Riot police have attacked protesters outside an Istanbul hospital during new demonstrations folowing the death of a 15-year-old boy wounded in mass anti-government protests last year.
On Tuesday, police used tear gas against several dozen protesters, injuring at least one. About 1,000 people massed outside the hospital after the death of Berkin Elvan, hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired by police as he walked to buy bread for his family during the mass protests that swept Turkey last May and June.
Authorities have not prosecuted the police officer or officers responsible for hitting Elvan, then 14, with the tear gas canister - and, now, for killing the boy. Speaking to reporters outside the hospital on Tuesday, the boy's mother, Gulsum, challenged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who had praised police "heroism" during the protests.
"It's not God who took my son away, but Prime Minister Erdogan," she said through tears Tuesday.
On Monday, Elvan's family had called for a vigil outside the hospital in response to the boy's deteriorating condition. Police also broke up that vigil using tear gas.
Major anti-Erdogan protests
Elvan spent 269 days in a coma. His story gripped the nation and became a symbol of the heavy-handed tactics used by police to reign in the biggest demonstrations against Erdogan since he came to power in 2003.
The protests began as environmentalist demonstrations to save an Istanbul park and turned into a nationwide wave of dissent against Erdogan, who critics say has become increasingly authoritarian. An estimated 2.5 million people took to the streets across Turkey over three weeks in June to demand Erdogan's resignation.
The melees that followed violent police crackdowns injured more than 8,000 people, according to medics. Elvan's death on Tuesday brought the total of those killed in the unrest to at least seven, including a policeman.
mkg/hc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)