Pepper spray victim buried in hometown
RİZE - Doğan News Agency
A crowd of people carrying a banner with the picture of victim Çayan Birben march to the funeral ceremony in the Black Sea province of Rize. DHA photoÇayan Birben, a 31-year-old Yalova man who was killed earlier this week by police pepper gas, was laid to rest June 1 in his hometown of Rize in the Black Sea region.
“[Birben’s death] needs to be investigated. I do not think the Forensic Medicine Institute’s report on Birben’s death will determine a cause of death, because Birben was given so much oxygen,” said Melike Korkmaz, a lawyer representing the victim’s family.
“Doctors tried to clean the pepper gas from my son’s body using more oxygen [than was necessary],” said Birben’s father, Ahmet Birben, claiming doctors were forced to do so due to police oppression.
Birben, who suffered from asthma and experienced panic attacks, was reportedly attempting to break up a fight on May 27 in Yalova when police arrived on the scene in attempt to break up the melee. Law enforcement officers began spraying pepper gas on the combatants even though Birben implored them not to because of his severe respiratory condition.
The police, however, continued to use the gas, causing Birben to faint, after which he was taken to Yalova State Hospital. Birben succumbed to his injuries May 30.
The Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into the incident following an outcry from civil society groups and in the media.
Korkmaz said police had used “disproportionate force.”
Representatives of opposition political parties, including Alper Taş, the leader of the Freedom and Democracy Party (ÖDP), and the deputy leader of the People’s Voice Party (HSP), Mehmet Bekaroğlu, attended Birben’s funeral.
Speaking to private broadcaster CNNTürk, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also said disproportionate force had no place in democratic countries. Meanwhile, Ali Güneş, a lawyer in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, has applied to the Interior Ministry to end the use of pepper gas by police. The European Court of Human Rights has outlawed the use of pepper gas, considering it to be a form of “torture,” Güneş said.