By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
Family and friends of a Turkish knife crime victim on Friday called on authorities to bring an end to the 'epidemic' violence.
Around 100 people gathered in front of Barking Town Hall to listen to a press conference by the parents of Hasan Ozcan, a 19-year-old student who died on Feb. 3 on Abbey Road in Barking, a borough in east London, after being stabbed multiple times while returning home.
A report, citing a local resident, said a group of youths had been chasing another group of people that included Ozcan before he was stabbed.
“Enough is enough. The government must act,” said a family member, reading a statement from the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD).
“We do not want to see other mothers cry,” Emine Ozcan, Hasan’s mother, said in an emotional address.
“My son did not deserve this. He had dreams and targets. He had hopes. Nobody had the right to end his hopes with a knife,” she said.
"We will never give up as long as our [Turkish] Consulate and MPs are behind us.”
Calling on the police to find the killers of her son, she underscored that no arrests have been made so far, even though a week has passed since her son was murdered.
People carried placards bearing slogans against knife crimes, which have left at least 12 people dead in the British capital since the start of this year.
“Hasan Ozcan lost to knife crime,” and “Gang warfare in our streets,” some of them read.
Labour MP for Barking Margaret Hodge also spoke at the gathering, saying Ozcan’s death was a “completely pointless loss.”
Hodge said the best way to get rid of street gangs would be sticking together as a community.
“Every knife crime is now a top priority for councils, the police…and the government,” she said.
Hasan Ozcan "appears to have been deliberately singled out by what we understand was a group intent on causing him serious injury,” a police statement said Feb. 6.
“The attack has had fatal consequences, and it is vital that those out there with information contact police,” it said.
“We don’t want anyone else to get hurt,” said the victim’s father, Abdullah Ozcan.
“We have to be together and come together to help each other.”
“Hasan was like my little brother,” said Stephen Addison, a friend and the founder of the boxing club the murdered teenager frequented.
“This is our community, and we have to take social responsibility,” he said.
“We need to come together.”
Some of those attending the press conference complained about the lack of security cameras on their streets and the closure of youth clubs in the area.
The meeting was also attended by Barking councilors and the president of the UETD, Erdal Yesilova.
A police investigation continues into the incident.
According to police statistics, 38,000 knife attacks took place across the U.K. last year.