YALOVA - Hürriyet Daily News
Çayan Birben dies at hospital in Yalova, while his family members and activists say they will allow the death, reportedly caused by police pepper spray, be covered up
A police officer fires in the air in the northwestern province of Yalova as family members of Çayan Birben, who died after being hit by police pepper spray, hold a march to demand a proper investigation into the issue. DHA photo
The family of a 31-year-old man who died three days after being hit by police pepper spray in the northwestern province of Yalova, as well as activists in the city, are concerned that the death will not be properly investigated due to pressure from the police.
Çayan Birben died four times in 48 hours but was brought back to life by his doctors before being declared dead yesterday afternoon.
Nezaket Ünal, head of the Health Service Laborers Union’s Yalova branch, argued that police officers at the hospital where Birben died had been trying to cover up the incident.
“Police officers are in the hospital all the time and they interfere in reporters’ interviews with the family,” Ünal told the Hürriyet Daily News
yesterday by phone. “I assume that they are also secretly trying to affect doctors’ statements on the cause of death through the hospital administration.” However Zeki Bingöl, the deputy chief doctor at Yalova State Hosiptal, said the cause of Birben’s death would be investigated by the Forensic Medicine Institute. He added that the claims of police pressure were “unacceptable.”
Birben was reportedly attempting to separate a group of people who were fighting on the street when police officers arrived to disperse the crowd by using pepper gas.
He suffered from asthma and experienced panic attacks, and told the police to stop using gas, according to agency reports. The police reportedly continued using pepper gas, and Birben was immediately taken to Yalova State Hospital after fainting.
Yalova Police issued a press release yesterday saying that Birben was not trying to stop the fight but was one of the attackers. “A group of five people including Çayan Birben attacked another group and the police tried to stop the fight by using gas,” the statement read. The incident has been investigated on all points, it added.
Melike Korkmaz, the lawyer for the victim’s family, said the incident was “a murder in the first degree.”
“We have filed a criminal complaint against the police officers involved in the incident,” said Korkmaz, adding that the report on the cause of death would be very important for the progress of the case. However, pepper gas causes respiratory depression, and the traces of the gas vanishes from the body in 20 minutes, which will make it impossible to determine during an autopsy, according to Ünal. “They [the police] are trying to normalize violence. Tear gas use is widespread violence in practice,” Ünal said.
Police use tear gas on family
YALOVA – Doğan News Agency
Police used pepper gas to disperse Çayan Birben’s relatives and activists outside the hospital building yesterday.
The crowd shouted “murderer police” in protest after they were informed of his death.
The group then began throwing stones at the police booth at the hospital, and the police intervened using tear gas. The group then attacked police cars and a police officer fired into the air to stop them.