Unrest in Turkey after Death of Teenage Gezi Park Protest Victim

World | March 12, 2014, Wednesday // 12:01
Bulgaria: Unrest in Turkey after Death of Teenage Gezi Park Protest Victim Fireworks thrown by protesters against Turkish riot police explodes and illuminates the scene during a demonstration in Istanbul, Turkey, 11 March 2014, Photo by EPA/BGNES

Turkish police used tear gas to disperse protests caused by the death of 15-year-old boy Berkin Elvan.

Last summer, while waling to buy bread, Elvan was struck in the head by a tear gas canister during what has often been described as the biggest demonstrations against Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan since his coming to power in 2003.

In Istanbul, about 1000 people gathered outside the hospital where the teenager died on Tuesday after having spent 269 days in a coma, as Al Jazeera English reports.

Water cannon and tear gas were brought into action after demonstrators started hurling stones at a police bus and stole helmets and shields. One protester was injured.

About 2000 people gathered in Turkey's capital Ankara, chanting "Government of Erdogan, government of corruption, resign, resign". Small clashes erupted in side streets between police and some of the protesters. 

Antalya, Izmir and other cities in Turkey also saw pockets of unrest on Tuesday evening.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul appealed for calm ahead of Elvan's funeral, which is to take place in Istanbul on Wednesday.

Gul described the 15-year-old as a victim to "the atmosphere of hatred", which "is undermining society's need for love and peace and efforts to understand one another", as the BBC quoted him as saying.

Elvan is the eighth victim of protests that began last year, after the government announced that Istanbul's Gezi park would be razed and buildings would take part of its territory.

This sparked the anger of environmentalists, who were later joined by people opposing Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian stance, and rapidly turned into a nationwide wave of demonstrations against the Prime Minister and his ruling Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP.

Estimates by police show that during these protests, some 2.5 million people took to the streets in 80 towns over three weeks.

After being injured with the gas canister, the boy became a symbol to police violence in Turkey, an "endemic problem" in Turkey, according to reports by Human Rights Watch.

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Tags: turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AKP, Gezi park, protests, Istanbul, Berkin Elvan
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