This past Friday, a car bomb exploded at a Turkish police station in Diyarbakir, killing at least nine civilians, while injuring over one hundred. On Sunday, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks—a subsect of the militant group Kurdistan Workers’ Party—claimed responsibility for the attack. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party is classified as a terrorist organization by both the Turkish and American governments.
The car bombing occurred several hours after members of the pro-Kurdish political party were detained by the Turkish government. According to the prime minister, these party members had not responded to a summons by a prosecutor, so they were detained as a part of an ongoing terror investigation.
The Turkish government’s first response was to blame the Kurdistan Workers’ Party for the attack, but the information did not line up completely—several Kurdish politicians were in the building that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party had allegedly attacked. To further complicate matters, the Islamic State initially claimed responsibility for the attack. It was not until Sunday that First News Agency, a pro-Kurdish journalism website, stated that the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks had carried out the bombings. In the statement, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks conceded that they did not know there were Kurdish politicians in the building when they had initiated the blast.
Over the course of the past year in Turkey, the Kurdish militants and Islamic State have separately carried out multiple bomb attacks. This recent attack is only one example of response to Turkish president Erdogan’s rule. This past summer, a failed coup against Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic rule heightened tensions and instability in the region.
Erdogan’s authoritarian rule has implications outside of Turkey’s domestic sphere, as it has attracted the attention of foreign leaders as well. For example, Turkey has been seeking entrance to the European Union, but many leaders are wary of this notion. Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the European Union parliament, stated that the recent events in Turkey add “to a long list of events in which the Turkish authorities have failed to respect the rule of law and democratic principles, human rights, and press freedoms.” Schaake has gone one step further by advocating that the European Union not consider Turkey’s membership until “meaningful benchmarks towards respect for the rule of law are met.”