Je suis Ankara

The Turkish capital city suffered three huge terrorist bombings in five months, but received only a fraction of the sympathy and attention given to Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. After the March suicide bomb attack (that killed at least 34 people and wounded 125), James Taylor, who lives in Ankara, shared this powerful Facebook post calling for empathy with the victims of the attack:

“For those who do not know Turkey, or who distance themselves from these attacks, maybe this will open your eyes.

The bombing this evening occurred in the one of the most crowded parts of the centre of town, next to many bus stops with people waiting to go home, arriving for a night out, and sitting in the park relaxing and drinking tea.
Is is the equivalent of a bomb going off outside Debenhams on the Drapery in Northampton, or on New street in Birmingham, or Piccadilly Circus in London.
Can you imagine being there? Can you imagine the place you walk past every day, the bus stops you use, the roads you cross being obliterated.
Can you imagine the victims? The teenagers catching the bus to go home, the grandparents walking into town, the people waiting for a taxi after a long day laughing and socialising in the sun.
Now imagine they were english, and this attack was in England. If these people were instead the people you see every day on your way to work, people just like you and I, normal, happy people. Families, policemen, students, artists, couples. Your friends maybe. These people are no different. They just happen to be Turkish.
Contrary to what many people think, Turkey is not the Middle East. Ankara is not a war zone, it is a normal modern bustling city, just like any other European capital, and Kizilay is the absolute heart, the centre.
It is very easy to look at terror attacks that happen in London, in New York, in Paris and feel pain and sadness for those victims, so why is it not the same for Ankara? Is it because you just don’t realise that Ankara is no different from any of these cities? Is it because you think that Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, like Syria, like Iraq, like countries that are in a state of civil war, so therefore it must be the same and because you don’t care about those ones, then why should you care about Turkey? If you don’t believe that these attacks in Ankara affect you, or you can’t feel the same pain you felt during the Paris or London attacks, then maybe you should stop to think why, why is it that you feel like that. Turkey is an amazing country with truly wonderful people. I have never felt more welcome, more happy, more safe than I do here.

Ankara is my home, it has been for the last 18 months, and it will continue to be my home.
You were Charlie, you were Paris. Will you be Ankara?”

 

turkey
Two sides of Turkey.                                                                  Photographs: Lauren Bing
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