Security footage shows police officers firing teargas canisters that left research assistant blind
İsmail Saymaz ISTANBULSecurity footage has emerged appearing to show two police officers firing tear gas canisters from close range at a crowd during the summer 2013 Gezi Park protests, which hit research assistant Burak Ünveren and left him blind in his left eye.
As part of the investigation into the incident, which caused Ünveren to lose his eye, Istanbul’s chief public prosecutor’s office demanded that the National Criminal Bureau examine surveillance footage from around the neighborhood where the incident occurred and write a report.
According to the official report, two police officers in the footage were seen firing teargas canisters directly at protestors at close range. The report states that on the day of the incident a tear gas canister was fired directly at protestors, causing chaos as it hit a crowd of around 25 people. The report stated that this period of the footage is “most likely” the moment when Ünveren was hit by a canister.
The report also provides information about the structure of police teams on the street, stating that they should all include one chief, one paramedic, two officers who have the authority to fire gas canisters, eight officers carrying shields and 12 officers carrying batons. Based on this structure, the report emphasizes that there were definitely two police officers in the scene who were able to fire gas canisters. The report was also able to identify one of the police officers, as he was not wearing his helmet during the incident.
Based on the findings of the report, the prosecutor’s office sent an official request to the Istanbul police directorate and demanded the name of the suspect seen in the security footage. Ünveren’s attorney, Ayhan Erdoğan, said the police officer who shot Ünveren was probably in the same team as the officer with helmet number T-412.
“You can see it from the footage. The only thing we don’t know is his name,” he added.
Victim claims he was no threat
Working as a research assistant in the school of economics at the Yıldız Technical University (YTÜ), Ünveren said he had gone out to see the protests in front of his house.
“People on the street were only clapping, shouting and chanting. There were no acts of violence but police kept using tear gas excessively. I definitely did not pose any sort of threat to public safety. I only wanted to see what was really happening on the street, but I ended up losing my left eye,” he added.