On 20 July 2015, 32 young socialist activists who volunteered to help rebuild the town of Kobane were killed in a bomb attack in Suruc, near the Syrian border. The attack was claimed by ISIS and took place in a context of growing tension between the Turkish authorities and Kurdish militants. Violent reactions to the Suruc bombing from the PKK and the authorities marked the end of the peace process launched two years before, and the resumption of the armed struggle between the PKK and the Turkish authorities, which is still ongoing today.
Since the end of July 2015, clashes have been taking place on an almost daily basis between the PKK (and its affiliates such as the YDG-H and the YPS) and the Turkish security forces.
The heaviest fighting has been in urban areas where curfews were imposed by the Turkish security forces in order to regain control from Kurdish armed groups. According to non-governmental sources, at least 300 civilians have been killed in this context since the summer of 2015 in several towns in Turkey’s south-east, most of them during curfew hours. The draconian security measures that have been imposed along with the curfews also have a negative impact on the residents’ access to basic services in the areas concerned. Several international observers have criticised the authorities’ excessive use of force and their failure to respect the fundamental rights of civilians caught up in security operations.
The fighting has been taking place in the eastern and particularly south-eastern part of Turkey. The heaviest fighting, with the greatest number of civilian casualties, has been concentrated in some towns of the provinces of Mardin, Sirnak and Diyarbakir.
Outside areas affected by the fighting between security forces and Kurdish armed groups, Turkey was hit by several devastating bomb attacks during the period covered by this report. On 10 October 2015, two suicide bombers with links to ISIS blew themselves up in Ankara killing 102 people. On 12 January 2016, another suicide attack attributed to ISIS killed a dozen tourists in the centre of Istanbul. On 17 February 2016, more than 30 people were killed in a bomb attack targeting the military in Ankara and claimed by the TAK, which is considered a PKK offshoot. On 14 March 2016, at least 36 civilians were killed in another bomb attack in Ankara, also claimed by the TAK.
Parliamentary elections were held in Turkey on 7 June and 1 November 2015. In the November elections, the AKP won an absolute majority of votes and was thus able to form a single-party government.