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Teen's death revives Turkish street demonstrations

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By Ali Abaday
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 1:51 p.m.

ISTANBUL, Turkey — The death on Tuesday of a 15-year-old boy who accidentally got caught in the fighting between protesters and police here last summer has revived street demonstrations.

Berkin Elvan had been in a coma since June 2013, when he was struck in the head by a gas canister during a police crackdown on protesters. He had been on an errand to buy bread just as police moved against protesters in Istanbul's Okmeydani neighborhood.

Elvan had since become a prime symbol in Turkey of the violence faced by protesters throughout nationwide demonstrations.

His family announced Elvan's death via Twitter: “To our people: We lost our son Berkin Elvan at 7 a.m. in the morning. Condolences to us all.”

Separately, his mother Gülsüm Elvan criticized the ruling government for her son's death.

“It is not Allah who has taken my son away,” she said. “It is [Prime Minister Recep] Tayyip Erdogan.”

Erdogan had memorably praised police for “heroic action” during the Gezi resistance in June, despite deaths and serious injuries sustained by protesters.

Since Elvan's death, university students and protesters have taken to the streets in cities around the country. In Istanbul, two separate groups of protesters are publicly mourning his death, with police trying to control the crowds by shutting down access to some streets.

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