Activists in London staged a big protest march against the shocking bomb attack on an Ankara peace rally. Chris Nineham reports and looks at the background
There was a powerful response in London on Sunday to the dreadful bombings in Ankara on Saturday. Thousands turned out to protest opposite Downing Street before setting off on a spontaneous march through central London. The protesters, most from Kurdish leftist organisations, were shocked at the barbarity of the attack on the peace march in Turkey's capital, which left at least 128 people dead.
It was the worst such attack in Turkey's history and follows the killing of 32 pro-Kurdish youth activists in Suruc in June.
There was also tremendous anger at the protest which was joined by trade unionists from Unison, the NUT and the RMT, activists from Stop the War, Tamil Solidarity and various left groups. There was widespread belief that the attack was either facilitated or orchestrated by the AKP government in Turkey. As speakers said, the only activists that have been killed in terrorist attacks have been those on the left, often from the HDP party, which supports the Kurds and opposes the government.
Most understood the bombing to be part of a strategy of tension by the government in the run-up to the elections due on 1 November in Turkey. Shaken by a poor result in the June elections, in which the left-wing HDP (Democratic People's Party) got a big vote, activists believe the government wants to portray society as being on the brink of chaos, and blame left groups and Kurdish organisations for this situation.
The government has launched a new war against the Kurds, bombing camps, arresting activists and laying siege to whole communities and the main Kurdish areas in South Eastern Turkey.
It was appropriate that the protest took place outside Downing Street, because the crisis in Turkey is partly the product of the Western involvement in the region. Britain and its allies routinely provide Erdogan with diplomatic and military support, but crucially, over the summer, Nato green-lighted Turkish attacks on Kurdish organisations in Syria as part of a deal to draw Turkey into the war against Isis.
As the British government pushes for more bombing of Syria, we face the prospect of an internationalised war in Syria, which has the potential amongst many other disasters, to tear Turkey apart.
Solidarity with the Kurds and the left in Turkey, and opposition to more Western intervention in the Middle East, are both matters of urgency.
Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.
More articles from this author
- Brighton 2021: Members speak out on Starmer, stitch ups and next steps for the left
- 'On the road to nowhere': Leah Levane on Labour, Starmer and the expulsions - video
- 'We need to move fast': Ken Loach on Starmer, socialism and building a new left - interview
- Gas and greed: Why Britain faces a special crisis
- Aukus: ratcheting up Western confrontation with China - video
- The tragedy after the tragedy: 9/11 and the war on Afghanistan
- Back to the future: revolutionary art on the Mersey