The Turkish Constitutional Court has ruled that the police violated the right to life of 28-year-old Aynur Kudin, a Kurdish woman who died from a brain hemorrhage after falling down a staircase while trying to avoid inhaling tear gas in 2014.
The decision, which was published in the Official Gazette on Friday, called for another investigation into the police officers who were involved in the incident. After an initial investigation a chief public prosecutor’s office had ruled there were no grounds for legal action, which prompted the family to appeal to the top court.
Kudin was injured during the Kobani protests, which took place October 6-8, 2014. The protests were sparked by the takeover of the Syrian border town of Kobani by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Many in Turkey’s Kurdish community accused the Turkish army of standing by and allowing ISIS to carry out a massacre in the town.
A police officer threw a gas canister at the balcony where Kudin was standing. She was shouting at the police to stop them from detaining her brother, who had been caught in the middle of the protests as he was walking home.
Gas filled the Kudin apartment, and they had to leave. While Kudin tried to get away from the gas, she tripped and fell down the stairs. However, she was able to get up and as she was trying to convince the police that her brother was innocent, Kudin suddenly fainted and was taken to the hospital. The doctors realized she was suffering a brain hemorrhage, and despite their efforts Kudin died on October 16.
According to the court’s ruling, investigations concerning the circumstances surrounding Kudin’s death had been sloppy and negligent.
Investigations had started more than a year after the incident, and security camera footage from the street had been collected one-and-a-half years after the incident took place. The police officers had not even been questioned by the prosecutor’s office.
The Kobani protests started out as street protests and quickly grew after the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) tweeted an “urgent call” for people to take to the streets and demonstrate. The demonstrations spread to 35 cities and resulted in the death of 37 people.
The then-interior minister, Efkan Ala, accused the demonstrators of “betraying their own country” and warned them to stop protesting or encounter “unpredictable” consequences.
“Violence will be met with violence. This irrational attitude should immediately be abandoned and [the protesters] should withdraw from the streets,” he told reporters in Ankara.