What does the hollow, flimsy memorial made of tin tell us?
It is not easy for someone passing by the old train station in Ankara to notice the tinny “thing” that looks more like a store sign, and even if you do notice it, it is difficult to make sense of the so-called “memorial” with its many pictures of people and the image of a dove on it.
It is not easy to grasp that the thing with the photos of 103 people on it is a memorial to commemorate people who lost their lives in a massacre perpetrated by ISIS in the same place on October 10, 2015, because of the lack of any precautions, not to mention the removal of the existing ones.
Of course, this plain tin plate erected in memory of 103 people can be seen from another perspective as Turkey's most striking monument, especially considering that it became a target of attack as well...
In the bloodiest terrorist attack in Turkey's history, 103 civilians, including children, belonging to various political parties, trade unions, non-governmental organizations and professions and coming from across the country, were massacred. To commemorate this horrific massacre, a sheet metal "memorial" was erected that is so flimsy and sloppy that a careful observer or even a curious child may fail to notice it.
This is not to say that there have been no attempts to create monuments in the meantime to make the massacre memorable.
At the request of the families who lost their loved ones in the massacre, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK), the Confederation of Public Employees' Unions of Turkey (KESK), the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and 10 Ekim-Der, the association founded after the massacre in solidarity for the families of the victims, held a competition for a memorial in 2019. The competition, which closed in March 2020, was won by the idea of a memorial with 103 trees, with their trunks encircled by bronze pillars. The Ankara Municipality supported the project and provided the trees. However, according to the report by Serkan Alan of the Gazete Duvar, the Monument Protection Authority did not approve the monument because it would obscure the silhouette of the Ankara Train Station!
Is it not dismaying enough that this obstruction by the Conservation Board has not even been raised on the agenda by the opposition? Indeed, just looking at the history of the "memorial" rather than the court process regarding the October 10 train station massacre and the related attitude of the government and law enforcement, gives us enough information about the overall view.
Nevertheless, let us recall the assessment of Kâzim Bayraktar, one of the lawyers in the case, as it is a striking summary of the judicial process:
"Investigations into the October 10 and other massacres perpetrated by ISIS have always been flawed. Many events and contexts, as well as their written and visual evidence, were not included in the indictments. For example, after the massacres in Diyarbakir on June 5 and in Suruc on July 20, it was revealed with conclusive evidence that surveillance of the perpetrators of the October 10 massacre continued and that they could have been caught at any time but were not. The state had tracked and recorded them with one hand and kept the perpetrators' paths open with the other. However, the state bureaucracy and the officials in charge of security, appointed by the political power that governs them, cannot succeed without giving away their game in one way or another. What one tries to conceal is revealed in another unit of the bureaucracy."
Indeed, it is possible to draw a picture of the organization behind the massacre by looking only at the "flaws" mentioned by Bayraktar.
While the "sloppy" behavior of the Judicial Committee and the administration in such a case is in itself a source of great outrage, the fact that the case of the October 10 massacre has not been sufficiently taken up by the social opposition and that the necessary struggle to reach the real perpetrators and organizers has not been waged in this case is striking in terms of revealing the misery into which Turkish society has been dragged.
In fact, on October 10, not only those who had come to Ankara to demand peace were attacked, but also everyone else.
On that day, the largest "unsolved" mass massacre in Turkey's history was carried out. The massacre, which paralyzed the opposition preparing for the November 1 elections and left society in a state of shock, was like the final scene of the chaos that was created after the June 7, 2015 elections.
Although a handful of ISIS militants have been identified as perpetrators, lawyers who have followed the case of the massacre and those who lost their loved ones are unanimous in their opinion that this massacre was politically motivated with grand objectives and that it was never subjected to a proper investigation.
Due to strong pressure from the government, it was not possible to trace the organizational structure and identify the real perpetrators.
Yet, in fact, everyone knows everything.
The person who knows best must be Ahmet Davutoglu, who at the time was in charge of the security apparatus as prime minister of the interim government and who, while the scattered body parts were still being collected, commissioned opinion polls on how much the massacre had boosted his votes.
Even though he seems to be opposing the AKP today, accepting Davutoglu as an opponent is in itself a problem as long as he does not address the period between June 7 and Nov. 1 and, in particular, the Oct. 10 massacre. Nevertheless, the CHP which lost 11 members of its youth organization in Malatya in the Oct. 10 massacre and its leader Kilicdaroglu have already made peace with Davutoglu.
The fact that a "reconciliation" can be made so easily not only creates a new shield of impunity for the perpetrators of past crimes, but also creates a huge space of confidence for those who today commit all kinds of crimes in the name of power. Those who today do all kinds of things in the name of power do not deviate from their current path because they know that if they spin the wheel tomorrow, they will not be overthrown and will be readily reconciled.
Therefore, as long as the memory of 103 people who were massacred because they called for peace continues to be symbolized by a tin plate, each step towards reconciliation will represent another layer of impunity for the perpetrators.
And yet, precisely for this reason, the "tin memorial" of October 10 has been standing for years as an extraordinary monument that demonstrates the value that the state attaches to its citizens, the government to its opponents, the opposition to its members and society to its individuals, all the while not impairing the silhouette of the Ankara train station.