Protest death toll up to two, probe opened into police violence

Protest death toll up to two, probe opened into police violence

HATAY / ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Protest death toll up to two, probe opened into police violence

Daily News Photo, Emrah Gürel

The number of deaths in the nationwide protests increased to two with the death of a 22-year-old man today, after sustaining a head injury on June 3 in southern Turkey, with the interior minister saying a probe had been opened into police violence.

Cömert was shot in the head with a gas canister, the initial autopsy report said, according to the opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Hatay provincial head Servet Muallaoğlu. Thousands of people reportedly attended Cömert’s funeral, which was held yesterday in Hatay.

Hasan Akgöl, a CHP lawmaker, confirmed that Cömert was a member of the youth branch of his party.
“It was said [he was killed] by a police bullet in the beginning, but [doctors] stated that a gas canister had exploded, hitting his head,” Mualaoğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday in a phone interview, adding that he was on his home street when he died.


Abdullah Cömert.
DHA Photo

Hatay Governor Celalettin Lekesiz yesterday confirmed an autopsy report showing that Cömert was not killed by a gunshot. Cömert’s death in Hatay followed the death of 20-year-old Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, who was hit and killed after a car driver ignored warnings to stop for protesters organizing a Gezi Park solidarity demonstration in Ümraniye’s 1 Mayıs neighborhood on the night of June 2. The hacker group RedHack also released a statement, saying Ayvalıtaş was a RedHack member and claiming that the killing was the “intentional work of a fascist.”

The last messages Cömert wrote on his Facebook profile stated that he had “escaped death” for the third time during the protest, was tired, but would be “on the streets for the revolution.”

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Muammer Güler has said that probes have been opened into police violence against the “Occupy Taksim” protests. Addressing Parliament, where tension between deputies was high, Güler said two state inspectors and two police inspectors were investigating every claim one by one, and added that images uploaded onto social media would also be the subject of the investigations.

He said 280 businesses, 103 police cars, and 201 private cars had been damaged since the beginning of the protests. Güler defended police violence, saying, “Should we have allowed them to occupy the Parliament instead?”

‘Who is responsible of Abdullah’s murder?”

However, oppposition parties strongly reacted against the interior minister, accusing him of not taking the issue seriously enough. “While you are talking, somebody kills Abdullah. Do you know about this? A very young boy, Abdullah was killed in the spring of his life. Who is responsible for his death?” Emine Ülker Tarhan, deputy parliamentary group leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) asked in her reply to Güler. “Why did the prime minister run away? Why did he leave the country after instructing the police to end the protests?” she added.

Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Mersin deputy of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), submitted a parliamentary question on June 3, to be answered by Güler, about how Ethem Sarısülük had been shot by the police in Ankara during the Gezi Parkı protests.

Meanwhile, the CHP deputy leader Adnan Keskin claimed that several people detained in Ankara were passersby who were not involved in the protests, adding that around 100 people had been detained at the Ankara Police Department alone. Keskin visited the detained individuals at the Ankara Police Department with a group of CHP deputies, Aylin Nazlıaka, Hurşit Güneş, Veli Ağbaba and Özgür Özel.

Plainclothes officers in İzmir

Meanwhile, İzmir Police Chief Ali Bilkay said yesterday that the men dressed in civilian clothes who were running alongside the police officers with sticks in their hands were plainclothes police officers. The footage shared on social media had stirred controversy, leading to Bilkay having to make a statement. He said the plainclothes police officers were given police vests, but added that some of them may not be wearing them. İzmir Governor Mustafa Toprak had previously claimed that there were no civilians working with police against the protesters, stressing that plainclothes police officers always wore police vests.

On June 3, Istanbul police used tear gas against protesters in the Beşiktaş district on Dolmabahçe Avenue for a third day. Police also fired tear gas at a group of protesters who had been waiting behind the barricades near Gümüşsuyu, which is known as the main route from the Dolmabahçe area to Taksim Square.

Erdem Güneş from Istanbul contributed to this report.