Football fans from Turkey, Greece, Italy remember Berkin Elvan
Greece’s AEK also remebered the 15-year-old who died after spending 269 in coma due to a teargas canister iğnjury.Supporters of many football clubs both in Turkey and abroad commemorated Berkin Elvan over the weekend, unfurling banners and singing chants for the 15-year-old who lost a nine-month battle last week after being hit with a gas canister during the Gezi protests.
Not only Istanbul’s Fenerbahçe, but also Greece’s AEK and Aris, along with Italy’s Livorno, remembered Elvan, whose death after 269 days in a coma reignited street protests in Turkey.
“Let no children die, let them go to games,” read one banner in the Fenerbahçe stands in a reference to some lines from famous Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet, while another bore the face of Elvan. Fans also held aloft a banner commemorating 22-year-old Burak Can Karamanoğlu, who was also killed in street clashes last week.
Fenerbahçe games have often been filled with political commentary this season, with fans regularly singing an anthem devoted to Ali İsmail Korkmaz, another young man killed during the Gezi Park protests.
Korkmaz was a 19-year-old protester who succumbed after two weeks to injuries incurred from a beating he received at the hands of plainclothes men in Eskişehir.
Fenerbahçe fans remembered him with chants “Ali İsmail korkmaz, Fenerbahçe yıkılmaz,” meaning “Ali İsmail is never scared, Fenerbahçe can never be destroyed.”
Aris Thessaloniki fans, meanwhile, opened a banner reading “RIP Berkin Elvan” during their derby against PAOK the same night.
Supporters of Livorno, known for their left-wing stance, also unfurled a banner reading “Berkin Elvan vive” (Berkin Elvan lives) to commemorate the late teen, who was shot when he went out to buy bread amid street protests in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood.
AEK Athens fans displayed a banner featuring a photograph of Elvan along with Alexis Grigoropoulos, a teen whose killing by two policemen ignited riots in Greece in 2008. Elvan’s death has frequently been likened to Grigoropoulos’ in terms of social impact, and graffiti commemorating the pair together has appeared on both sides of the Aegean.
Earlier on March 17, the largely left-wing supporter groups of Turkish clubs including Gençlerbirliği, Adana Demirspor, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray issued a statement, saying “Let the kids play.”
“We don’t know how to remain silent when our brother is shot,” the statement read. “Stadiums are not a place to remain silent; they are for shouting out loud.”