'Everywhere is Resistance': Turkey Protests Flare Following Death of Teen
Anti-government protests on the rise again as police, protesters clash after funeral of boy killed following demonstration
Mass protests in Turkey have flared up once again following the death of a boy who died Tuesday night from an injury inflicted by police during last summer's country-wide wave of protests.
Tens of thousands of protesters filled the streets of Istanbul Wednesday to mourn the death of Berkin Elvan, 15, whose death followed 269 days in a coma after having sustained a blow to the head by a tear gas canister fired by police.
"Berkin's murderers are the AKP police," said the protesters in reference to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), whose policies have sparked mass unrest in the country.
"The rage of mothers will suffocate the killers," some yelled outside the site of Elvan's funeral. The crowds chanted, "Tayyip! Killer!" and "Everywhere is Berkin, everywhere is resistance" while many held up photos of Elvan.
The funeral followed a night of protests and clashes which spread to 32 towns and cities across the country upon the announcement of Elvan's death. The protests maintained the same anti-AKP sentiment of last year's mass protests, which drew international attention and gained momentum in the face of the police's heavy-handed tactics. Roughly 2.5 million people took part in those protests which were sparked over the course of three weeks in June, demanding Erdogan's resignation. Over 8,000 people were injured, according to medics.
"It's not God who took my son away but Prime Minister Erdogan," Elvan's mother told reporters on Tuesday.
"How many young people have to die for Erdogan to resign? My only wish is for this fascism to end without spilling more blood," said retired worker Atilla Izmirlioglu.
Heavy-handed police tactics showed no sign of easing Wednesday, as police fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters in the capital Ankara and reports of similar clashes in Istanbul and other cities surfaced on social media following the funeral.
Erdogan has vowed to step down if the AKP loses power in upcoming local elections scheduled for March 30th. On the campaign trail Wednesday Erdogan addressed a rally in the city of Siirt but did not mention Elvan's death and referred to last year's protests as a coalition of "anarchists, terrorists and vandals."
However those in the street rejected Erdogan's sentiment. "The lack of compassion, the polarizing attitude of the prime minister and the fact that he behaves like an autocrat is what brought us here," one protester told Reuters at Wednesday's funeral.