News / Europe

Thousands March in Turkish Teen's Funeral

People carry the coffin of Berkin Elvan, a Turkish teenager who was in a coma since being hit on the head by a tear gas canister fired by police during anti-government protests in the summer of 2013, during his funeral in Istanbul, Turkey, March 12, 2014
People carry the coffin of Berkin Elvan, a Turkish teenager who was in a coma since being hit on the head by a tear gas canister fired by police during anti-government protests in the summer of 2013, during his funeral in Istanbul, Turkey, March 12, 2014
Dorian Jones
People across Turkey are mourning 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, who died Tuesday after spending months in a coma after being struck by a police gas canister during last summer’s anti-government unrest.

Despite appeals for calm, violence broke out shortly after Elvan's burial in an Istanbul cemetery on Wednesday.

Amid chants of "Elvan is immortal!" armored police vans fired water cannons and gas canister to disperse thousands of protesters who attended the ceremony, which drew tens of thousands from across the city.

The eighth person to die from injuries sustained during last summer's anti-government protests, 15-year-old Elvan, his parents say, was struck in the head by a police gas canister while buying bread.

But observers say that because of his young age and the fact that he died after spending months in the hospital, Elvan has become a focal point of concerns over police tactics and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's tough stance toward the unrest.

Many who marched in the funeral procession chanted in unison, calling both the police and the prime minister murderers. Some protesters hurled stones at a ruling party building, smashing its windows.

As the cortege weaved through the city, people applauded from office windows as the predominantly young mass of marchers, comprising college students and young school children, passed by.

"He was innocent. He did not do anything wrong," said one student who withheld her name. "He was just out buying bread for his family and the police shot [him]. We all blame Erdogan for this."

Commemorations for Elvan unfolded in many of Turkey’s main cities, including the capital, Ankara, where police dispersed mourners with tear gas and, according to some unverified reports, rubber bullets. Similar clashes between police and people protesting Elvan's death occurred Tuesday night in several cities.

“Please be aware that we all in Turkey are mourning today," said Justice Minister Bekir Bozda on Wednesday. "We were plunged into deep sadness by his loss of life in such an incident. May he rest in peace."

While Erdogan has not commented on Elvan’s death, President Abdullah Gul appealed for calm and says he instructed police to act with restraint during Elvan’s funeral. In Istanbul, police appeared to heed calls for restraint only until the funeral concluded, when thousands began walking toward Taksim Square, the epicenter of last year’s unrest.

Demonstrations in Taksim Square have been banned since last year, but the latest clashes are likely to put the spotlight back on the government and police tactics.

Emma Sinclair Webb, senior Turkey researcher for U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, says the Elvan case raises wider questions about police impunity.

"There really is no proper investigation into the circumstances surrounding Berkin’s death," she said. "Basically, it crystallizes the feeling that the state is fundamentally unaccountable when it comes to police violence. In a sense, Berkin’s case is like many other cases we have documented, where the investigation into the police conduct is absolutely absent."

Justice Minister Bozdag insists the investigation into Elvan’s death is ongoing, but with the government still mired in allegations of graft and authoritarian rule, observers warn of further civil unrest.

With Erdogan accusing demonstrators of being part of an international conspiracy against him, a change in police tactics is not expected.

On the campaign trail ahead of March 30 municipal elections, Erdogan recently addressed a rally in the southeastern city of Siirt but failed to mention the teenager's death in a lengthy speech.

The embattled prime minister has acknowledged the polls will act as a referendum on his rule.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: C 74 from: Saudi Arabia
March 12, 2014 2:22 PM
This is a revolution... we reject Islamic theocracy, we reject Muslim Brotherhood filthy ideology, we reject Hamas and Hizbullah. I am a proud Turk. I used to be so afraid talking about the filth and corruption of my government. Turkey, my beloved country, has become an islamic cesspool of corruption and disintegration. I had to run away from my beloved country to feel secure. i served 12 years in military - until I found out that we are facilitating Al Qaeda in Syria and Hamas in Gaza and Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This is a revolution... we want our country back

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs