Photo by Reuters. Symbol of hardline policing: Ceyda Sungur turns her face away as gas mask-wearing policeman, Fatih Zengin, sprays her with tear gas. He has been ordered to plant 600 trees after being found guilty of misconduct.
A Turkish policeman whose teargassing of a woman in a red dress became a symbol of environmental protests two years ago has been ordered by a court to plant 600 trees.
The image of Ceyda Sungur, dubbed the ‘lady in red’, her hair billowing upwards as officer Fatih Zengin sprayed tear gas in her face, was endlessly shared on social media.
It was also replicated as a cartoon on posters, mugs and stickers during the protests in Istanbul.
After being found guilty misconduct yesterday, Zengin’s sentence appeared to contain a deliberate irony.
The protests, which began as a bid to stop the redevelopment of Gezi Park in central Istanbul, were dismissed by the government at the time as ‘nothing to do with trees’.
The demonstrations spiralled into the worst anti-government unrest for years, spreading to cities around the country.
It also become an unprecedented display of public anger over the perceived authoritarianism of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party.
Police fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters night after night in Istanbul and Ankara, in clashes which left eleven dead and more than 8,000 injured.
The Istanbul court handed down a suspended sentence of 20 months in jail, which Zengin will only serve if he repeats the offence in the next five years.
He will, however, be responsible for the young trees for six months after planting them.