Two bomb attacks have been organized on Monday, 18th May – just 20 days ago before the national elections– to the offices of HDP, the pro-Kurdish party (Peoples’ Democratic Party) in Adana and Mersin. These are two big cities in Southern Turkey. Three people have been wounded and one of them underwent a surgery. By chance, no one died. The attacks were organized in a professional way. Both bombs were installed in flower baskets and the baskets were sent to HDP party building as “gifts” for the success of the party. Both of them have been exploded almost simultaneously which shows that they were time adjusted. The fact that the bomb put in the HDP party building in Adana has just exploded on the ordinary meeting time of the local election committee provides additional evidence for the “professional” character of the attacks. By change the ordinary meeting had been postponed that day and there were fewer party members in the room where the bomb exploded. Party officials said that many people could have been much more seriously injured and even killed had the bomb exploded during the committee meeting.
The damage caused by the bombs shows that those who have put them in the party buildings have intended to seriously injure and kill some HDP’s members. Another significant fact was that on the day of the explosion, HDP was about to organize a large rally in Mersin.
The choice of the places for the bomb attacks was not accident either. Adana and Mersin are ethnically mixed cities. Their populations are mostly Turks, there are Arab minorities and most importantly a considerable Kurdish population lives in both cities. The Kurds have mostly come from the Kurdish region in the southeast where during 90’s the Turkish army destroyed and burned villages and forced the population to migrate to the west and south of the country. So the Kurds who are mostly sympathetic to the Kurdish Movement constituted large ghettos in Adana and Mersin. Since then a significant ethnic tension has emerged and increased between the local Turks and the newcomers, politically conscious Kurds. Moreover the ultra (Turkish) nationalistic party MHP has also a powerful mass support in Adana and Mersin. This reveals the immediate target of the organizers of the bomb attacks: the Kurds, generally supporters of HDP, would blame the ultra-nationalistic party for the bomb attacks, they would make an assault on the members of this party and those who have been assaulted would retaliate and this process would lead to an internal ethnic conflict.
However this was not a very high probability, since both sides were very much aware that a faction of the “deep state” machinery was eager to draw them into a conflict. “Deep state” is a political expression in Turkey meaning the illegal counter-insurgency branch of the state which is activated when the official policy hardens against radical opposition, such as the Kurdish Movement.
The more probable scenario behind the bomb attacks was to prevent HDP from passing the 10 per cent election threshold, that is, from obtaining 10 per cent of the total votes in the upcoming national election on 7th June. Most of the recent surveys reveal that HDP is just on the fringe and may not pass the election threshold. Indeed whether it will pass the threshold or not will partly depend on those voters who traditionally support the seemingly “leftist”, but indeed statist party CHP and who consider now to vote for HDP in order to prevent R. Tayyip Erdoğan, currently President of the Republic, from being a much empowered “President”. As it’s well known Tayyip Erdoğan aims to change the constitution and establish a “presidential system” –which means a dictatorship in practice– with the support of his party AKP, currently the ruling party.
I’m nearly sure that a portion of those voters who were considering to vote this time for HDP instead of CHP have changed their minds with the bomb attacks. I think they became very much disturbed from the message transmitted by the bomb attacks. The message was that if HDP would become a significant actor in Turkey’s political scene, then a violent internal conflict would be inevitable.
Who to Blame for the Bomb Attacks? T. Erdoğan and AKP? No…
Immediately after the attacks, co-chairs and high ranking representative of HDP have blamed T. Erdoğan and the ruling party AKP for the attacks. The leading figures of PKK (the illegal “Kurdistan Worker’s Party”) have joined them. But is it reasonable to blame T. Erdoğan and AKP for having organized the bomb attacks or somehow involved in this dirty affair?
I don’t think so. In spite of all the dictatorial aspirations of T. Erdoğan and his ruling party AKP, it’s obvious he and AKP don’t and in fact can’t organize violent attacks and can’t control the “deep state” teams who are the usual suspects of the covert operations like the bomb attacks organized a few days ago.
Turkey’s history since the last period of the Ottoman Empire is full of covert operations like genocides, ethnic cleansing, provocations targeting a given religious or ethnical minority or aiming to create a violent conflict among citizens and so forth. This means that even in the most “democratic” period of our history, the state mechanism, especially the military and security forces have not been under the democratic control of the elected governments. I think that this is still true today.
According to the official statements of HDP, Human Rights Organizations (IHD) and independent observers, since 1st February (the official beginning of the election process) there have been about 120 attacks against HDP’s members, volunteers and vehicles during the election campaign. The attacks assumed different forms: fascist and racists groups damaged HDP vehicles, attacked to HDP’s offices and election bureaus and damaged them; in many cases they battered or stabbed party members and administrators to such an extent that in some cases party members have been severely wounded, opened fire to party buildings, set party buildings to fire. In some cases groups of thousands of people surrounded party buildings or members performing a certain electoral activity and attempted to lynch them. In almost every case police forces did nothing but watch the attacks and didn’t take any effective measures to prevent them. They only intervened when there were death risks on the part of HDP’s members.
Moreover these attacks didn’t happen in some particular localities but were very widespread. The attacks took place in 60 different places throughout Turkey except the Kurdish region where HDP has a powerful organization and mass base.
The bombs attacks a few days ago were the last link of these series of attacks but also represented an escalation in the level of the violence. One might reasonably expect that violent attacks against HDP could continue till to the elections day.
Prioritizing the Struggle for Democracy and Peace instead of Electoral Shows
Of course HDP co-chairs, ranking administrators and representatives of the Kurdish Movement are right when they blame the ruling party AKP and the Prime Minister for not having taken effective measures to prevent the organized attacks against HDP and its activists. They are equally right in severely criticizing T. Erdoğan for his provocative and defaming discourse against HDP. In recent weeks T. Erdoğan used to denigrate HDP as the “extension of the terrorist organization” in almost every public speech. Thus he legitimizes and even provokes the fascist attacks against HDP.
However, as every dissent people living in Turkey knows very well, the question at issue has a background much deeper than this. Apart from the fact that the AKP government is turning a blind eye to the attacks against HDP and tolerate them, Turkish security forces have always organized provocations and violent attacks against radical opposition movements and especially against organizations defending the basic rights of the Kurdish population.
So the question can be reduced to the following one: Will a pro-Kurdish legal party be allowed to participate to national elections in a secure environment within the political establishment of Turkey? Shouldn’t the Turkish state machinery be democratized and basic civil rights be guaranteed so that every peaceful political organization may perform its activities?
If this is the case, then, in my view, the leaders of HDP should give priority to the need for a comprehensive democratization instead of holding T. Erdoğan and the governing party AKP directly responsible for the attacks against HDP. Let’s not forget that the same or even worse violent attacks would be organized against HDP if T. Erdoğan and AKP were no more in power.
Nowadays targeting T. Erdoğan and AKP, instead of the oppressive political system in Turkey may seem an efficient way for obtaining more votes. Half of the Turkey’s population already hate them. But this strategy will not get us very far after the elections. The reason is that after the elections we will be forced to face with the very familiar basic questions such as democratization and peaceful solution of the Kurdish question.
ZNetwork is funded solely through the generosity of its readers.Donate