The woman in a black dress who became a hero during the Gezi Park protests after standing in front of a Mass Incident Intervention Vehicle (TOMA) in Istanbul, said her move was intended to show how the protests were truly peaceful despite the violence, BBC Türkçe has reported.
Kate Mullen, an Australian exchange student in Turkey, became one of the most remarkable and effective symbols of the Gezi Park protests across the country when a photo depicting her standing alone in front of a TOMA spraying water directly at her shook social media.
Mullen said she had felt like she owed the protesters something, feeling solidarity after taking part in the demonstrations, and wanted show the world something in response to the mainstream media’s stance on the incidents.
“This photo was taken on Saturday morning. I had been taking part in the demonstrations since Friday night and had not slept yet. [I was] subjected to tear gas in three different incidents during the night. I felt that I owed something to this movement in solidarity with the protesters,” she said. “We all knew that the Turkish media was not broadcasting any of these protests and how important it was to spread the incidents through the media.”
Mullen and a group of people were chanting slogans near the German Hospital in Sıraselviler near Taksim Square in front the TOMA before the photo was taken.
“I realized that there was a group of photographers near the TOMA and I decided to stand in front of it and open my arms in order to emphasize the peacefulness of the protests despite the violence,” Muller told BBC Türkçe. “I was not scared. I did not believe [they] would really spray water, but thought that if they did, the photograph would be amazing.”
Mullen had not thought the shot would become a symbol.
“The photograph is not about me anymore. If we think on a general scale, my action is nothing,” she said. “It’s not more courageous than protesters who did the same things or more. The woman in black is not me anymore.”