For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel. (202) 775-1918
Washington DC Mayor Condemns Erdogan’s Security Detail Led Assault against Peaceful Protesters
State Department Offers “Weak and Ineffective” Response
WASHINGTON, DC – Attacks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail against peaceful human rights protesters yesterday have been condemned by Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, who, along with DC Police Chief Peter Newsham, has launched an investigation into the unprovoked beatings, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“What we saw yesterday – a violent attack on a peaceful demonstration – is an affront to DC values and our rights as Americans,” said Mayor Bowser in a statement issued earlier today. “I strongly condemn these actions and have been briefed by Chief Newsham on our response. The Metropolitan Police Department will continue investigating the incident and will work with federal partners to ensure justice is served.”
Police Chief Newsham stated, “The actions seen outside the Turkish Embassy yesterday in Washington, DC stand in contrast to the First Amendment rights and principles we work tirelessly to protect each and every day.” Noting that there have been two arrests already in the case, Newsham explained that “we have every intention to pursue charges against the other individual involved.”
“We commend Mayor Bowser and Police Chief Newsham for taking the lead in condemning this vicious attack on peaceful protesters in Washington, DC and look forward to working closely with federal and metropolitan law enforcement officials to ensure that justice is served,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “President Erdogan may be able to get away with similar attacks and repression in Turkey – but we simply cannot allow him to export his brand of hatred and repression to our nation’s capital or anywhere in the US.”
This afternoon, the State Department announced it was “concerned by the violent incidents involving protesters and Turkish Security personnel on Tuesday evening,” stating that “violence is never an appropriate response to free speech.”
Hamparian condemned the State Department statement as “weak and ineffective – and, frankly, embarrassing.”
“Apparently, as far as the State Department is concerned, there is no line that Recep Erdogan cannot cross,” explained Hamparian. “He sent his goons to DC to rough up Americans and suppress the free speech rights of US citizens, and all the State Department can muster is a generic expression of opposition to violence.”
Hamparian was videotaping live at the scene of the May 16th attack, which took place in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence where, according to the Daily Caller, President Erdogan was scheduled to have a closed door meeting with representatives of The Atlantic Council, a leading think tank in Washington DC which receives funding from Turkey.
Hamparian’s video showed pro-Erdogan forces crossing a police line and beating peaceful protesters – elderly men and several women – who were on the ground bleeding during most of the attack.
Hamparian’s video is available here:
Voice of America Turkish division, in their video coverage shot from the vantage point of the Turkish Ambassador’s house, reported that the attackers belonged to President Erdogan’s security detail and were responsible for escalating the violence.
“The fights flared up after President Erdogan’s arrival at the Embassy residence,” reported Voice of America. “After the first bout of fights died down, Erdogan’s special security forces joined the second stage of fights. Fisticuffs and kicks ensued. The Washington Police Forces had great difficulty in preventing the fights. They had to use batons against Erdogan’s security forces.”
The Turkish language news item is available at:
Since reporting on the attacks by President Erdogan’s security forces, the ANCA has been receiving threatening phone calls and messages on social media. These intimidation tactics have been reported to the Metropolitan Police and other authorities and are under investigation.
The protests in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s house were a continuation of a demonstration held earlier in the day in front of the White House as President Trump met with President Erdogan. Human rights and religious rights groups were joined by representative of the Kurdish, Yezidi and Armenian communities to call attention to the Erdogan regime’s escalating repression against free press, the Kurdish and other ethnic communities, as well as, Turkey’s ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide.