Police officers in riot-gear turned water cannons on civilians in an attempt to stop an angry demonstration on Wednesday after news circulated that a teenager, who was wounded during street riots last year, reportedly died on Tuesday, according to former Middle East police adviser and training officer, Larry Arkajian.
Violent protesters marched alongside the thousands of mourners as they walked to the memorial ceremony for 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, who laid in a Turkish hospital bed for nine months in a coma until finally succumbing to his wounds on Tuesday.
Turkey's unpopular Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, told news reporters that the demonstrations were meant to delay elections scheduled for March 30, according to Middle East news media.
Besides the protests in Istanbul, police officers in the capital city of Ankara used tear gas in order to disperse thousands of protesters who were angry with Prime Minister Erdogan for his "velvet glove-iron fist" use of police officers last summer when protesters demanded Erdogan's resignation.
Erdogan is also accused of widespread corruption and he angered many Turks when he fired police officials and prosecutors, who were willing to investigate and possibly prosecute Erdogan, and replaced them with officials loyal to him.
Last summer’s protests began as a small sit-in by environmentalists who opposed a government shutdown of an Istanbul city park. The small gathering then turned violent and its focus widened to include anti-Erdogan protesters.
During those protests, Human Rights Watch claimed that protesters sustained head wounds and loss of eyesight when teargas canisters struck protesters. HRW claims that the firing of tear gas by Turkish police directly at protesters violates international legal standards.
"Nine months on there has been no effective investigation into the police for fatally injuring Berkin Elvan or for the serious head injuries incurred by dozens of others," stated a Human Rights Watch report.