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Turkey police shoot Syrian refugee dead during coronavirus curfew

Most residents under-20 are required to stay at home due to the coronavirus crisis [Twitter]

Date of publication: 28 April, 2020

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Local authorities in Turkey's Adana have described the fatal shooting of a Syrian refugee as an 'accident'.
Turkish police have shot dead a Syrian teenager in what authorities described as an "accidental" shooting after the young man allegedly failed to comply with coronavirus curfew restrictions.

Police in the southern city of Adana shot at Ali El Hamdan, who reports variously identify as being between 17- and 19-years-old, after the young man did not comply with a police request to stop, local authorities said.

Residents of Turkey under 20-years-old are currently prohibited from leaving their homes as part of ongoing restrictions on movement to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

El Hamdan was on his way to work despite the curfew and ran away from police officers who asked him to stop as he was scared of receiving a fine he could not afford, according to local media reports.

The young Syrian man was then shot in the heart, with a mobile phone video shot by a bystander and published online showing paramedics administering CPR. El Hamdan was then taken to a hospital where he later died.

The police officer involved in the shooting has since been suspended from duty and administrative and judicial investigations into the incident have been launched, the Adana Governorate said in a statement.

The fatal shooting, described as an "accident" by the governorate, has been widely condemned on social media, with Twitter users sharing their reactions under the hashtag #WhereAreAlisKillers.

"It is not enough to suspend the police officer who shot 17-year-old Ali for not responding to the 'stop' warning. This is an organised crime," opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Mahir Polat wrote on Twitter.
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The opposition deputy also expressed anger over the fact that an initial police statement had said El Hamdan was shot in the leg, rather than the heart. 

The tragic incident has also highlighted the plight of Turkey's refugee population during the coronavirus crisis.

Residents under-20 with a job are exempted from the nationwide curfew but only if they have documentation as proof.

More than 3.6 million Syrian refugees live in Turkey, where most are employed illegally as members of the low-paid irregular workforce, making them illegible for government coronavirus aid and forcing many to continue to work despite official guidelines to stay at home.

"Economically, refugees are facing higher risk than Turkish citizens. The first reason for that is most of them are unregistered wage earners, thus they are laid off more easily than those who work legally," Can Isal told Al-Monitor.

"Furthermore, unable to benefit from relief funds introduced for those who lost their jobs, these people [refugees] are being left with no protection at all," said Isal, a lawyer for Istanbul-based refugee relief organisation Support to Life.

In total, around 5 million refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants live in Turkey.

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