July 19, 2017
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel. (202) 775-1918

Members of Congress to “Take a Stand for Free Speech” At Site of Turkish Beatings of Peaceful Protesters

  • Members of the U.S. Congress will join victims of Turkey’s May 16 attack on peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. at a July 19th “Stand for Free Speech” at Sheridan Circle, site of the unprecedented foreign assault against U.S. protesters which hospitalized nine people

WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, July 19th, Members of the U.S. Congress will join victims of the May 16th attack on peaceful protesters to take a “Stand for Free Speech” at Sheridan Circle, site of the unprecedented May 16th assault by Turkey President Recep Erdogan’s security detail.

Among the U.S. legislators who have agreed to take part and offer remarks are Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe;  Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who Co-Chairs the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission; Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA). Additional U.S. legislators are expected to lend their voices to the event, which is supported by a broad range of non-governmental organizations devoted to human and civil rights.

“We’re affirming our First Amendment freedoms and rejecting Ankara’s gag-rule against American citizens,” said Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

The press conference, set to begin at 9:00am, will be featured LIVE on ANCA social media sites — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.  Hashtags used for the event will include: #Defendthe1st #StandAtSheridan

Additional information is provided on the Facebook event page.

WHO: U.S. Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), James Costa (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)
Sheridan Circle May 16 Initiative (including many victims of the beatings)
American Kurdish Association (AKA)
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)
In Defense of Christians
American Hellenic Council
Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights
A Demand for Action
Hellenic American Leadership Council
AHEPA
Armenian Youth Federation

WHAT: “Stand for Free Speech” press conference and protest

WHEN: Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 8:30am to 10:30am. Press conference set to start at 9:00am.

WHERE: Sheridan Circle (23rd and Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC)

On May 16, 2017, at Washington, DC’s Sheridan Circle in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence, peaceful protesters — the majority of them women, children, and elderly — were brutally attacked by Turkish President Erdogan’s security details and his AKP party supporters. The vicious attack took place shortly after the arrival of Turkey’s President Erdogan, who watched as his bodyguards and supporters kicked and dragged unconscious protesters.

The shocking attack on American soil is a reflection of the level of intolerance and ill-treatment in Turkey under Erdogan’s presidency. To date, both co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish HDP party remain imprisoned along with 5,000 Kurdish politicians and activists and 130 journalists. Over 5,000 academics and 150,000 civil servants have been dismissed or suspended from their positions, among others.

On July 19th, joined by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA),  James Costa (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), the Sheridan Circle May 16 Initiative, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), American Kurdish Association (AKA) and a host of community and human rights organizations (full list above), will return to Sheridan Circle to send a clear message to Turkey’s President Erdogan that he cannot bring his authoritarianism to American soil. President Erdogan and the government of Turkey must be held accountable for the vicious assault on peaceful demonstrators, with the perpetrators brought to justice for their crimes.

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