Two of Turkey’s biggest cities descended into chaos on Tuesday after the death of a young boy who was hit on the head during protests last year. Mourners and demonstrators gathered in Istanbul and Ankara, the country’s two biggest cities, leading to violent clashes with police, who fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Berkin Elvan became an unwitting victim of the protests in June last year when he was struck by a tear gas canister. The then-14-year-old, who became embroiled in the street battles having only left the house to buy some bread, slipped into a coma shortly after the incident. On Tuesday it was announced that he had died, with his coffin carried through the street draped in red carnations.
Having become an icon of the anti-government protests, Elvan’s death sparked thousands to take to the streets. The demonstrators in Ankara chanted: “Government of Erdogan, government of corruption, resign resign". Similar scenes were witnessed in the capital, where a social media campaign encouraged the protesters to leave their homes and rally against the beleaguered government.