Turkey clashes: The Woman in the Red Dress

A Turkish riot policeman uses tear gas against Ceyda Sungur in Taksim Square Ceyda Sungur found herself facing a bank of riot police
A Turkish riot policeman uses tear gas against Ceyda Sungur in Taksim Square ... one of whom fired tear gas at her
A Turkish riot policeman uses tear gas against Ceyda Sungur in Taksim Square She turned her face away as he continued
A Turkish riot policeman uses tear gas against Ceyda Sungur in Taksim Square She was left gasping for breath, and later reportedly collapsed

A series of images of a woman in a red dress have become a potent symbol of the anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul.

Ceyda Sungur, an academic at Istanbul's Technical University, had gone to Gezi Park to defend it against a controversial redevelopment project to concrete over one of the last green spaces in the city.

When Ms Sungur arrived, she found herself in front of a line of riot police. One of them bent down and fired tear gas at her, leaving her gasping for breath.

Reuters photographer Osman Orsal captured the moment, and the images soon went viral on social media, in cartoons and as stickers and posters used by other protesters.

Start Quote

A lot of people no different from me were out protecting the park”

End Quote Ceyda Sungur Protester

In the city of Izmir, her picture has even been transformed into a giant billboard. Sympathisers can put their head through a hole where Ms Sungur's face should be, and pose for photos.

The images make good publicity for critics of the government.

In her demure red dress and necklace, carrying a small shoulder bag, Ms Sungur looks more like she's going to a summer fete than a violent protest - adding weight to the demonstrators' argument that the police were too heavy-handed.

The pictures also call into question Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statement that the protesters were extremists "living arm in arm with terrorism".

Ms Sungur told Turkish media she was a "reluctant figurehead", and just a tiny part of a huge grassroots movement to save Gezi Park.

"A lot of people no different from me were out protecting the park, defending their rights, defending democracy," she said. "They also got gassed."

But whether she likes it or not, Ceyda Sungur may find herself forever known as the "lady in the red dress", the iconic image of these Turkish protests.

More on This Story

More Europe stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.