Europe

Turkey Kurds: Boy Mehmet Ezer critically injured

  • 26 March 2014
  • From the section Europe
Turkish riot police at a Kurdish New Year celebration in Istanbul, 23 March
Turkish riot police, like these in Istanbul, were on duty on Sunday for Kurdish New Year celebrations

A boy aged 10 has been critically injured after reportedly being hit by a police tear gas canister at a rally in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir.

His father, Nazmi Ezer, told BBC News his son had been hit at close range at the end of the rally held by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party.

A photo taken in hospital shows the child with his face covered in blood.

The death of another boy hit by a tear gas canister, after a nine-month coma, sparked protests earlier this month.

The Peace and Democracy Party has been campaigning in a mayoral election to be held in Diyarbakir, in south-west Turkey, on Sunday.

Among the party's demands is the establishment of a regional parliament in the city as a move towards autonomy for the Kurds.

The Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, has been on ceasefire for a year.

But frustration is growing among Turkish Kurds at the slow pace of the reforms they expected in return for peace.

More than 40,000 people have died since the PKK launched its insurgency 30 years ago.

'At close range'

In the latest incident, the 10-year-old, Mehmet Ezer, apparently ventured outside after the rally ended peacefully on Tuesday.

"We were at home with his mother," his father said.

"Suddenly he wasn't at home. Apparently my son went out in the street along with other kids. He was shot at from a short distance. This is what people next to him were telling me."

Mr Ezer said doctors had told him his child would have to remain in intensive care for 24 hours for his condition to be assessed.

"My message to the authorities is this: enough is enough," he said.

"He is just a child in the end. What can a child do? Was it necessary for them to shoot at him?"

Interior Minister Efkan Ala launched an inquiry, saying action would be taken if anyone was found to be at fault.

Another boy, Berkin Elvan, was 14 when he was struck in the head by a canister during mass unrest over the redevelopment of an Istanbul district, Gezi Park, in June. He had reportedly been on his way to buy bread at the time.

When he died on 11 March, having turned 15, the news drew demonstrators out in cities across Turkey, with crowds chanting "Berkin Elvan was only 15".

He was one of thousands of people to be hurt during last year's protests. Demonstrators were initially angered by plans to raze Gezi Park but a police crackdown galvanised anti-government demonstrators in several cities.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in power for nearly 13 years, was widely criticised for his hard line towards protesters.

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