Thousands of mourners gathered together today in central Istanbul for the funeral of 15 year old Berkin Elvan who died from a head wound received during the Gezi Park demonstrations last June.
The young boy who had only slipped out to buy bread for his family was inadvertently caught up in the battle between police and protesters by being struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by a policeman.
For the next 269 days young Berkin remained in a coma despite having at least five rounds of surgery to try and save him. By last week he had lost over two thirds of his body weight. He was too weak to survive any longer and died yesterday.
Following the news of his death, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in several Turkish cities overnight and again, met with riot police who fired water cannon and tear gas on the crowds.
Elvan was the sixth person to die in violence surrounding protests, rife across Turkey, in late May and June over Prime Minister Erdogan’s plans to build a shopping mall over one of the last green spaces – Gezi Park, in central Istanbul. Those protests quickly turned into Turkey’s biggest anti-government demonstration in years in the midst of discontent with Erdogan’s 11-year rule.