Turkish Policeman Who Teargassed a Woman Receives an Unusual Sentence

Photo of author

(Newswire.net — June 11, 2015) — Istanbul, Turkey – A photographer in the right place at the right time often captures moments that cause a stir in political and civil rights movements. A now well known photo of a Turkish police officer who sprayed a lady in a red dress with teargas has become not only a work of art, but a symbol during the Turkish anti-government protests in 2013.

Thanks to the photo, the police officer has been found guilty of misconduct and was suspended from the force. In addition the court ordered him to plant 600 trees.

If he fail or refuses to plant the trees, police officer Fatih Zengin would be senteced to 20 months in prison, which was originally the punishment he was to receive. During his six month tree planting punishment, he would be personally responsible to the trees he planted, by watering them and overseeing their progress.    

Ceyda Sungur, the “lady in red” with her hair being blown by the pressure of the teargas, has naturally become a hero, an icon of the anti-government protests that sparked a plan to redevelop the Gezi Park in central Istanbul two years ago.

A fragment of a second changed not only her life as she became a national heroine, but also the policeman’s as he lost his job and ended up in jail.

The photo named ‘lady in red’, instantly went viral on social media. The posters and stickers with the photo spread all over the country represented the symbol of freedom and resistance to the brutal force materialized in the image of the police officer using excessive force.

Zengin actually may have gotten off easy since the prosecutors who accused him for using an excessive force demanded a three-year term of imprisonment. The final sentence seems to be ironic, as the people raged against the government’s decision to remove the Gezi Park. No question Zengin deserved the punishment, however he seem to carry on his shoulders the punishment for the government officials who decided to take away the green space from the residents.

Only time will show if the justice was truly poetic. Meanwhile, government officials have said that they had “nothing to do with trees” anymore. The park also remained.

In the wave of demonstrations that were marked by repeated clashes with riot police, eleven people were killed and over 8,000 were injured.

Former police officer Zengin is planting trees.