The funeral for Berkin Elvan, a teenager originally injured during protests last summer, has brought thousands of Turks to the streets. Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Erdogan, whom many blame for Elvan's death.
In Ankara on Wednesday, police used water cannons and tear gas to break of groups of protesters who had gathered on the city's central Kizilay square to protest on the day of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old boy who was injured last summer during a conflict between police and demonstrators and had been in a coma ever since. He was struck in the head by a police tear gas canister.
Estimates of up to ten thousand people are being reported at gatherings in Istanbul, where the funeral is being held.
Elvan's death on Tuesday resulted in renewed clashes between police and protesters outside of the hospital where he died. Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters there as well.
Following Elvan's funeral, demonstrators have planned a march through Istanbul that will call on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign. Erdogan has previously said he would step down if his party, which has been in power since 2002, loses local elections scheduled for the end of the month.
The demonstrations last summer originally centered on plans to develop a park in Istanbul. When Elvan – out buying bread for his family – was caught in the crossfire between police and protesters, outrage quickly spread over his injury and subsequent coma. Protesters placed the blame on police for heavy-handed tactics and also on Erdogan, and the movement has taken on an anti-government angle ever since.
Elvan's death after 269 days in a coma brought the death toll of the unrest to at least seven, including one police officer.
mz/hc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)