Hamdi Firat BuyukSarajevoBIRNFebruary 7, 202315:42The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkish officials’ investigation into the death of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan after being hit by a tear-gas canister fired by police during the Gezi Park protests in 2013 was ineffective.

Turkey Censured Over Teenager Killed by Police Tear-Gas Canister

The coffin of Berkin Elvan, who died after 296 days in a coma, at a ceremony in Istanbul, March 2014. Photo: EPA/SEDAT SUNA

Europe’s top human rights court ruled on Tuesday that Turkish authorities’ investigation into 15-year-old Berkin Elvan’s death due to an injury caused by a tear-gas canister fired by police in Istanbul in 2013 was ineffective.

The European Court of Human Rights, ECHR unanimously agreed that the boy’s right to life under the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated.

“The court found in particular that there had been a failure on the part of the Turkish authorities to fulfil their procedural obligation, under Article 2 of the Convention (right to life), to conduct an effective investigation into any part that Istanbul’s law-enforcement director and/or governor might have played in relation to the death of Berkin Elvan,” the ECHR said in a statement.

The court also found that Turkey had breached its obligation under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to carry out an effective investigation into any part that Istanbul’s law-enforcement director Huseyin Capkin and governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu might have played in relation to the death.

The boy was hit by the tear-gas canister during the Gezi Park protests, which started in defence of a park near Istanbul’s landmark Taksim Square that the authorities planned to build on.

In a short time, the protests grew into a nationwide outpouring of anger against the increasingly authoritarian and political Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

They became a nationwide challenge to Erdogan, and were met by a police crackdown in which at least nine people died and thousands were injured and detained.

The ECHR wrote in his ruling that a police officer from an elite team known as Zet fired in the direction of the boy on June 16, 2013. According to his relatives, he was going to fetch bread near his house at the time.

He was hit in the head by the canister and was taken to hospital, where he remained in a coma for 269 days. He died on March 11, 2014 of skull fractures resulting in a brain haemorrhage.

Berkin Elvan became one of the symbols of the Gezi Park protests and nationwide demonstrations were organised in 2014 after his death.

Erdogan described the protests as a coup attempt and claimed they were organised with the help of foreign powers and the US billionaire philanthropist George Soros, founder of the Open Society Foundations.

In April 2022, a former board member of Open Society Foundation in Turkey and human rights activist, Osman Kavala, was sentenced to life in prison for attempting to overthrow the government by financing the 2013 Gezi Park protests.

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