Turkish police stop convoy of protester’s funeral, raid on waiting crowd in Ankara
Can Güleryüzlü/ Mesut Hasan Benli ANKARA - Radikal
The convoy that wanted to move to Kızılay from the Batıkent district was stopped by riot police and gendarmerie units as of noon. AA photo
His family, friends, lawyers and his fellow protesters were prepared to lay Ethem Sarısülük, the latest victim of the Gezi Park demonstrations, to rest on June 16 following a commemoration gathering at Ankara’s Kızılay Square.
Yet, the convoy that wanted to move to Kızılay from the Batıkent district was stopped by riot police and gendarmerie units as of noon.
As of 1.45 p.m., following three separate interventions with water cannons and pepper gas, the police has toughened its crackdown on protesters near the Kızılay Square. The police have begun to use water cannons and pepper gas against journalists and people around the journalists as well. The TOMAs and other armored vehicles have been carrying out dangerous driving maneuvers, ignoring traffic safety and putting lives of people at the square in danger.
An armored water cannon, known as a “Mass Incident Intervention Vehicle” (TOMA) in Turkish, and many riot police officers and gendarmerie forces were present at the Batıkent junction where the convoy has been stopped since 11:00 a.m.
The planned gathering at Kızılay aimed to commemorate Sarısülük at the exact place where he was allegedly shot by a police officer, with people wishing to leave red carnations at the site.
In Kızılay, the huge crowd was waiting for the convoy with carnations in their hands and shouting slogans against the government. Nonetheless, the police intervened in the crowd at the square with TOMAs and other vehicles for shooting pressurized water and tear gas as of 12:30 p.m.
On side streets, protesters and the police have been clashing.
The dispersed crowd has flocked into different directions as separate groups and the police have been following each group, while having already poured pressurized water and pepper gas for a second time in order not to let new gatherings in side streets.
Some protesters have been wounded due to intense use of pepper gas.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Ankara deputy Levent Gök arrived at the Batıkent junction. His efforts for convincing the police to allow the convoy, however, failed.
Thus, the convoy has been returning back to Batıkent.
Sarısülük, a blue-collar worker, was allegedly shot by a police officer in Ankara during the Gezi Park demonstrations on June 1. Having been on life support for days and later declared brain dead, he passed away on June 14, increasing the number of casualties in the protests to four.
Sarısülük’s coffin was taken to a Cemevi, where Alevis traditionally worship, in Batıkent on June 15 following an autopsy during which a bullet was removed from his head.
A lawyer for Sarısülük family, Kazım Bayraktar, and Sarısülük’s brother Mustafa Sarısülük attended the autopsy. An independent forensic medicine expert, Ayşe Uğurlu, also attended the autopsy upon the family’s request.
Bayraktar told reporters that a bullet had been removed from Sarısülük’s head, noting that this removal was recorded by a prosecutor who was present at the autopsy.
At the Batıkent junction, the chief of the riot police said the family could leave the coffin at Batıkent and carry out the commemoration at Kızılay without the coffin.
Bayraktar and Sarısülük’s brother Cenk Sarısülük insisted on taking the coffin to Kızılay, arguing that their traditions required doing so.
If the convoy is able to reach Kızılay for the commemoration there, the memorial is supposed continue at his house in Batıkent before the remains are taken to his hometown, Beylice village of Çorum, in order to be laid to rest.