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15-year-old Gezi victim Berkin Elvan dies after 269 days in coma

Berkin Elvan, who has been in a coma since June 2013 after being struck in the head by a gas canister during a police crackdown on protesters, died today.

15 year old Berkin, the eighth person to be killed in the Gezi Park protests, went into a coma after sustaining a head injury from a gas canister as he went to buy bread during a police crackdown in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood last June. ‘Berkin’ has since become one of the prime symbols violence faced by protesters throughout the nationwide Gezi demonstrations.

Scores of people gathered in front of the hospital where Elvan was convalescent for over nine months, in a show of solidarity with the family upon calls on social media. Tension rose between a group of demonstrators and the police, which again resorted to tear gas regardless of the fact that the hospital’s entrance was nearby.

The teenager’s parents were shattered when they joined activists keeping vigil for Berkin. “It is not Allah who has taken my son away. It is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” said the mother, Gülsüm Elvan.

Erdoğan had memorably praised police for “heroic action” during the Gezi resistance last June, despite the murdered victims and serious injuries sustained due to the repeated brutal crackdowns on protesters.

Lawyers representing the family had said Elvan’s condition worsened over the last week, with his weight dropping to 16 kilos from 45 kilos. Elvan suffered an epileptic fit on March 6, his heart stopped a day later.

In Istanbul, DISK members will leave workplaces and join his funeral tomorrow. Also labour movement is joining several demonstrations in his memorium.