House Unanimously Condemns Erdogan-Ordered Attack on Protesters

IMG. House unanimously condemns Erdogan-ordered attack on protesters

WASHINGTON—”Asbarez”. With a vote of 397 to 0, the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday unanimously condemned Turkey, sharply criticizing the brutal May 16th Erdogan-ordered attack against peaceful protesters in Washington DC, reported the Armenian National Committee of America. H.Res.354 represents a powerful stand against Ankara’s attempts to export its violence and intolerance to America’s shores.

“With today’s vote, Congress started rolling back Ankara’s occupation of Washington, DC,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “After far too many years of appeasing Ankara – turning a blind eye to its genocidal horrors, abuses at home, and aggression abroad – the United States, starting with the House of Representatives – today turned an important corner, challenging Turkey’s violence and confronting its increasingly anti-American conduct.”

H.Res.354 was spearheaded by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and received the public backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) prior to the vote.

Chairman Royce led floor discussion of the measure, noting, “the violent attacks by officers assigned to Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail against peaceful protesters back on May 16 were designed to do one thing: they were designed to silence those protesters’ criticism of the Turkish government. And that is why it is so important that we speak out. We must speak loudly and clearly that we will protect our citizens, our citizens and their fundamental rights to free speech and to assembly.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was adamant in his condemnation of the attacks. “It should be clear to Turkey and to all nations that we will oppose any attempt to suppress dissent or the freedom of speech. That is why that is in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Because our founding fathers and, frankly, those who follow western values and, yes, some eastern values believe that free speech is the absolute essential for democracy to succeed and flourish.”

Maryland Congressman Sarbanes called for a complete re-evaluation of the US-Turkey relationship, noting that the incident “unmasked President Erdogan for the bully he is . . . It reflects a deeply imbedded reflex that in the modern era has brought the world, among other things, the unlawful invasion and occupation of Cyprus, the Armenian Genocide and the violent repression of the Kurdish people.” complete re-evaluation of the U.S. Relationship with Turkey. We cannot pretend that it is business as usual with a foreign leader that has attacked our nation’s most cher cherished democratic value — cherished democratic values on our very own soil.”

DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton expressed particular concern that the beatings are part of a pattern or repression by President Erdogan’s bodyguards. “A similar incident occurred about a half dozen years ago at the united nations. Same head of state. Same thugs attacking peaceful protesters. Last year, just this past year, there was an attack on journalists outside of the Brookings institute. So if we don’t tell them it’s time to stop when we had the third attack, they will persist, that is for sure.”

New York Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-CA), “Erdogan simply decided to treat Americans the way he treats his own people. His guards even had the nerve to attack law enforcement officials who were protecting him and his delegation. This behavior cannot stand. And the resolution before us sends a clear, decisive message that congress won’t tolerate it.”

Ted Poe, a Republican Congressman from Texas, in an email to Asbarez that Erdogan’s brand of “tyranny” had no room in the United Staes.

““Turkey’s dictator Erdogan tried to bring his tyranny to our doorstep last month. Erdogan stood by and watched as his thugs brutally attacked peaceful American protestors outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence. They were demonstrating against the Turkish government’s ongoing crackdown on human rights and free speech. I am proud to cosponsor H. Res. 354 condemning this vicious attack and sending a message that this show of force will not be tolerated in the United States of America. No foreign dictator will violate the rights of Americans on American soil with impunity. These protesters should to return to the Turkish Ambassador’s residence and exercise their rights protected under our Constitution. Democracy will always prevail over tyranny. And that’s just the way it is.” Rep. Poe has been among the most strident in condemning the attacks, urging colleagues to join him in protests in front of the Turkish Embassy during House Foreign Affairs Committee consideration of the measure,” said Poe.

Shortly after Tuesday’s vote, in an email to Asbarez, the Ranking Member on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff called on the State Department and the White House to “bring these thugs to justice.”

“I am pleased the House passed H.Res. 354, of which I am a proud cosponsor, and I am encouraged by the bipartisan commitment to confront Turkey’s vicious attacks on peaceful protestors outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence on May 16th. Erdogan has systematically crushed dissent through violence and intimidation in his own country, but he cannot bring those tactics to our Capitol. We must do everything possible to hold Turkey accountable and to ensure the Turkish government cooperates fully in the active investigation into these assaults. This will require sustained pressure and engagement, and I will do everything in my power to push the Administration and State Department to bring these thugs to justice,” said Schiff.

“Why was Erdogan so emboldened? Because we have had an American government that is coward for generations rather than recognize the Armenian Genocide,” said Rep. Brad Sherman in an email to Asbarez. “If we are so weak that we engage — that we are a party to genocide denial, who should respect our laws or our sovereignty or think that they’ll pay any price for anything they do here in our country?’

“Finally, the actions of those thugs have been compounded by the lies of the Turkish ambassador,” added Sherman.

“It’s outrageous that Erdogan and his thugs felt they could beat up peaceful protesters on the streets of Washington. We don’t need him exporting his violence and repressive tactics to the United States,” Democratic Rep. David Cicilline from Illinois, who helped lead last week’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing into the attacks, told Asbarez in an email. “I’m pleased that the House took this initial step today. Moving forward, we must make clear to Erdogan that freedom of speech is the law of the land in this country.”

ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian was videotaping live at the scene of the May 16th 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, 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 testified before a May 25th Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on this matter. Joining him at the hearing were Ms. Lusik Usoyan, Founder and President of the Ezidi Relief Fund; Mr. Murat Yusa, a local businessman and protest organizer; and Ms. Ruth Wedgwood, Edward B. Burling Professor of International Law and Diplomacy, at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Usoyan and Yusa were victims of the brutal assault on May 16th by President Erdogan’s bodyguards.

ANCA live footage of the attack served as source video for CNN, AP, The Washington Post, The Daily Caller and other major media, transforming the violent incident into a global spotlight on Erdogan’s attempt to export his intolerance and aggression to American shores.

The Sunday, June 4th edition of The New York Times featured a two-page center-spread investigative report on the May 16th attack, with online version of the coverage translated to Turkish and shared widely on social media. The ANCA is cited by The New York Times as a source for this report.

The May 16th 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 Text of H.Res.354 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.


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


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.