Police fire tear gas at protest for comatose 14-year-old Gezi victim

Police fire tear gas at protest for comatose 14-year-old Gezi victim

ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
Police fire tear gas at protest for comatose 14-year-old Gezi victim

Turkish police use water cannon to disperse demonstrators on Nov 16 in Istanbul. AFP photo

Police have once again used tear gas and water cannon to disperse a group of demonstrators gathering in front of Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse to call for justice for Berkin Elvan, a 14-year-old teenager still in a coma after sustaining a head injury due to a gas canister 153 days ago.

Elvan, an innocent bystander who was attacked after stepping out to buy bread during a police intervention in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood on June 16, underwent his fourth operation this week but has still not regained consciousness. 

The crowd led by the Taksim Solidarity Platform had just finished reading a statement calling for those responsible for Elvan’s injury to be brought to justice when police issued a call for those assembled to disperse from in front of the courthouse. Members of the platform attempted to persuade police to hold off on an attack, but were unsuccessful.

Police immediately intervened on the protesters with two water cannon, as well as about 50 officers firing tear gas and plastic bullets. Some protesters told the police that they came to drink some tea at the courthouse’s cafeteria when the police fired water on the crowd.

One woman trying to escape the police’s water truck engines (TOMA) broke her leg and was transferred to hospital. Police chased the protesters trying to reach public transport stations. 18 protesters were taken into custody, Doğan news agency reported. 

Many bystanders in the area were affected by the water and tear gas. Battles between protesters and police officers later spread to Elvan's nearby neighborhood of Okmeydanı, which is famous for its oppositional stance toward the state.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for Elvan’s family, Evrim Deniz Karatana, filed a criminal complaint on Nov. 15 against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Interior Minister Muammer Güler, Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu and Istanbul Police Chief Hüseyin Çapkın on charges of attempted murder in the case.

A number of members of the Taksim Platform were detained for days during the Gezi protests and appeared in hearings at the Çağlayan Courthouse.

A concert will be organized to support Elvan on Nov. 18 at the Jolly Joker stage in Istanbul with the aim of raising funds for his family.