Lawsuit filed against Erdoğan for harsh comments about slain Berkin Elvan

Lawsuit filed against Erdoğan for harsh comments about slain Berkin Elvan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (Photo: Cihan)

March 17, 2014, Monday/ 17:00:00

A complaint was filed against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday in response to shocking comments he made about Berkin Elvan, a teenager who died as a result of an injury sustained when he was hit in the head by a police tear gas canister during the Gezi Park protests last summer.

Erdoğan is accused of inciting hatred and animosity in public in the petition submitted to the İstanbul Public Prosecutor's Office by the People's Houses (Halkevleri), a civil society group.

Fifteen year-old Elvan, who weighted only 16 kilograms when he died last week following a 269-day- coma, was on his way to buy bread on the morning of June 16 when he was hit at a close range with a tear gas canister fired by riot police in İstanbul's Okmeydanı neighborhood during a protest.

Elvan's death sparked public outrage and sporadic clashes broke out between protesters and police after thousands of people poured into the streets across the country in more than 20 provinces. Twenty-two-year-old Burak Can Karamanoğlu was shot and killed at the site of a crowded protest in İstanbul last week following Elvan's funeral, for which the left-wing terrorist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) subsequently claimed responsibility.

Thousands of people, Elvan's parents and the opposition parties hold Erdoğan responsible for the Elvan's death, noting that the police were complying with Erdoğan's orders to intervene during the protests last summer.

Speaking at a public rally on Friday, Erdoğan claimed that Elvan was a member of a terrorist organization and had covered his face with a scarf. Erdoğan justified the police action, saying that it was impossible for the police officer to know how old Elvan was. He also said that Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), is "lying as always," when he claims that Elvan was going to buy bread. Erdoğan also publicly criticized Elvan's parents for blaming the prime minister for the death of their son.

He told those attending for his campaign rally, “Don't be fooled [into thinking] that these people gathered together for the funeral of a kid. … They particularly want to damage our economy, peace and the settlement process," Erdoğan said.

The petition referred to this speech and said: “Erdoğan committed a crime by inciting hatred and hostility among the public with his speech at the rally. He stigmatized Berkin -- whose funeral was attended by millions -- as a terrorist and said the slain youngster, Burak Can Karamanoğlu, who was shot dead on the same day was a ‘martyr'.”

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