Now Turkish police have two killers to find

Now Turkish police have two killers to find

There are actually more than two killers that need to be found by the Turkish police.

I’m not only talking about the deaths during the Gezi protests.

There are the killers of 34 villagers in Uludere, for example; they were mistaken as Kurdish militants by Air Force jets. There are many more.

But now it’s time to focus on what we have on the desk.

A few hours after the funeral of Berkin Elvan in Istanbul on March 12, another young man, Burak Can Karamanoğlu, was killed in the same district of the city, literally a few blocks away from the first one.

Berkin was 14 when his skull was crushed by a tear gas canister fired by the police nine months ago during the Gezi protests.

Burak was 22 when he was shot, presumably by a handgun bullet, during a confrontation on the night of Berkin’s funeral, when a group with wooden sticks in their hands and chanting religious-nationalist slogans marched towards the streets where Berkin’s family home is and is still full of mourning and upset friends.

His father, Halil Karamanoğlu, told reporters in tears that when the march started some 200 hundred meters away from their house, Burak was still with them at home. The district, Okmeydanı, is a notorious lower middle class district of the 14-million-person metropolis of Istanbul, and had been under a power cut over the previous few hours before the death, streets were dark.

“Burak went to see what was going on with two of his friends. Everything ended in 10-15 minutes, a stray bullet took him from us,” Halil Karamanoğlu added. 

At first, there were pro-government social media speculations claiming that it was a fight between left wing and right wing militants close to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), but following a quick statement from both the MHP and their youth organization, the Ülkücü Ocakları, that they had no relations either with the murdered young man or the protesting group, that claim faded out.

Nurettin Canikli, a spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti), accused “Kılıçdaroğlu’s illegal soldiers” of the attack, but that claim did not find any supporter either. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) had said a day before that he had been given warnings about possible “provocations sourcing from the government.”

The local AK Parti office in Okmeydanı was encircled and protected by a group of CHP deputies and their youth organization against any possible action from crowds of tens of thousands who were there to take Berkin’s coffin from Okmeydanı to the graveyard.

It is a complicated situation and the answer is in the slogans of the crowds in both Berkin’s and Burak’s funerals on two consecutive days: A demand from the government to find the murderers.

The fury of the crowds at Berkin’s funeral was partly because the government did almost nothing to find out which policeman had shot the canister that hit Berkin in the head. At the end of the day, he was a 1.60-meter-tall boy, and crowd control regulations tell police to fire gas canisters at angles of at least 45 degrees.

Up until yesterday, the Tayyip Erdoğan government had the responsibility to find only the murderer of Berkin to prevent any further escalation in the tension, but now there is the murderer of Burak, too.