Muhammed Orhan, the symbol of Van's resistance, released from prison

Muhammed Orhan, who became known as a symbol of Van's resistance, has been released. “I knew I was right. It was a justified resistance and we won,” said the 18-year-old upon his release.

Muhammed Orhan has been released. The 18-year-old Kurd was arrested during the protests against the AKP's "electoral coup" in Van and was arrested on 4 April as an alleged member of an illegal organization. Muhammed Orhan became known as a symbol of the resistance of the people of Van thanks to the photo of his arrest, in which he was led away by police but kept smiling. His lawyer's objection to the arrest was upheld, Muhammed Orhan was able to leave the T-type prison in Van on Tuesday and was met by his family and numerous acquaintances.

Outside prison, the 18-year-old explained that neither the arrest nor the subsequent imprisonment had shaken him: "I knew that I was in the right. It was a justified resistance and we were right. We stood up for recognition of our will and won. I thank everyone who supported us and our resistance."

In Van, there were violent protests after the local elections on 31 March, when the victory of the newly elected mayor Abdullah Zeydan (DEM) was annulled and the second-placed AKP candidate was supposed to take office. A court had stripped Zeydan, who received 55.5 percent of the vote, of his rights. This was based on an objection by the Justice Department against an earlier ruling that had restored the civil rights of the politician, who had been imprisoned for five years on terror charges. After a day of strong protests, Ankara was forced to revert the decision.

In total, around 350 people were arrested during the protests in Van, and at least thirty people were remanded in custody. The Turkish police used massive force against the demonstrators and used water cannons and tear gas as well as rubber bullets. Research by the local bar association's Human Rights Commission found that around 400 people were injured during the protests and/or in police custody.

According to the information, the number of broken bones, skull fractures and injuries to the jaws and teeth of protesters alone was over a hundred. Fifteen of those arrested were minors, and ten lawyers were also temporarily taken into police custody. People were also arrested in neighboring Hakkari province for their involvement in protests against the annulment of the Zeydan election.