Protests have erupted in cities around Turkey following the death of a 15-year-old teenager who was injured in the midst of anti-government protests in June 2013. The teenager, Berkin Elvan, who was 14 at the time of the incident remained in coma for close to 9 months before he passed away earlier today. His family officially broke the news to the world via a Twitter update that read –”We lost our son. May he rest in peace.”
According to Reuters, almost all key cities of Turkey had some form of protests going on following Berkin’s death. In the Capital Ankara, police had to fire water cannons and tear gas against protesters who had gathered at the city’s Kizilay square and shouted slogans against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In Istanbul, the country’s biggest city, protesters gathered across various suburbs following posts on various social media websites asking people to join in and protest against the Government. Another city where a significant number of protesters had gathered was Mersin where there are reports of two women being injured after a water cannon vehicle struck them. In Adana, a city in southern Turkey, protesters clashed with police who retaliated using water cannons.
After the announcement of Elvan’s death, his mother was seen outside the Okmeydani hospital where she was surrounded by mourners, reports the BBC. Elvan was undergoing treatment at the same hospital for nine months. The Tweet announcing his death was retweeted over 15,000 times. Berkin’s funeral is slated to take place on Wednesday where thousands are expected to gather.
Berkin Elvan, who lived in the Okmeydani neighborhood of Istanbul was injured when he was caught in the clashes between anti-government protesters and the police on June 16, 2013. The teenager was hit by a tear gas canister on his head while he was out to buy bread for his family. Elvan was to never return home. He remained in coma for an excruciating 269 days before giving up. Of late, his health had begun to deteriorate with his weight falling to just 16 kg (35lb). In the meantime, Berkin had become a rallying point for people opposed to the regime of Prime Minister Erdoğan. The hospital where he was being treated was thronged by protesters who would hold vigils for the teen.
With Elvan’s death, the death toll from the May – June 2013 protests have gone up to eight. Seven others, including one police officer died during the clashes. There has been no official response from the Turkish government following the death of Berkin. The only official reaction came from Istanbul’s governor Avni Mutlu who sent a message of condolence to Elvan’s family.
[Image Via: dailybulletin.com, ABC, Yahoo News and Ctpost.com]