House Foreign Affairs Committee Unanimously Condemns D.C. Attacks by Erdogan’s Bodyguards

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Rep. Ted Poe Calls for Continued Protests at Turkish Embassy, with Reps. Rohrabacher, Cicilline, Wagner, and Sherman Offering to Attend in Solidarity

WASHINGTON—On May 25, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously adopted H.Res.354 condemning the May 16 attacks on peaceful protesters by Turkish President Erdogan’s bodyguards, “calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and measures to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) were joined by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in spearheading the Congressional effort, likely to be voted on in the full House in early June.

“The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s unanimous adoption of H.Res.354 represents a powerful bipartisan condemnation of Turkish President Erdogan’s attempts to export this brand of brutality to the United States,” said Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “He and the regimes before him have gotten away with a century of genocide and repression—from the Armenians, Greeks and Assyrian in 1915 to the Kurds and other minorities today—through international intimidation, threats and coverups, and now violence on the streets of our nation’s capital. Congress and the Trump Administration need to send a strong message that this stops now.”

Citing the details of the May 16th attacks by President Erdogan’s bodyguards on peaceful protesters, and noting that this is the third time similar incidents have occurred in the U.S., Chairman Royce noted “The rights of peaceful protest and free expression are fundamental values in any democracy. By passing this resolution we reaffirm our commitment to protect these rights against all who seek to suppress them.”

“I was shocked. The last thing we expect to see in the United States is a strong man’s thugs silencing peaceful protesters,” said Ranking Democrat Engel, who noted that he had been invited to a meeting at the Turkish Embassy during the time of the beating but had not gone. “If Turkish government officials are going to come to our country and try to stifle American democracy and freedom of speech, there must be consequences.”

Noting that “Turkey has been under a downward spiral under an aspiring dictator, Erdogan,” Texas Congressman Ted Poe (R) condemned the attacks. “We will have no foreign tyrant violating our sacred rights on American soil. Justice demands that he be held accountable and Turkey be held accountable,” said Rep. Poe, who then encouraged protesters to return to the Turkish Embassy and continue their protests, with several House Foreign Affairs Committee Members, including Rep. Poe, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Anne Wagner (R-Mo.) all offering to join in solidarity.

At 12 noon, Rep. Rohrabacher is leading the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe hearing on the May 16th Erdogan-ordered attacks where Hamparian will be offering testimony, along with Ms. Lusik Usoyan, Founder and President of the Ezidi Relief Fund and Mr. Murat Yusa, a local businessman and protest organizer. Usoyan and Yusa were victims of the brutal assault on May 16 by President Erdogan’s bodyguards.

ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian was videotaping live at the scene of the May 16 attack, which took place in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence where President Erdogan was scheduled to have a closed-door meeting with representatives of The Atlantic Council, a leading think tank in Washington, D.C. 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.

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.

Additional VOA Turkish video surfaced showing President Erdogan ordering his security detail to attack the protesters, then watching calmly as the beatings were carried out. Audio analysis carried out by the Daily Caller shows Erdogan’s bodyguards yelling “gel gel gel”—“come, come, come”—and “dalın diyor, dalın diyor, dalın diyor,”–“he says attack, he says attack, he says attack.”

The Washington Post published a second-by-second analysis of the VOA Turkish videos and identified the Erdogan’s order of the attack, available here:

The U.S. State Department called the Turkish Ambassador in for a discussion last week regarding the incident, officially expressing their dismay, calling the actions of President Erdogan’s body guards “unacceptable.” President Trump has yet to comment on the matter.

In a highly incendiary move, on Monday, May 22nd, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry called in the U.S. Ambassador John Bass for a diplomatic discussion, accusing U.S. police and security personnel of “aggressive and unprofessional actions.”

The protest in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence was a continuation of a demonstration held earlier in the day in front of the White House, co-hosted by the ANCA. As President Trump met with President Erdogan. human rights and religious rights groups were joined by representatives 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 obstruction of justice for the Armenian Genocide.

The full text of the resolution is provided below.

Condemning the violence against peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence on May 16, 2017, and calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and measures to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Mr. ROYCE of California (for himself, Mr. ENGEL, Mr. MCCARTHY, and Mr. HOYER) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

RESOLUTION

Condemning the violence against peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence on May 16, 2017, and calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and measures to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Whereas on May 16, 2017, President Donald J. Trump hosted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a longstanding NATO ally, for an official meeting at the White House to discuss counter-terrorism cooperation and bilateral issues;

Whereas on the evening of May 16, 2017, over two dozen protesters gathered outside of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., to demonstrate opposition to Turkish Government policies;

Whereas after hours of peaceful protest, violence erupted when pro-Erdogan supporters and individuals from the Turkish Embassy grounds pushed past District of Columbia police officers to brutally attack the demonstrators;

Whereas those Turkish officials blatantly suppressed the First Amendment rights of United States citizens, and multiple armed Turkish security officials beat, kicked, and choked unarmed demonstrators;

Whereas multiple video recordings of the violence and reports by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia and the Department of State confirm that the demonstrators did not instigate the violence;

Whereas at least 11 individuals were seriously injured in the ensuing brawl, with two individuals requiring immediate hospitalization;

Whereas two armed Turkish security officers attached to a security detail were detained at the scene for physically assaulting Federal agents;

Whereas those two Turkish security officers were later re- leased and subsequently allowed to leave the United States because they held Derived Head of State immunity;

Whereas the Department of State did not request that Turkey waive the immunity for these two security officers in order to fully investigate the assault prior to their being released from custody;

Whereas a joint criminal investigation into the incident is on- going with the combined efforts of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, the United States Secret Service, and the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service;

Whereas at no point was President Erdogan in danger;

Whereas immunity for diplomatic personnel and certain other foreign officials is a core principle, as is the right to pro- test peacefully and freely in the United States;

Whereas this is the third instance of violence perpetrated by members of Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail in United States territory;

Whereas in 2011, a brawl erupted in the halls of the United Nations General Assembly between members of Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail and United Nations security officers, resulting in one United Nations security officer being hospitalized due to serious injuries;

Whereas in 2016, members of Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail engaged in unwarranted violence against journalists reporting on an event at the Brookings Institution;

Whereas Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on May 21, 2017, that the violence outside the Turkish Embassy was ‘‘outrageous’’ and ‘‘simply unacceptable’’; and

Whereas the right to assembly, peaceful protest, and freedom of speech are essential and protected rights in the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that—

(1) the rights to peacefully assemble and freely express one’s views are essential to the fabric of American democracy;

(2) the Turkish security forces acted in an un-professional and brutal manner, reflecting poorly on President Erdogan and the Government of Turkey;

(3) any Turkish security officials who directed, oversaw, or participated in efforts by Turkish security forces to illegally suppress peaceful protests on May 16, 2017, should be charged and prosecuted under United States law;

(4) the United States Secret Service and the Diplomatic Security Service of the Department of State should review this incident and confirm with the Turkish National Police the standards expected by visiting security details to prevent future violent incidents;

(5) the Department of State should immediately request the waiver of immunity of any Turkish security detail official engaged in assault in the United States prior to release of that individual from custody;

(6) the Department of State should conduct a review of its own security procedures to determine how to mitigate the likelihood of such an event in the future;

(7) the United States’ respect for free speech requires officials of the United States to speak out against such incidents; and

(8) the United States should take steps to strengthen freedoms for the press and civil society in countries such as Turkey, and combat efforts by foreign leaders to suppress free and peaceful protest in their own countries.

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One Comment;

  1. State of Emergency said:

    All talk, no action. Nothing meaningful will ever arise from this. Move along and do something more constructive in Armenia and its many internal issues.

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