Bombs shatter lives, hopes across country
REUTERS photoThe most deadly terror attacks in Turkey’s history on Oct. 10 have plunged the nation into deep shock and mourning, after twin bombs claimed the lives of almost 100 people, each with unique personal stories that ended tragically in an Ankara square while calling for peace.
Although the official death toll was 95 as of late Oct. 11, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) claimed it was 128, with fears that it could further increase given the number of seriously wounded still under intensive care in Ankara hospitals.
The bodies of around 70 victims of the deadly blasts were handed to their families on Oct. 10 after the completion of autopsy procedures in tears and amid clamors of their beloved.
One of them was 70-year-old Meryem Bulut, or Mother Meryem, a member of the famous Saturday Mothers group, who have protested the disappearance of their loved ones, mostly sons, through silent sit-ins at Galatasaray Square in downtown Istanbul since 1995.
Mother Meryem’s death created heartbreak even in the hearts of those who had never met her, as her always smiling pictures were posted widely on social media after the deadly blast. Another family anecdote completes the picture: Mother Meryem’s grandson, Onur Polat, was killed in Shingal in northern Iraq while fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The 54-year-old Kemal Tayfun Benol is another whose life was ended in Ankara. Travelling to Ankara from Istanbul with his lawyer wife and two sons, Benol was caught by the explosions as he left his family’s side to meet his friends from the trade union. With Picasso’s famous Guernica painting as his Twitter profile, the scene in which Benol lost his life on Oct. 10 bore chilling similarities to the massacre depicted by the legendary Spanish artist decades ago.
Last selfie before massacre
Another victim of the twin explosions in Ankara was Dijle Deli, a university student from Istanbul. Deli hit the road to Ankara late Oct. 9 with her friends, full of joy, singing and chanting. Shared widely on social media after the blast was a selfie she took with friends on the road from Istanbul to Ankara along with the caption: “We are going to Ankara to bring peace.”
As from Istanbul, there was heavy participation in the meeting from Mersin, a southern city on the Mediterranean coast, with many tragic stories hitting the Turkish media.
Newly-married couple Yılmaz Elmascan and Gülhan Karlı Elmascan went to death together along with their friends from the United Trade Union of Transportation Workers. Şebnem Yurtman, a member of the Labor Party; Hacı Mehmet Şah from the HDP; and Metin Peşmen, a member of the Pir Sultan Abdal Foundation, were among deaths from Mersin.
The Çevik family’s grievous pain
Five of the victims are from the Central Anatolian town of Malatya, all members of the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) youth branches. Eren Akın, Gülbahar Aydeniz, Onur Tan, Kasım Otur and Canberk Bakış were in Ankara on Oct. 10 to call for peace. The fate of nine other members of the same group is still unknown.
One family experienced particularly grievous pain, after parents Sidar Çevik and Nurgül Çevik escaped the explosions while their only daughter, Sidar Çevik, lost her life in front of their eyes.
Meanwhile, Dilek Tan, a local politician from the ranks of the CHP in Kocaeli, lost her three family relatives in the explosion. She lost her cousins, Sarıgül Tüylü, a housewife, and Onur and Umut Tan, university students.
Metin Kürkçü joined the march from Amasya and died in the bombings on his 54th birthday.
Sezen Vurmaz, 52, and her high-school student daughter, Özden Vurmaz, were also in front of the train station when the blasts happened after arriving in Ankara to meet the former’s brother, who works as a doctor in Ankara.