Taxi driver killed amid violent protests in Istanbul’s Gazi neighborhood

Taxi driver killed amid violent protests in Istanbul’s Gazi neighborhood

Taxi driver killed amid violent protests in Istanbul’s Gazi neighborhood

AA photo

A taxi driver was shot dead, reportedly after masked protesters attempted to stop his car during a violent demonstration in Istanbul’s restive Gazi neighborhood on the night of May 17. 

Four suspects were detained as part of the investigation into the killing, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency has reported. 

The incident took place in the Gazi neighborhood of Istanbul’s Sultangazi district, after a group of protesters staged a demonstration on Adem Yavuz Street. The group reportedly stopped a municipality bus passing through the area and set it alight by throwing Molotov bombs before escaping into the side streets when police teams and fire squads arrived in the area. 

The taxi driver, identified as Şeref Çakırmanoğlu, 55, had been en route to his taxi stand in the Terasevler neighborhood after dropping off a passenger when protesters blocked the road and asked him to stop.

Çakırmanoğlu was shot as he tried to escape the protesters who attempted to seize his taxi, Doğan News Agency reported. He sustained injuries on his arm and abdomen, and bystanders took him to a private hospital nearby, but he later succumbed to his injuries due to excessive loss of blood. 

Drivers at the Terasevler taxi station wore black ribbons to protest Çakırmanoğlu’s killing and the lack of safety for taxi drivers in the area. 

“My phone rang at around 09:30 p.m. last night [May 17]. Someone said our taxi station was hit by bullets in the Gazi neighborhood and our driver was brought to a private hospital,” said the station’s head Ömer Faruk Yılmaz. 

Another driver, Yalçın Alaçam, criticized the perilous safety situation in the Gazi neighborhood, which is often the site of violent protests by left-wing groups, saying they feel uneasy when a passenger asks to go to the neighborhood. 

“We want safety. We want our chamber [of taxi drivers] to be more sensitive. We want either armored cars or a proper separator between ourselves and the passenger. We want a safety button,” Alaçam said, warning that the current situation would end up leading people to start carrying guns. 

Police have launched an investigation into the attack, detaining four suspects so far, according to reports by Anadolu Agency. 

The site of the incident, Gazi neighborhood, is predominantly populated by Alevis and is often a site of protests. Only three days ago, a woman was killed after being shot on her balcony while watching clashes between police and protesters in the same neighborhood.