The Stunning Image Of 'The Lady In Red' Will Endure Even After The Turkey Protests End


Protests in Turkey have entered their fifth straight day as protests over the destruction of trees in a public park morphed into an indictment of the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

And the ‘lady in red’ — a woman who was sprayed directly in the face with pepper spray by a policeman on May 28 —  has become the symbol of the dissidents.

The description of the photo by Reuters nails it (emphasis ours):

In her red cotton summer dress, necklace and white bag slung over her shoulder she might have been floating across the lawn at a garden party; but before her crouches a masked policeman firing teargas spray that sends her long hair billowing upwards.

Endlessly shared on social media and replicated as a cartoon on posters and stickers, the image of the woman in red has become the leitmotif for female protesters during days of violent anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul.

Birsen Altayli and Ayla Jean Yackley of Reuters report that walls around in Taksim Square in central Istanbul — a popular gathering place for the country’s labour movement — are plastered with posters of the instantly iconic photo along with a message that read: “The more they spray, the bigger we get.”

And the police have been spraying, in addition to aggressively shooting demonstrators with water cannons and occasionally beating the hell out of them

The Turkish Medical Association claimed at least 3,195 people were injured in clashes Sunday and Monday — two have been killed — and some of the images that appear to show wounded protesters are downright grizzly (warning: very graphic link).

On Tuesday Turkey’s deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc apologized for “excessive violence” against the protesters while Erdogan remains defiant — he’s blamed the unrest on “bums,” “looters,” “the extremist fringe,” “Twitter,” the main opposition party,  and even “foreign agents” while also predicting that “the situation will return to normal” in a matter of days.

“[Erdogan has] not been behaving rationally at all,” Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based researcher at John Hopkins University, told USA Today. “He appears to be becoming almost delusional and refusing to accept the reality that these protests are mainly spontaneous and are being organised by small groups of people who’ve never engaged in politics before.”

No moment captures that spontaneous defiance and the police’s heavy-handed response than the lady in red.


Here’s the sequence:

And here’s a closeup of her getting doused:


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