Press releases, 12 March 2014
Amnesty International is monitoring events at the funeral old 15-year-old Berkin Elvan in Istanbul as thousands gather in cities across Turkey to protest ongoing police impunity.
Berkin Elvan, died in hospital yesterday following a protracted coma. He was hit on the head on 16 June 2013 at the scene of a Gezi park demonstration close to his home in Istanbul. His father told Amnesty International that he had left the house to buy bread.
Amnesty International’s expert on Turkey Andrew Gardner is monitoring events at the funeral and is available for interviews.
“The death of Berkin Elvan must be a wake-up call for the Turkish authorities who have condoned abusive force by the police for too long,” said Andrew Gardner.
“Berkin is the fourth person to die as a direct result of abusive use of force by police officers during last year’s Gezi Park protests. The lack of effective investigations into the use of such force which also left thousands injured has touched a nerve and resulted in a wave of anti-government demonstrations which are sweeping Turkey again.”
Berkin’s injuries were consistent with being hit by a tear gas canister. Police firing tear gas canisters were around 20-25 metres from him at the time he sustained the injuries.
In the nine months that have passed, the police officers responsible for firing the tear gas canister have not been identified. The protracted and ineffective investigation into his case is typical of those opened following allegations of police abuses during the weeks of Gezi Park protests. In response to the thousands of complaints only two criminal prosecutions have been opened against police officers.
Last night protests were reported in 31 cities across Turkey, some involving clashes between protesters and police using tear gas and water cannon.
Turkey: Gezi Park protests: Brutal denial of the right to peaceful assembly in Turkey