The life of a victim of the Gezi protests in 2013, who was fatally beaten by police and supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was commemorated in Turkey’s southern Hatay province, T24 news site reported on Wednesday.
The commemoration of Ali Ismail Korkmaz was held at his grave at the Antakya Ekinci Cemetery and was attended by a group including Korkmaz’s family – mother Emel Korkmaz, father Sahap Korkmaz, brother Gurkan Korkmaz – and family of Abdullah Comert, another Gezi victim in Hatay protests.
Korkmaz’s family thanked the participants, saying, “So glad that we have you and you are with us. It has been six years since Ali has gone. However, thousands of Alis were born. Many have become Ali’s mothers, fathers, and brothers.”
Korkmaz, a 19-year-old university student, died on July 10, 2013. He was in a coma for 38 days after being fatally beaten by a group of police officers and civilian supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during an anti-government Gezi protests in Eskisehir, a Central Anatolian province where he was studying at the department of English teaching at the Anadolu University.
He was beaten while he was running away from police who had used teargas.
After being beaten, officials at Yunus Emre Public Hospital allegedly did not provide Korkmaz with medical intervention throughout the day and the next day, saying that he should first testify at police headquarters.
When Korkmaz was finally admitted to Eskisehir Public Hospital, his situation deteriorated and he sustained a brain hemorrhage.
Police officers Mevlut Saldogan and Yalcin Akbulut, who were both convicted and sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in jail for the attack on Korkmaz.
Another police Huseyin Engin was sentenced to 7 months and 15 days and baker Ebubekir Harlar was sentenced to 6 years and 8 months in jail.
The Gezi protests mark a turning point for crackdown on dissidents
The protests began as a bid to stop the proposed demolition of the Gezi Park, one of the last green spaces in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district.
The AKP government planned to replace the park with an Ottoman-style shopping mall, a project pushed personally by then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan’s uncompromising stance and a heavy-handed police crackdown on protesters sparked countrywide demonstrations, turning an environmental movement into a revolt against increased authoritarianism.
The Gezi Park protests took a heavy human toll. Eight people died, with at least four being due to police violence according to the Turkish Doctors’ Organization. Some 8,000 people were injured.
The Gezi demonstrations made the AKP government agree on not to build the planned shopping center.
Erdogan, however, launched a crackdown on dissidents who had openly supported the protests.
Some lost their jobs, while others faced criminal charges, with hundreds still standing trial.