House Foreign Affairs Committee Condemns Attack by Turkish Personnel on Protesters in D.C.

Resolution specifically calls out President Erdogan's security detail

Still from Voice of America
• May 25, 2017 4:52 pm


The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution Thursday condemning the attack on protesters by Turkish personnel in Washington, D.C.

"Armed members of President Erdogan’s security detail savagely beat, choked and kicked protesters in an unprovoked assault aimed at silencing these American citizens' right to free speech and assembly," Chairman Ed Royce (R., Calif.) said in a statement. "This timely resolution sends a clear signal to the Turkish government that we will not allow any foreign government to stifle the rights of our citizens."

The resolution comes as agencies from both the federal and local level investigate the incident. On Tuesday, the State Department said its Diplomatic Security Service, the Secret Service, and D.C. Police are all involved in the investigation. The agency said the three law enforcement operations are currently sharing information with each other.

D.C. Chief of Police Peter Newsham indicated in the immediate aftermath of the attack that his department would do everything within its power to hold those involved in the attack accountable. However, he said, diplomatic immunity could be an issue in the investigation.

Erdogan's government blamed the protesters for the violent attack despite video evidence contradicting their claims. "The demonstrators began aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the President," the Turkish embassy said. "The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defense and one of them was seriously injured. The violence and injuries were the result of this unpermitted, provocative demonstration."

The Foreign Affairs Committee resolution declared that the Turkish personnel acted in a "brutal manner," their actions reflected poorly on their government, and any involved in the attack should be prosecuted.

"It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the rights to peacefully assemble and freely express one’s views are essential to the fabric of American democracy," the resolution said. "The Turkish security forces acted in an unprofessional and brutal manner, reflecting poorly on President Erdogan and the Government of Turkey. 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."

The committee also called on the Secret Service and Department of State to review its procedures and that of the Turkish to avoid another situation like this in the future.

"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," the resolution said."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. 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."

The committee's resolution ends with a declaration that the United States' commitment to free speech is what prompted them to speak out against the attack on peaceful protesters.

"The United States' respect for free speech requires officials of the United States to speak out against such incidents and 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," the resolution said.

Published under: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey