Okmeydanı lays second youth to rest in two days

Okmeydanı lays second youth to rest in two days

Okmeydanı lays second youth to rest in two days

People holding Turkish flags walk during the funeral procession of Burak Can Karamanoğlu, who was killed by a gunshot on March 12 on the sidelines of protests after Berkin Elvan's funeral in Istanbul. AA photo

Thousands of people attended the funeral yesterday of 22-year-old Burak Can Karamanoğlu, who was killed in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood late March 12 by a gunshot on the sidelines of a police crackdown on protesters mourning the death of 15-year-old Gezi victim Berkin Elvan.

The second funeral in the already-tense neighborhood raised fears of more violence on the streets, while the ruling party blamed the opposition for the killing amid calls for restraint from the opposition.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Karamanoğlu still remain unclear, but the father of the victim denied claims that an argument had broken out before the incident and said his son was killed by a “stray bullet” fired by protesters.

“Such an incident does not take place in the neighborhood where we live. Everything happened 200 meters further away. A group of people were marching together over there as the street lights were off,” Halil Karamanoğlu told reporters in front of the forensics institute where his son’s autopsy was performed. He said his son had joined his friends to watch the protesters.

“They were hanging outside arm-in-arm as three friends. They were watching [people] from the side of the road. Then they were attacked. Everything happened in five minutes. The time between the boy coming home [from work], leaving again and the incident occurring was 10 minutes. They were shot by a stray bullet within 10 minutes. The bullet came from protesters,” Karamanoğlu said.

Karamanoğlu’s death came hours after hundreds of thousands of people attended the funeral ceremony of Berkin Elvan, who died on March 11 after spending 269 days in a coma after being shot in the head by the police with a gas canister during the Gezi protests last July.

Both victims were from the working class Okmeydanı neighborhood, one of the most sensitive areas of Istanbul, where communities from different regions and faiths live together. The majority of the neighborhood consists of middle-low and low-income Alevis and many leftist groups, including the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) receive strong support in the area, while parts of the neighborhood are also home to conservative communities mainly from the Black Sea region.

Such an incident could trigger tension in the neighborhood, and the victim’s father called for restraint. “I don’t have anything to do with the right or the left. We don’t approve of those incidents, we will live as one in this country,” he said.

As tensions rise on the streets, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused yesterday his opponents, including politicians, media and businesspeople, of trying to stir up chaos ahead of March 30 local elections.

“They are trying to get results by provoking and terrorizing the streets,” Erdoğan said at a ceremony to open a metro line in Ankara.

Erdoğan said demonstrators had destroyed the offices of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul and lashed out at what he called “ugly attempts” to manipulate March 30 elections.
“They are charlatans, they are not honest. They have nothing to do with democracy,” he said. “They do not believe in the ballot box.”

Policeman dies in Tunceli

The AKP’s deputy parliamentary group leader took the accusations
a step further.

“Those who killed our brotherare the illegal organizations supported by [main opposition leader Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu,” Nurettin Canikli said yesterday in the Alucra district of the Black Sea province of Giresun, Karamanoğlu’s hometown, where he will be laid to rest today.“Our entire nation should know that our brother was murdered by the illegal soldiers of Kılıçdaroğlu,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Tunceli, police officer Ahmet Küçüktağ died after he reportedly fainted inside a police car. Doctors at the Tunceli State Hospital said Küçüktağ’s health condition worsened due to the effects of intense teargas used by the police against protesters, which was subsequently denied by the police chief.

“False rumors are spread, according to which Küçüktağ died due to the effect of teargas. Our institution has not received such information. In addition, members of his team working together said they did not enter anywhere that required the wearing of gas masks,” said Tunceli police chief Hayati Yılmaz.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader has called everyone to calm during a visit to the family of Berkin Elvan, a teenager laid to rest on March 12 after remaining in a coma for approximately a year due to a wound from a gas canister shot by police in last year’s Gezi

 “I want all the citizens [to remain calm]. Please beware of the provocations. We will demand our rights using democratic tools. We are struggling for this,” said Kılıçdaroğlu yesterday after a visit to the Elvan’s house in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı district, according to Cihan news agency.

Kılıçdaroğlu also voiced his sorrow for the death of Karamanoğlu.“One of our brothers has lost his life in Istanbul. I wish for God’s blessings.”