Berkin’s father says, “when he recovers, I’ll name him Ethem.”

Father of Berkin, a young boy who was shot by a tear gas cartridge, says: ‘When he recovers I’ll name him Ethem’

Berkin Elvan, 14, left home one morning to buy bread but could not come back. He was shot by a tear gas cartridge. He has been in the intesive care unit for 10 days. Berkin’s father decribed what they have gone through to soL newspaper.


soL: Can you tell us a bit about the incident?

Sami Elvan(47): On 15 June, Saturday the entire neighborhood was on the streets. But I was at home. I have diabetes. I live in Okmeydanı. Everybody was gathered at the square. I was planing to go, but I couldn’t due to my health problems. I warned my wife to take good care of the kids.  At around 1:30 am, I was watching TV. My wife and kids got separated.


Until 5 am (on June 16th, Sunday) nobody could go to sleep.  We were affected by the tear gas even inside the apartment although all windows were shut. At first, we couldn’t find my son for  but he came home when I called him. At 7:30am we were about to have breakfast, so he went to the grocery store to buy bread. Then the door bell rang. Someone who witnessed the incident came to inform us. He said: ‘Berkin fractured his head, he is at the hospital now’. I rushed out. My eyes were burning because of the tear gas around. I learned that they closed the road, but I found a car and went to the hospital. The doctors immediately operated on Berkin. Berkin had two surgies on the same day and was taken to intensive care. During this process the doctors did not inform us properly. Berkin could not breath  from his nose and mouth, so they had to puncture his throat to ease his breathing.


soL: How did the witnesses tell the incident? Did anyone see the police officer who shot him?


S.E.: His friends said that he [the police officer who shot Berkin] was a blond, and was not wearing a helmet. They said that this office, pointing at Berkin, ordered: “Fire at him.” According to the police records, Berkin was in the protests. Everybody was there. His friends wanted to take him to hospital and he pleaded, ‘my father shouldn’t see or hear’. He knows that I’m not well. His heart has stopped when he first arrived at the hospital.



soL: Could you see Berkin after the incident?

S.E.: Yes, only once. Just before I came here to meet you. I said ‘Son, I’m here. All of your friends are here.’ He opened his eyes briefly and then closed again. I didn’t want to stress him. I kissed his hands and left the room.


soL: Can you tell us about Berkin? Was he studying or working?

S.M.: He was born in 1999, he’s 14. He is a very smart kid. He is really caring and tries his best to help everyone. I suspect that the police aimed at Berkin’s head and fired the cartridge. Even if the kid were a terrorist, the police should come to his house and detain him. They shouldn’t just target and shoot. He’s only 14, how on earth could he be a terrorist?  I think Berkin was intentionally   shot. There are witnesses. His friends who were there at the scene told me what happened.


soL: Did Berkin participate at a protest like this before?

S.E.: He was never in a protest before. I’m in textile business. I have two daughters, Gamze and Özge, Berkin’s older sisters. On Saturday, when my wife and I arrived home, Berkin wanted to buy a cap for his graduation ceremony at school on Tuesday. Berkin, his mother and sister went together to buy him a cap. Today, I saw his outfit for the first time.  Who will ever going to wear them?  Perhaps the children of those police officers should wear them. They can come and get them. The ceremony was cancelled by his teacher and friends. They say they are going to do that whenever Berkin gets out of the hospital. The doctor said we should be prepared and expect the worst. I can’t stand it. How could a father endure such a pain?


soL: You know Ethem Sarısülük has passed away.

S.E.: Yes, I know. I want everyone to know that if God wills and my son wakes up, I will  rename him as Berkin Ethem. Ethem and Dilan’s families have been really very supportive. I share the sorrows of Dilan’s [Dursun] parents  in Ankara. My only wish is to see my son stand up and call me ‘dad’. We won’t surrender or be intimidated. I will move from this neighborhood. I cannot go home. I wonder what would happen if not Berkin but that police officer’s son was shot. They won’t get away with it. Someday people who are accountable will be punished. We have already started the legal process and will file a criminal complaint today.




25 June 2013

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