Substance in water cannons in Gezi Park protests harmful and criminal, experts say
ISTANBUL – Radikal
The addition of a gas to the water cannons during the weekend’s police crackdown on the Gezi Park protests has stirred a debate in Turkey. AA photo
The addition of a gas to the water cannons during the weekend’s police crackdown on the Gezi Park protests has stirred debate in Turkey, following remarks from experts about the legal basis of its use and the harm that it may cause to the body.
The substance, which was photographed as police officers added it to water cannons, is “highly dangerous,” according to the doctors, while lawyer Ömer Kavili described the use of this substance as a “crime against humanity.”
Many photos have been shared on social media showing people with burnt skin after exposure to the water used by mass incident intervention vehicles (TOMA).
However, according to Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu’s earlier remarks, the water used in the TOMAs is “not a chemical, but medicated water. Our citizens have gotten used to this water.”
The substance used in the TOMAs is described as “OC gas solution,” namely Jenix, on its plastic can, which refers to liquid tear gas.
It causes “first degree burns” and causes damage to the skin similar to the effects of tear gas on respiration, according to Dr. Ümit Ünüvar, a member of the Forensic Medicine Experts Association.
“Keep away from children. Do not spread over a broad area. Do not spill over canalization, underground or surface water. Prevent contact with skin and eyes,” the warning on the plastic can reads, adding that skin should be washed with water in case of contact.
The OC gas solution leads to redness and bulging of the skin, with its effects depending on the amount used and the manner in which it comes into contact with the skin.
On a legal basis, lawyer Ömer Kavili described the use of this gas solution as a “crime.”
“The substance added to the water [used in the TOMAs] is a chemical substance. I have seen this used on 10 or 11-year-old children during my time at the Istanbul Bar. The children’s skin was burned beneath their clothes,” he said.
“The use of this substance is a crime. The vendor should inform the customer about the consequences of this substance and those who used this substance despite the warning on the can should immediately be investigated,” Kavili says.
“The use of this substance is ‘torture and inhuman crime,’ according to Article 94 of the Turkish Criminal Code,” he added.
Meanwhile, an official from the company producing Jenix gas solution has confirmed that it has been used in the TOMAs for years during protests in southern Turkey as well as in Istanbul and Ankara. It is produced in conformity with technical specifications determined by the security forces, he said.
“It is not directly added to the water but it is put in a separate tank, the police can manage its amount while using it,” he said, adding that it has become controversial as the police “might have used it over the dosage.”