University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Students hold candle-lit vigil for blast victims

Mark Tovey

ByMark Tovey

Oct 19, 2015

Over 100 students gathered in Library Square on 13 October to remember the victims of the Ankara massacre.

Candles were lit amongst photos of those who died in the bomb attacks which struck the Turkish capital on October 10.

It is thought that ninety-seven people died in the blasts and hundreds more were injured.

The attacks targeted a peace rally calling for an end to the renewed conflict between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish government.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has suggested that ISIS and the Kurdish-group the PKK are most-likely to blame for the murders.

Some have been critical of the Turkish government, saying that they have failed to stand up to ISIS.

The Sussex memorial was organised by a loose group of students.

The event started at around 4pm and included speakers who had lost friends in the attack.

Sussex Student Ardahan Özkan Gedikli addressed the crowd, saying: “The terrifying attacks on 10th October made us very upset as it is our friends, our families, our brothers and sisters who died.

“I know that most of us would be at there if we would not be studying here in the UK.

Today, we are here to be in solidarity with the ones fighting for freedom, justice and equality.

“We are here to express our sadness and anger. We are here to condemn fascism. We are here to call on fraternity of peoples, to shout our Yaşasın Halkların Kardeşliği!, we are here to scream Biji Biratiya Gelan!”

A first-year English student – who attended the vigil – said “After such a terrible event, it was uplifting to see how the vigil helped people deal with their grief. A lot of the people there had been personally affected by the terror attack, and the first few who spoke were clearly sad and angry. However, the mood began to shift as people remembered the peace protest which the victims had been on, and by the time we left, I think a lot of us felt more resolved to carry on the spirit of that protest, and to transform our sadness and shock into carrying on supporting peace campaigns.”

One of the organisers said: “we did not want everything to be organised. We wanted people to help and do it together with us, write everything they wanted to write and express it in also their own language. There were more people than I expected and people stopped by and asked about what happened and showed their support.

“We were very glad that people showed their support by coming there and lighting candles with us.

“My purpose in organising this was to show our support to those who lost their families friends there and remind them that they are not alone. We are all very sad and angry. However, as it has been said many times since last Saturday, we will not lose our hope.”

The Turkish government recently allowed the United States to launch strikes on ISIS positions from Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey; a change from their previous stance.

Meanwhile, Kurdish forces have been battling the so-called Islamic State across a swath of northern Iraq and Syria.

By Pete Humphreys 

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