Gezi protester recovering from police tear gas attack after waking up from coma
İZMİR – Doğan News Agency
Mustafa Ali Tonbul (R) and his father Mehmet Tonbul's have been deeply affected by the police crackdown during the protests in Istanbul. DHA photoMustafa Ali Tonbul, a young protester injured by a police tear gas canister during the Gezi demos in Istanbul has returned to his home in İzmir after having survived two operations and spending 22 days in intensive care.
The 17-year-old student fought back after falling into a coma, however damage from the surgery is visible as doctors have temporarily removed a bone from his skull to accelerate his recovery. The bone will be replaced back on his skull with another operation in three weeks.
Tonbul came to Istanbul for traveling at the beginning of last month. On July 8, he and his friends decided to visit the park that has become the symbol of nationwide protests when they heard that police had reopened access. When they approached the Taksim Square area, the group found itself in the middle of a police crackdown on protesters.
A gas canister fired by a riot police officer hit Tonbul’s head, however the teenager says he has no recollection of the moment when the incident happened.
The attack on Tonbul also affected his family’s life. His father Mehmet Tonbul said that he lost his job for having to spend time at the hospital at the bedside of his son.
“The duration of the treatment was uncertain and I just started a new job. So I have lost my job. But fortunately my son is miraculously alive. Hopefully he will get better,” Mehmet Tonbul said, adding that the investigation to determine the officer who fired the gas canister was ongoing.
“We have filed a complaint. We wish for the perpetrator to be found as soon as possible and punished for his crime,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mustafa Tonbul is preparing to get back to school and prepare for university exams next year. He told reporters that he wanted to study history.
A 14-year-old teenager, Berkin Elvan, is still in coma after more than two months, also due to a gas canister that hit his head.
Elvan was not a protester but a bystander who was attacked after stepping out to buy bread during a police intervention in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood on June 16.
Amnesty International (AI) had issued on Aug. 21 a call to Turkish authorities to launch a fair investigation to find the police officer responsible for firing a tear gas capsule that struck Elvan’s head.
Five people have died and thousands have been injured since the Gezi protests erupted in late May, when Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality attempted to cut down trees in Taksim’s iconic park, sparking anger in Istanbul and cities around the country.