The Turkish police officer who teargassed the "lady in red" has been given the most apt punishment

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Thursday 11 June 2015 12:30

During the anti-government protests in Gezi Park in Istanbul two years ago, an iconic photo was taken of a woman in a red dress being teargassed by a police officer.

The images of the "lady in red", her hair billowing upwards as an officer sprayed teargas in her face at point blank range, became a powerful symbol for the violence with which the state met protesters and was shared and replicated across the world:

The 2013 protests initally began as a bid to stop an urban development plan in Gezi Park but after demonstrators were violently evicted it spiralled into strikes and protests across the country against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was seen to be encroaching on secular rights such as the freedom of assembly, the press and the right to protest.

Eleven people died in the ensuing violence and more than 8,000 were injured.

More than two years later, officer Fatih Zengin has been found guilty of misconduct for gassing unarmed Ceyda Sungur, and on Wednesday was told by a court that his sentence is to plant 600 trees.

Zengin's sentence appeared to contain a deliberate irony. The protests, which began to stop the destruction of the green spaces in Gezi Park, were dismissed by the government at the time as "nothing to do with trees".

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.

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