Police and protesters have clashed in several cities in Turkey as the country is gripped by unrest following the death of 15-year old Berkin Elvan. He was hit by tear-gas canister shot by police and died in hospital after 269 days in a coma.
“To our people: We lost our son Berkin Elvan at 7am this morning. Condolences to us all,” Berkin’s parents wrote.
Hashtag #BerkinElvanÖlümsüzdür (“Berkin Elvan is eternal”) trended globally on Twitter, as news of his death spread.
Berkin Elvan became an accidental victim of anti-government protests over the Gezi Park re-development plan. On June, 16 he left home to buy some bread for his family, but on the way he was hit in the head with a tear-gas canister shot by the police during clashes with protesters.
“Elvan had an epilepsy attack on March 7th, when his heart stopped for nearly 20 minutes,” the attorney told Anadolu on Sunday adding that “Berkin who was 45 kilos when he was shot, shrunk down to 16 kilos.”
Upon learning about his death about 1,000 people staged a rally outside the Istanbul hospital where the teen was treated.
Outside the hospital security forces tried to disperse the crowd as some of the mourners attacked police cars with stone and sticks while forming barricades with rubbish containers, Anadolu Agency reported.
In Istanbul police used tear gas and water cannon after several dozen protesters outside the hospital hurled stones at a police bus and stole helmets and shields, English-language Hurriyet Daily News reported. It also cited an AFP photographer, who said that one demonstrator was injured.
The boy’s mother Gulsum Elvan has blamed the death of her son on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who back in June praised the “legendary heroism” of police forces in quelling anti-government protests.
“It’s not God who took my son away but Prime Minister Erdogan,” she told reporters outside the Istanbul hospital.
Angry people confronted riot police, shouting “killers”.
Police reportedly announced that they would let the protesters give a press statement in Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue, but they would not allow marching to Taksim Square.
In the capital city of Ankara around 2,000 students gathered outside the Middle East Technical University. As the crowd marched towards the headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, it partly blocked traffic on one of Ankara’s main streets.
As the protesters ignored a warning from security forces, police fired tear gas and water cannons to scatter the crowd.
People in many other cities around Turkey also went on to the streets to mourn the death of the young man.
Police and protesters have also clashed in the cities of Izmir, Adana, Antalya, Kocaeli and Mersin, according to Dogan News Agency reporters on the ground.