A funeral procession for a 15-year-old boy attracted tens of thousands to the streets of Istanbul Wednesday morning, with mourners calling for the resignation of a prime minister whose policies they blame for the teenager’s death.
Berkin Elvan — who had been in a coma since June after being struck in the head by a teargas canister aimed at anti-government activists — died Tuesday. His death sparked demonstrations across Turkey that continued after the boy’s funeral.
With chants of “Government, resign,” mourners expressed anger at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown on demonstrators in Istanbul’s Gezi Park last summer.
Erdoğan has been the subject of frequent demonstrations over allegations of corruption and authoritarian behavior. This latest round comes less than three weeks before Turkish municipal elections. At a campaign rally, Erdoğan called on citizens to make their voices heard at the ballot box, not on the streets.
“Trying to set fire to the streets 18 days before elections is not a democratic stance,” he said.
Meanwhile, members of the European Parliament met in Strasbourg Tuesday and denounced what they saw as faults of Erdoğan’s rule, including restrictions on Internet use, the imprisonment of journalists, and political control of judges.
At least three protesters have been reported injured in skirmishes with riot police, who have appeared across the country with water cannons and tear gas.