the biggest party in parliament, hopes to disrupt the HDP campaign and intimidate the women, workers and youth who voted for HDP.

From its overall strategy against Syria and its narrower focus on the November elections, the AKP as well as the Turkish state — military and army — can logically be held responsible for the massacre of the demonstrators. This is true even if Islamic State suicide bombers carried it out.

U.S. imperialism also shares responsibility because of its decades-long strategy in the West Asian region of sowing religious and civil war in order to weaken any sovereign states. Washington has done this even though it resulted in creating and strengthening the Islamic State group and related forces that are incompatible with establishing a stable puppet regime. While this strategy has brought no clear victory for imperialism, it has created havoc and misery for the people there.


Habitual hospital bombers

Doctors Without Borders staff members at the hospital in Kunduz destroyed by a U.S. military bombardment.Photo: Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders staff members at the hospital in Kunduz destroyed by a U.S. military bombardment. Photo: Doctors Without Borders

A fluke or a war crime?

U.S. warplanes bombed and destroyed a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières/MSF) in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on Oct. 3. For 65 minutes, an AC-130U gunship circled the hospital, aiming cannon fire and incendiary munitions at its main building, housing the intensive care unit and operating and emergency rooms.

Some 180 patients and staff were inside. At least 12 MSF personnel and 10 patients, all Afghans, were killed; some burned to death. Another 37 were wounded; 33 are still missing as of Oct. 12.

To prevent such an attack, hospital staff had repeatedly reported their GPS coordinates to U.S., NATO and Afghan forces. During the bombing, MSF officials called U.S. officials in Kabul and Washington, including the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, pleading for them to stop the airstrikes. But the strikes continued for another 30 minutes.

Consequently, MSF left Kunduz. Northern Afghanistan is now without a trauma center to treat war injuries. The aid organization charges the U.S. with committing a war crime in violation of basic human rights, and humanitarian and international law. MSF asserts the bombing was an attack on the Geneva Conventions, which protect civilians, including medical workers, and prohibit bombings of hospitals in war zones. The U.S. ratified these principles in 1955.

Hearing a global outcry, the Pentagon changed its story four times. It kept insisting the airstrikes were “accidental.” Now Gen. John Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, admits the lethal assault was the result of a “U.S. decision made within the U.S. chain of command.” So far the military refuses to provide details.

In a rare wartime act, President Barack Obama apologized to MFS. The Pentagon has even offered compensation to victims’ families. This falls far short of earning a pardon for such a heinous crime.

MSF strongly repudiates the investigations set up by the U.S., NATO and Afghanistan, and is demanding an independent fact-finding probe of the bombing, under a body set up under Geneva Convention protocols.

After 14 years of occupying Afghanistan, the imperialists are still losing. In their desperation, the U.S. ruling class and its NATO allies are ready to commit any crime, violate any international treaty, flout human rights and disregard human life. It’s their standard behavior in the quest for super-profits.

Bombing hospitals – nothing new for U.S.

U.S. imperialism is a repeat war crime offender, with a long, sordid history of bombing hospitals and killing injured civilians and medical personnel. These were no accidents. They were acts aimed at terrorizing populations and forcing governments to submit. The record speaks for itself.

During the 1950s’ U.S. war on north Korea, U.S. warplanes bombed hundreds of hospitals. Pentagon B-52 bombers obliterated Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, the largest medical facility in North Vietnam, during the “Christmas bombings” in December 1972.

In Mogadishu, Somalia, a U.N. “peacekeeping force” from Turkey and the U.S. bombed a Digfer hospital in 1993.

When the U.S. and NATO waged war to dismantle Yugoslavia, NATO launched cruise missiles against a Belgrade hospital and dropped cluster bombs on a Nis hospital in May 1999 — and bombed four other hospitals.

The U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, ostensibly to pursue Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. U.S. warplanes then bombed at least six hospitals and clinics in Kabul, Kandahar and elsewhere. In a stunning blow, U.S. planes even dropped a 1,000-pound cluster bomb on a hospital in Herat.

In the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign against Iraq, Pentagon aircraft bombed a Red Crescent maternity hospital in Baghdad, killing and wounding medics and patients. A year later in Fallujah, U.S. rockets razed the newly built Hai Nazal hospital. U.S. bombs killed 63 staff and patients at the Fallujah Central Health Clinic.

With much international support, Doctors Without Borders continues to demand truth and accountability from the Pentagon and Obama administration.

More must be done. The filthy-rich U.S. ruling class must pay reparations for its war crimes!