Losing the battle after 269 days in coma, a 15 years old child was murdered by the hateful, merciless government of Turkey on March 11, 2014. On his way to buy a loaf of bread in Istanbul, Berkin Elvan had been shot in the head with a gas canister by an unidentified riot police on June 15, 2013. His last words were: “Unlike you, I can run fast away from the tear gas mom. Let me buy the bread”, Halil Gurhanli writes.
Berkin weighted just 16 kilos when Turkey’s vampiric government was finally done with sucking the life out of him. Berkin’s is the 8th life this murderous beast has claimed since the beginning of Gezi Protests on 30 May 2013, along with the thousands of injured protestors who have been scarred for life.
In a despicable attempt to save their skin as well as that of their masters, police officers and mainstream Turkish media showed a few packs of bubble gum in Berkin’s tiny pockets as “evidence”. In a hastily prepared report, they blatantly lied that those were “explosive components found on Berkin’s body at the time he was brought to the hospital.”
Contrary to widespread international criticism and reports condemning them as “the brutal denial of the right to peaceful assembly in Turkey”, Turkish PM Erdogan praised abominable acts by the riot police as “epic” and proudly admitted that he personally gave the order. This was the same PM who accused his Israeli counterpart of “knowing very well how to kill Palestinian children” only a few years ago.
Make no mistake though. There has been no change in the Turkish government’s stance since then. If possible, it got even worse. Thousands more have been taken into custody, arrested or lost their jobs for taking part in the protests. Government has tightened its grip over media, internet and judiciary to the point of suffocation, working very hard to leave no space for civil society and social criticisms to exist against its increasingly authoritarian and corrupted rule. Those who gathered around Turkey to remember Berkin are still beaten, gassed and arrested at this very moment.
As thousands march in Istanbul for Berkin’s funeral, a silent memorial and protest event was held also in Helsinki on March 11th to remember those who have suffered and continue to suffer under Turkey’s increasingly oppressive and corrupted regime. As a gesture to honor Berkin’s memory, protestors left candles and bread on the pavement opposite the Turkish Embassy on Puistokatu.
Considered in tandem with the immense loss of legitimacy on the government’s part following the widespread corruption scandals that reach all the way to the top, incontrovertible contrast between the pure innocence surrounding Berkin’s short life and the wicked evilness of those who ended it brings to mind maybe the oldest question in the history of liberal thinking: when is it acceptable to rebel against the sovereigns?
As the desperate act of self-immolation by Mohamed Bouazizi crystalized the dark pit many Tunisians found themselves in and kindled the light of a legitimate, democratic uprising against Ben Ali’s tyrannical regime, Berkin’s murder has the potential to become a deeply saddening yet possibly hopeful sign that Turkey has finally reached the point of no return, where the innocence has been lost and the only way to regain it is plunging deeper into the abyss. Built on the daring experiences of Summer 2013, many around the country have once again united in their struggle to call the government to account for its deeds, not least for the murder of a child who ran to the bakery for a loaf of bread.