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Turkey’s Erdogan says Dead Teenager was linked to Terrorist Organizations

WASHINGTON — The Turkish government, run by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, continues to face inner turmoil after Erdogan said a dead teenager was linked to “terrorist organizations.”

turkey tayyip erdogan [1]Reuters reported [2] that the 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, who was in a coma for nine months after being hit in the head by a gas canister, passed away last week.

Erdogan, addressing a crowd of supporters, said, “This kid with steel marbles in his pockets, with a slingshot in his hand, his face covered with a scarf, who had been taken up into terrorist organizations, was unfortunately subjected to pepper gas.”

Family and opposition supporters said he was not a part of an opposition protest in Istanbul, yet he was hit in the head while running an errand to buy bread by a gas canister. The canister was intended to disrupt opposition protesters and was used by Turkish police.

The boy became a symbol and rallying cry for the opposition, who have criticized Erdogan over a graft and corruption scandal [3] that has enveloped his party and ruling government. Erdogan claimed that a U.S.-based Turkish exile has orchestrated the scandal to discredit Erdogan, with anonymous releases of wiretapped conversations between Erdogan’s cronies.

His response has been to announce a ban of Facebook and YouTube [4], since the latter was where the anonymous wiretaps were released to the public. This followed earlier moves to silence the Turkish opposition by cracking down on Twitter [5] as well as banning alcohol sales [6] at certain times.