By Phillipa Wilkinson
SOAS students held a demonstration on Wednesday to show solidarity with protests in Turkey over the death of teenager Berkin Elvan. About 50 students occupied the space in front of SOAS at lunch time with posters and drums to chant slogans against Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan and the actions of police.
The peaceful protest, which did not have a permit, was organised across Facebook and involved a number of Turkish groups in London. SOAS PhD student Serap said that protesting police violence in her native Turkey was not just political but “important to me as a human.” Drummer Erkan added that the demonstration was to show “solidarity and support” for those protesting an increasingly authoritarian state and excessive police violence.
Berkin Elvin, 14, was hit in the head by a gas canister while buying bread during last summer’s Gezi Park protests, and spent 269 days in a coma before passing away on Tuesday 10th March. Thousands of people attended his funeral in Istanbul, then clashed with riot police using rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon. Protests also took place in Izmir and Ankara, according to Reuters. A protester and a police officer died during the protests, with both sides accusing the other of undermining democracy.