Police detain 10 people keeping vigil for Gezi victim Berkin Elvan
A vigil is continuing in front of the hospital where Berkin Elvan remains convalescent following an announcement by his family that the boy's condition had worsened. DHA photoPolice staged a crackdown on dozens of sleeping activists waiting at Şişli’s Okmeydanı Hospital early this morning as they kept vigil for 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, who has been in a coma since June 2013 after being struck in the head by a gas canister.
Upwards of 10 people were reportedly detained during the operation.
Officers, who had kept their distance since the vigil started on March 7 when Elvan’s condition worsened, moved in early in the morning to clear out dozens of people who had heeded a call from the boy’s family to come show solidarity.
Protesters reportedly erected barricades inside the hospital to prevent the police from advancing further and entering within the facility.
President Gül calls Elvan's father
Turkish President Abdullah Gül called Sami Elvan, the boy’s father March 10 after the incidents in front of the hospital.
“I am sorry for what has happened. I share your sorrow. I am following Berkin’s situation closely. I want to know if you need anything,” Gül told the father, according to daily Hürriyet.
Sami Elvan reportedly told Gül the police intervention against the group gathered in front of the hospital was harsh.
Gül told Elvan that he would call Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu over the issue. The president reportedly demanded Mutlu be more sensitive about the issue during the phone call.
Earlier, Elvan’s family castigated Mutlu, who became notorious during the Gezi protests after police's brutal dawn raids against activists camping in the park, via a Twitter message.
“Pull your police out from the hospital, Gov. Mutlu. Nothing untoward has happened for days [during this vigil]. You will be the only one responsible for anything that happens from now on. They’re even detaining people inside the hospital. They’re trying to take us all,” the Elvan family. The family is expected to make a statement later in the day.
Police reportedly confiscated blankets and provisions from the protesters.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Melda Onur immediately came to the hospital after receiving news of the intervention.
“I asked the police chief, ‘Is it forbidden to wait in front of the hospital?’” she said in a Tweet. “‘No, we’re leaving, they can stay,’ he said. So I asked why they dispersed [everyone]. He couldn’t answer. It’s something he wouldn’t be able to answer anyway.”
On March 9, the family’s lawyers issued a statement, saying Elvan had dropped to just 16 kilograms, down from 45 kilos at the time he was shot on June 16, 2013, as he stepped out to buy bread in Okmeydanı. Elvan has since become one of the prime symbols of the degree of violence faced by protesters throughout the nationwide demonstrations.