UPDATE: The latest official numbers put the death toll at 102 a week after the attacks, making it the worst terror attack on Turkish soil.
Last night, my friend and I went to a concert for my favorite band, Pinhani. The audience — a good size, not too crowded but a good showing of devoted fans — was lively and excited. The whole concert was probably the best I’ve ever attended. Everyone there had a keen appreciation for the music, and the band members themselves had a keen appreciation for the kind of community they had created with their work. At one point, the lead singer of the band — Sinan Kaynakçi — even joined us in the audience, leading to an impromptu folk dance among him and some fans.
The following is a very brief (and not very good) video I took of the dance:
This morning, from the safety of my home, I watched a video taken of a group of youth at a peace rally. They’re hands were clasped (well, really, their pinkies) and they bounced in a circle, performing a halay dance as they celebrate peace.
Seconds later, the dance — and the rally — is shattered by an explosion (visible on screen), quickly followed by a second (only audible).
As of this writing, at least 30 people have died. Over 100 have been injured. The rally has been described as having been organized by mostly organizations with leftist leanings. The HDP (People’s Democratic Party) also seems to have been represented. These are the facts as they have developed now.
I am not posting the video I watched, because it is jarring and emotional. If you search online (or on twitter), you are sure to find it. And the article I linked to above has a screengrab from the video showing the moment of the first explosion. There is no blood or gore. But it is difficult to watch nonetheless.
I paint these two pictures only because of the similarity between the two dances: both in celebration, though in different contexts, created out of a sense of community and solidarity. And the difference: one finished peacefully, followed by the continuation of a beautiful concert; the second violently ended by a mass bombing that, against all of our hopes, seems indeed to be becoming Turkey’s new reality.
This attack will have tremendous political consequences. Already people — professional and lay — are attempting to pick apart what this means for Turkey. Theories are forming about who attacked whom. Spin will be applied by all individuals to fit their preferred narratives. The truth will be much harder to uncover.
The politics of this attack are important. But I am not going to jump into that issue, for two reasons: 1) Yes, it is sensitive, and 2) because it is sensitive, it should be left to the professionals. I have spent a majority of the past few years studying Turkish politics, both at university and in my free time. I have followed events and can speak on the matter. But I still have a lot to learn, and as an American, I also have to remember that no matter how much I love this country, it is not mine. I may have a stake here, but it will never be the same as the stake of those who were born here, who live here permanently, who can’t just leave on the next plane if things continue to get rough. Though I definitely hope I won’t have to leave on a plane any time soon, I am privileged to have that option.
Though this may be a political issue, first and foremost it is a personal one. People have been killed, and each one had friends, family, and colleagues who will mourn him or her. Each one had a vibrant story worth telling. I doubt we will have the honor to get to know those stories.
And among those wounded, some may not yet make it. All will have physical scars to bare. Not to mention the thousands of mental scars now being carried by so many in this city.
And for all of us now in Turkey — some more than others — the political consequences will continue to have serious personal ones.
So while the politics of this attack will and should be discussed and properly understood, for now, I ask that those reading keep the people who have been affected in your thoughts and/or prayers, whichever is more applicable.
Başınız sağolsun Ankara. Başınız sağolsun Türkiye.