Perhaps the most iconic picture yet taken of the uprising in Turkey, the image of “the woman in red” shows Ceyda Sungur, an academic at Istanbul’s university, stood defiantly in Taksim Square, centre of the uprising that has swept across the capital and beyond in recent days.
She is one of the so-called “extremists” who Prime Minister Erdogan and his government are blaming for the demonstrations.
In the picture, Sungur, wearing nothing more than a dress, is being set upon by an officer in riot gear firing pepper spray, an incident that many cite as the spur for activists to take to the streets en masse in support of what had been up till then a small demonstration.
Speaking to Turkish press last week, Sungur said: “Every citizen defending their human rights, every worker defending their human rights, and every student defending university rights has witnessed the police violence I experienced.”
On Tuesday, police reportedly used tear gas to disperse protesters, despite an earlier apology from Bulent Arinc, the deputy prime minister, over the “excessive” response by police during five days of demonstrations.
The protests started over proposals to redevelop Gezi Park in Istanbul, which the activists oppose. Police moved in to confront the demonstrators on Friday, sparking violent clashes and a widening of anti-government sentiment. Arinc is due to meet with activist leaders on Wednesday in an attempt to calm the crisis.
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