Gezi’s ‘sling-shot auntie’ ready for action after release from detention

Gezi’s ‘sling-shot auntie’ ready for action after release from detention

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet
Gezi’s ‘sling-shot auntie’ ready for action after release from detention

Emine Cansever attracted worldwide fame thanks to this photograph from veteran AFP photographer Bülent Kılıç taken during the mass demonstrations in Istanbul in spring 2013. AFP photo

The rebellious auntie of the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, who attracted worldwide fame thanks to veteran AFP photographer Bülent Kılıç’s photo of her fighting the police with a sling shot, has told Hürriyet that she would take the streets again if the resistance begins once more.

“Gezi was not only about the cutting down of trees. We fought against injustice and poverty. If those mass demonstrations were to happen again, I would go back there,” Emine Cansever said two days after her Dec. 31, 2013, release from detention.

Nicknamed the “sling-shot auntie,” Cansever was detained Oct. 10, 2013, after taking part in protests in the Asian-side neighborhood of Gülsuyu that were sparked by the killing of 21-year-old Hasan Ferit Gedik during a fight between leftist groups and drug dealers. During the local demonstrations, which were also directed against the construction of a police station in the left-wing suburb, Cansever again distinguished herself with her role in the resistance.

The outspoken 53-year-old was given a hero’s welcome with drums and horns in her neighborhood following her release on New Year’s Eve. 

“In Gülsuyu, we gathered to protest against gangs. It’s a place where people in cars come and open fire on locals. So as the young and old of the neighborhood, we just got out to protest it. Then a morning they took us into custody, along with the neighborhood’s grocer and butcher, too,” Cansever said.

Cansever also said she did not believe her fellow prisoners when they told her about her imminent release. “I said ‘you must be joking.’ I then continued to read on my bunk until the guards came and told me that I was being released,” she said.

She also noted the difficult conditions that female convicts experience in penitentiaries. 

“There are ill people, people who are too old and little children in wards. People on their deathbed are not even sent to the hospital,” she said about the conditions of the Bakırköy women’s jail in the middle of Istanbul. 

Cansever also told Hürriyet that as a retired worker who had participated in unions all her life, she aimed to continue taking to the streets. “I will pursue fighting against injustices,” she said.