MORE THAN 10,000 people took to the streets of London on Sunday 11th October, mainly from London’s Turkish and Kurdish communities, to express shock and outrage at the bombing of an anti-government peace demonstration in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Saturday.
The bombing in Ankara killed 128 people and injured more than 200 – some very seriously. No organisation has claimed responsibility for the two blasts but the progressive Turkish and Kurdish communities are certain that the government of the AKP (Justice and Development Party), led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is directly or indirectly responsible.
They accuse Erdogan of playing a two-faced game allowing Al Qaeda, ISIS and other anti-Assad forces to cross the Turkish border into Syria while at the same time, like the United States government, pretending to oppose ISIS.
Erdogan has used the conflict as an excuse to launch a new military offensive against the Kurdish community in Turkey and those just across the border in northern Syria, where the Kurds have been battling for their lives against ISIS.
Publicly Erdogan has dismissed both ISIS and the Kurdish fighters as “terrorists”.
The recent Russian interventions against ISIS in co-ordination with the Syrian government forces have been very successful and shown up the hypocrisy of both Erdogan and Washington for their failure to deal with ISIS, and undermined Erdogan’s support within Turkey.
Saturday’s peace march in Ankara was a huge rally to demand that Erdogan’s AKP stop its covert support for ISIS and Turkish air force attacks on the Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.
The bombing of that march of unarmed civilians has shocked the world and led to a much bigger and angrier demonstration against Erdogan and the AKP in Ankara the next day by people who refused to be intimidated by the bloodshed.
Sunday’s hastily organised protest in London mirrored that demonstration and was also supported by London Stop the War and by the RMT union.
The protest had been called for Trafalgar Square but that was already pre-booked for a huge Indian celebration of Diwali so the Turkish atrocity protest assembled in Whitehall opposite Downing Street. It soon became evident that there was nowhere near enough space there to accommodate the huge numbers turning up, so the organisers led a spontaneous march to the BBC headquarters at the top of Regent Street.
Steve Hedley, representing the RMT, made a powerful speech calling for unity and solidarity between unions in Britain and Turkey, to stand together with a message for Erdogan: “You can bomb, you can burn and you can injure but you cannot win.”