Gezi’s ‘woman in red’ says superior gave orders to spray tear gas, officer got carried away
This picture taken by Reuters' photojournalist Osman Orsal converted Ceyda Sungur into a protest icon and protests quickly spread across the country. REUTERS PhotoCeyda Sungur, the demonstrator who became known as “the woman in red” after being photographed being sprayed with tear gas at close range during last summer’s Gezi protests, has said the police officer who fired the gas was obeying the orders of a superior.
“The police officer was waiting to spray the tear gas. His superior told him ‘go on, spray.’ I assume that [the person speaking] was his superior because the officer was holding a transmitter. Then the officer got carried away,” Sungur said of the incident during her testimony at an Istanbul court on May 13.
Sungur was among a small group of demonstrators exposed to the first police intervention against the protests on May 28, 2013, as they had gathered to denounce the cutting down of trees in the park facing Taksim Square at the heart of Istanbul’s central entertainment area.
The images of the police intervention, particularly a photograph showing an officer wildly spraying tear gas at the face of the passively standing Sungur, converted her into a protest icon and protests quickly spread across the country.
The 23-year-old police officer, identified as F.Z., faces three years in prison on charges of abusing his authority. Sungur, who was cleared of provocation charges last January, said she was unable to see the officer’s face as it was hidden underneath a tear gas mask.
“There was a scuffle. I fell on the floor during the confusion as police and demonstrators pushed each other. I got on my feet after the scuffle and came face to face with the defendant police officer,” Sungur said, adding that she had also demanded the identification of the superior who had ordered for the tear gas to be fired.
In the indictment, F.Z. is accused of violating the regulations on police actions during protests. Prosecutors stated that he was less than a meter from Sungur and targeted her face without any warning.
The next hearing of the case is set to be held on June 25.