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Turkish protesters suffer burns from water cannons

18 June 2013

Stories have emerged that Turkish riot police added a gas to the water cannons during the weekend police action at Gezi Park, which causes burns and respiratory problems.

The substance, which was photographed as police officers added it to water cannons, is “highly dangerous,” according to the doctors, while lawyer Omer Kavili described the use of this substance as a “crime against humanity.”

Many photos have been shared on social media showing people with burnt skins because of the water used by riot vehicles (TOMA).

However according to Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu’s earlier remarks, the water used in the TOMAs is “Not chemical, but medicated water. Our citizens have got used to this water.”

The substance used in the TOMAs is described as “OC gas solution,” namely Jenix, on its plastic can, which refers to liquid tear gas.

It causes “first degree burns” and causes damage to the skin similar to the effects of tear gas on respiration, according to Dr. Umit Unuvar, a member of the Forensic Medicine Experts Association.

“Keep away from children. Do not spread over a broad area. Do not spill over canalization, underground or surface water. Prevent contact with skin and eyes,” the warning on the plastic can reads, adding that skin should be washed with a large amount of water in case of contact.

OC gas solution creates redness and swelling of the skin. Its effects depend on the amount used and the manner in which it comes into contact with the skin.

On a legal basis, Lawyer Omer Kavili described the use of this gas solution as a “crime.”

“The substance added to the water [used in the TOMAs] is a chemical substance. I have seen this used on ten or eleven-year-old children during my duty in the Istanbul Bar. The children’s skins were burned beneath their clothes,” he said.

“The use of this substance is a crime. The vendor should inform the customer about the consequences of this substance and those who used this substance despite the warning on the can should immediately be investigated,” Kavili says.

“The use of this substance is ‘torture and inhuman crime,’ according to the article 94 of the Turkish Criminal Code,” he added. However Prime Minister Erdogan has claimed that the police action was within the law.

Meanwhile, a response from the company producing Jenix gas solution has confirmed that it has been used in the TOMAs for years during protests in southern Turkey as well as in Istanbul and Ankara.

It is produced in conformity with technical specifications determined by the security forces, he said.

“It is not directly added to the water but it is put in a separate tank, the police can manage its amount while using it,” he said, adding that it has become controversial as the police “might have used it over the dosage.”

 

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