Gezi victim remembered on anniversary of death as police detain protesters
ISTANBULTurkish police have detained several people who gathered to commemorate Gezi protest victim Berkin Elvan in Istanbul and Ankara on March 11, the first anniversary of his death.
A ceremony was held in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood, where Elvan was shot by a tear gas canister during a police crackdown on protesters in 2013. A table was set on the road with a photo of Elvan, carnations, and a loaf of bread, symbolically placed to remind locals of the fact that the 15-year-old was going out to buy bread when he was shot. The mourners observed a minute’s silence before singing a song written for Elvan by activist music group Grup Yorum. A short film prepared by Art Council members was also displayed.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Melda Onur attended the ceremony, where she promised to continue tracking the process until those responsible for Elvan’s killing are found.
Police fired water cannons and tears gas to prevent the crowd from marching to the Feriköy Cemetery where Elvan was laid to rest last year.
Another group of 10 people staged a protest at Gezi Park near Taksim Square, unfurling a banner that read “Berkin is here” and pouring red paint over the steps at the park’s entrance. Police immediately intervened and detained the protesters.
Clashes also erupted in the Çekmeköy neighborhood between police and a group who had gathered to go to the commemoration ceremony in Okmeydanı. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the group, which built barricades on the road.
Meanwhile, some 11 people have been detained in Ankara after they blocked a road in the city’s Tuzluçayır neighborhood to protest killing of Elvan. Masked individuals in the group threw stones and Molotov cocktails before police intervened with tear gas and water cannons, according to reports.
A commemoration was also held in a street named after Elvan in the Aegean province of İzmir.
Statue damaged in İzmir
Meanwhile, a statue of Elvan in İzmir, which was recently unveiled in a special ceremony, was attacked by unknown people early on March 11. The head and face of the bronze statue were reportedly damaged as attackers targeted it with stones and tried to remove it.
The statue was opened on March 1 at the entrance of a park named after Elvan in the Yaka neighborhood of İzmir’s Güzelbahçe district.
An investigation has been launched into the incident and police will examine nearby security camera footage to identify the attackers.
Berkin Elvan was 14 when he was fatally injured by the police and fell into a coma. He turned 15 while still unconscious but failed to recover from his injuries and died two months after his birthday, on March 11, 2014.
Elvan was struck by the tear gas while he was on the street to buy bread in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood on June 16, 2013. Elvan had dropped to 16 kilograms while in a coma before passing away. The police officers responsible for killing him have yet to be prosecuted.