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Turkey’s Ombudsman condemns gas canister attack on young protester

21 November 2013

Turkey’s Ombudsman published a report on 20th November stating that both the governor of Istanbul and the police were at fault for the severe injuries inflicted on a young protester by the impact of a tear gas canister launched during the May Day demonstrations.

Ombudsman Nihat Omeroglu, reported that the police officer deploying the gas canister acted in contravention of the framework founded by the European Convention of Human Rights. He also accused Istanbul Governor Huseyin Mutlu of attempting to discredit the injured protester by alleging that she was a member of illegal groups.

17-year-old high school student, Dilan Alp was struck in the head by a tear gas canister after being chased, along with her friends, by the police in the narrow alleys near Istanbul’s central Taksim Square. The incident was captured on video footage in which Alp was seen lying unconscious in front of an apartment where she was trying to take refuge after being struck as tear gas continued to rise from the canister right in front of her face.

Her family decided to apply to the Ombudsman and file a formal complaint against Governor Mutlu and the police department.

Dilan had been accused by the governor of throwing Molotov cocktails at security forces, showing footage of her carrying a bottle in one hand as alleged evidence. However, following analysis of the footage by some members of the media, it was claimed that the bottle only contained vinegar which was used by protesters against the effects of tear gas.

“In the records in question although Dilan [Alp] is seen at the side of protesters throwing stones [at the police], there is no record showing Dilan throwing a Molotov [cocktail]. It can be said that whether she was holding a bottle of vinegar or a Molotov cocktail in her hand has not been determined,” the report said.

The report also says that police officers fired 15 times from a distance that was too short, according to the regulations and therefore had committed a violation of law.

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