Turkey : Ankara bans public gatherings due to ‘terror alert’


Cii Radio| Sabera Sheik Essop| 19 October 2016| 17 Muharram 1438

Turkey’s capital Ankara has banned all public gatherings and demonstrations until the end of November after receiving information about “potential terror attacks”.

The Ankara governorate said in a statement on Monday that all such meetings had been prohibited until November 30, in line with the state of emergency imposed in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15.

It said that the decision was taken “to ensure people’s safety and public order”.

The governorate, which is responsible for security throughout the capital and the wider province, said it had received intelligence “that banned terror organisations were preparing actions in our province”.

Without naming the organisations, it said that the groups were thought to have been planning attacks on public demonstrations and meetings.

Events covered by the ban include gatherings and protests in open or closed public places such as streets, avenues, parks and squares, as well as plays and performances in public places.

Public bodies may organise events in public places if they obtain special permission from the governor’s office.
Republic Day on October 29, commemorating the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey, and Remembrance Day on November 10, marking the death of the republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, are both within the time period covered by the ban.

Both events attract huge crowds in Ankara every year.

Previous bans
Last week, the Ankara governorate issued a similar ban on Ashura Day gatherings in the city, saying it had received intelligence that “terror groups were planning to target these kinds of activities”.

The ban was to remain in force all throughout the month of Muharram in order to “maintain peace” in the city, but after wide condemnation by Turkey’s Alawite community and opposition groups, the governorate took a step back and said Ashura Day gatherings would be allowed in closed venues.

Citing “security concerns”, Ankara’s governorate also banned public gatherings in the city on October 10, the first anniversary of the twin suicide bombings that killed 103 peace activists who were trying to hold a rally outside the capital’s main train station.

Authorities allowed families of the victims and some civil society representatives to lay flowers in front of the train station, but used tear gas and water cannons to disperse gathered protesters.

The Turkish capital has been hit repeatedly over the past 12 months by attacks blamed on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) fighters and Kurdish armed groups.

At least 30 were killed on February 17 and 37 more lost their lives on March 13 in bombings claimed by Kurdish fighters.

Ankara was also a prime target of the plotters in the July 15 failed coup bid, which the government blames on US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Source : Al Jazeera