Turkey clashes reported as boy's funeral held

Police fire tear-gas at protesters among tens of thousands in Istanbul mourning boy injured in riots last year.

    Protesters have clashed with police in Turkey, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets to mourn a teenage boy who died from injuries sustained during last year's anti-government protests.

    On Wednesday, riot police fired tear-gas and water cannon at protesters in the capital Ankara, while in Istanbul, crowds shouting anti-government slogans lit a fire as they made their way to a cemetery for the burial of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan.

    Elvan, who died in an Istanbul hospital on Tuesday after 269 days in a coma, was hit on the head by a tear-gas canister while going to buy bread during the protests against the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, last June.

    "Berkin's murderers are the AKP police," protesters shouted in Istanbul, referring to Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party.

    "The rage of mothers will suffocate the killers," screamed others as they marched through the streets after Elvan's funeral.

    Hospital battle

    Turkish riot police had fired tear-gas at nearly 1,000 protesters on Tuesday who gathered outside the hospital in Istanbul where Elvan died.

    The story of Elvan gripped the nation and became a symbol of the heavy-handed tactics used by police to rein in the biggest demonstrations that Erdogan had faced since coming to power in 2003.

    Police used tear-gas and water cannon after several dozen protesters hurled stones at a police bus and stole helmets and shields, an AFP photographer said, adding that one demonstrator was injured.

    Human Rights Watch charged that police violence against demonstrators was an "endemic problem" in Turkey.

    Protests last year started as a small environmentalist movement to save an Istanbul park from being razed, but snowballed into a national wave of protests against Erdogan, who critics say had become increasingly authoritarian.

    Elvan's death brought the toll from the unrest to at least eight, including a policeman.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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