UK & World News

  • 12 March 2014, 18:03

Turkey: Clashes Erupt During Teen's Funeral

Police have clashed with protesters in several cities across Turkey following the funeral of a teenager who died from injuries suffered during violent anti-government demonstrations last year.

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons to stop thousands of protesters reaching Istanbul's Taksim square, the focus of last summer's anti-government movement.

Police were forced to take shelter after demonstrators hit back with fireworks and stones. 

Violence erupted shortly after tens of thousands of people marched alongside the funeral procession for 15-year-old Berkin Elvan. 

Mourners carried his coffin to the site where he was injured and on to the cemetery.

Many chanted "Berkin Elvan is immortal", while others shouted "government resign" and "murderer Tayyip", referring to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Clashes were also reported in Ankara and the Aegean port city of Izmir, where thousands gathered in solidarity. Police fired tear gas at protesters in both cities.

Berkin died in a hospital in Istanbul on Tuesday after spending almost nine months in a coma.

He was struck in the head by a police gas canister while on his way to buy bread for his family during an anti-government rally on June 16, 2012.

Clashes between protesters and police also broke out in several cities on Tuesday after news of his death broke.

Berkin's case has caused widespread anger in Turkey, with many seeing it as a symbol of the heavy-handed tactics used by police.

His death brings the number of people killed during last summer's protests to at least eight.

The demonstrations, which began as a small environmental protest against plans to demolish an Istanbul park, grew to mass rallies against Mr Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule.

His government has since been hit by widespread corruption allegations, which have prompted the removal of police and prosecutors from key positions. 

The latest unrest comes ahead of key local elections, considered a referendum on his 11 years in power.

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