Gezi victim Berkin Elvan remembered four years after his death

Around 100 people attended a ceremony in Istanbul to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old who died after he was struck in the head with a teargas canister during the 2013 Gezi Park protests, the biggest anti-government demonstrations seen since Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.

Elvan spent 269 days in a coma after he was hit as he went out to get bread in the Okmeydanı neighbourhood of Istanbul on June 16, 2013 and died on March 11, 2014.

The investigation into his death took more than three years and in December 2017, a court ruled police officer Fatih Dalgalı, identified via face recognition technology, should be tried for voluntary manslaughter.

The police searched everyone attending the ceremony at Feriköy cemetery in Istanbul on Sunday and detained one person holding a banner reading “Berkin Elvan is immortal!”, Cumhuriyet newspaper said.

“Those who try to spread lies over the dead body of a child should be ashamed. Those who try to cling on to power through hostility towards a young boy’s dead body should be ashamed,” lawyer Can Atalay told those assembled at the cemetery, according to a video posted on Turkish news site

Elvan’s father Sami Elvan complained of the lack of justice and pointed the finger at President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, prime minister at the time of the protests.

“I go to the palace of justice. It is an empty palace. I return from there everyday. We had the fifth hearing. Everybody knows, everybody sees. The identity of the killer is clear. The real killer, he occupies the most important position. I say this with capital letters. ‘I gave the orders,’ he said. ‘My police forces wrote history,’ he said. He is my child’s killer. If you gave the orders, then you are the killer,” Sami Elvan said.

As the protests that began as a sit-in over the demolition of a small Istanbul park spread to major cities across the country, Erdoğan called the police who forcibly put down the demonstrations heroes and denounced Gezi protestors as vandals. He also accused Berkin Elvan of being linked to terrorist organisations and, during an election rally right after the boy’s funeral, exhorted crowds to boo Berkin's mother, Gülsüm Elvan.

Gülsüm Elvan also spoke yesterday during the ceremony. “What goes around, comes around. The day will come when they will pay for what they did,” she said.