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Istanbul police attack peaceful demonstrators once again

17 November 2013

A group of peaceful demonstrators, gathered outside Istanbul’s Caglayan courthouse was dispersed by police yesterday.

Once again the police resorted to the use of tear gas and water cannons to break up a peaceful demonstration.

The protesters were gathered in front the courthouse to demand justice for the grievous injury sustained by a 14 year old boy, who still remains in a coma five months after being struck on the head by a gas canister during the Gezi Park unrest.

Berkin Elvan had only left his home to buy bread and was not part of any demonstration on June 16th. Eye witnesses claim that police fired a tear gas cannister at the boy, seriously injuring him. Last week, he underwent a fourth round of surgery but still remains unconscious.

The protestors outside the courthouse were led by the Taksim Solidarity Platform who read out a statement calling for those responsible to be brought to justice.

Police, numbering around 50 then launched an attack using two water cannons, tear gas and plastic bullets.

One woman trying to escape the police’s riot vehicles (TOMA), broke her leg and was transferred to hospital. Police chased the protesters trying to reach public transport stations. 18 protesters were taken into custody.

In the meantime, a lawyer for Elvan’s family, Evrim Deniz Karatana, filed a criminal complaint on 15th November against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Interior Minister Muammer Guler, Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu and Istanbul Police Chief Huseyin Capkin on charges of the attempted murder of Berkin Elvan.

Protests in Istanbul began when a small campaign to save Gezi Park’s 600 trees from being razed in a redevelopment project was met with a brutal police response on May 31st.

The violence sparked widespread anger and snowballed into mass demonstrations against Prime Minister Erdogan, seen as increasingly authoritarian, before culminating in another crackdown on Gezi Park.

Four people have been killed and nearly 8,000 injured in the turmoil, according to the Turkish Medical Association.

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