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Berkin Elvan

The farce of children’s rights in Turkey

If Berkin Elvan’s killer cannot be found, hasn’t Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made Turkey a terrible place to be a child?

If Berkin Elvan’s killer cannot be found, hasn’t Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made Turkey a terrible place to be a child?

Berkin Elvan

It doesn’t matter why he was out on the streets of Istanbul that night.

What we know is that Berkin Elvan was struck on the head at terrific speed by a tear gas canister early in the morning of 16 June 2013. The canister was fired by police at close range, like so many others during Turkey’s summer of unrest.

He spent 269 days in a coma before finally succumbing to his injuries this morning. His dad Sami insists Berkin had been sent out to buy a loaf of bread. The authorities say he was active part of the protests.

But Berkin’s motive is not important.

He died after police fired a gas canister at his head. There will be no punishment for the officer who pulled the trigger. Worse, there’s not even a way of finding out who pulled the trigger.

Worse still, Berkin was just 15 years old. A child under Turkish law.

In a message published on the Turkish prime minister’s website, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks of his ambition for the country’s children: “On the one hand, we are working night and day to create better opportunities and conditions for you. On the other, we are taking care not dishearten you and your dreams for the future.”

He continues: “We want the joy of life in your hearts never to disappear. We want you never to give up trusting and believing in your country and your nation.”

Forget what everyone has said. Forget the declarations of martyrdom. Forget that this is the eighth Gezi-related death.

Just consider two cold, hard facts. The Turkish state killed a 15-year-old child. It refuses to investigate who did it or why it happened.

How can Recep Tayyip Erdoğan not be ashamed of himself?