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Turkish police forcibly intervene in commemoration of Suruç massacre victims

Protesters clash with police officers during a rally, in the Kadıköy district, in İstanbul, on July 20, 2021, called to mark on the anniversary of the 2015 suicide attack that took place in the southern Turkish town of Suruç. Leftist youth gathered to protest as they mark the anniversary of a suicide bomb attacks which killed 33 people in Suruç, where activists had gathered to prepare for an aid mission to the nearby Syrian town of Kobani. It was one of the deadliest attacks in Turkey in recent years, and, the first time the government has directly accused the Islamic State group of carrying out an act of terror on Turkish soil. BULENT KILIC / AFP

Turkish police on Tuesday used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse a group commemorating the victims of an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide attack in the Suruç district of Şanlıurfa province six years ago, using disproportionate force to detain a number of demonstrators, according to local media reports.

Lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Züleyha Gülüm and Dilşat Canbaz, the party’s İstanbul provincial co-chair Erdal Avcı, the leftist Labor Party (EMEP) leader Ercüment Akdeniz and many nongovernmental organization members were among the protestors, who on Tuesday gathered in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district, in addition to family members of the victims.

The protesters made a statement, saying an effective investigation wasn’t carried out to find perpetrators of the 2015 bombing and that none of the victims’ family members’ requests were taken into account as part of the case filed after the deadly attack.

The demonstrators also chanted “Don’t forget Suruç, don’t let it be forgotten,” “Justice for Suruç” and “Shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism,” attracting warnings from the police for chanting slogans that “include the elements of a crime,” Turkish media said.

Police officers used rubber bullets and tear gas to prevent the group from marching after releasing their statement. Photos published by local and international news agencies showed many protestors who were being detained by police with blood on their faces.

Out of 62 protesters who were detained for attending Tuesday’s commemoration, 50 were released, while the remainder are expected to appear in court, local media reports said on Wednesday.

Police officers also used disproportionate force on press members covering the events, local media said. Fatoş Erdoğan, a journalist from the Dokuz8 news website, suffered injuries to her arm, the Birgün daily reported on Tuesday.

Thirty-three people were killed and more than 100 others were injured when an ISIL suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Amara Culture Center in Suruç on July 20, 2015. The explosion occurred while a group of university students was releasing a press statement on their planned trip to the Syrian town of Kobani on the Turkish border to help with reconstruction efforts. The city, which was recaptured from ISIL by a coalition of Kurdish forces supported by the US in January 2015, was in ruins as a result of intense fighting.

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