Issues

House Unanimously Passes Resolution Condemning Attack by Turkish Personnel on Protesters in D.C.

'The Turkish security forces acted in an unprofessional and brutal manner'

Police secure the street outside the Turkish embassy / Getty Images

The House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday night condemning the attack by Turkish personnel on protesters in Washington, D.C., last month.

The resolution came in response to an attack on peaceful protesters gathered outside the Turkish ambassador's residence on May 16. Though the Turkish government, which refused to answer repeated questions from the Washington Free Beacon, released a statement that said the protesters instigated the violence, video shows supporters of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan initiated the violence, and members of his security detail physically beat the protesters.

The resolution condemned the Turkish personnel for acting "in an unprofessional and brutal manner" during the May 16 incident. It called for any Turkish personnel involved in the attack to be either charged and prosecuted or removed from the United States and barred from reentering.

"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."

It also called on the Secret Service and State Department to review their processes in order to avoid any future attacks from Turkish personnel on American soil.

"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 resolution is identical to one passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, recently sent a letter to the State Department asking them to reject a proposed $1.2 million arms deal with the Turkish agency that oversees Erdogan's bodyguards until the situation is resolved. Like the resolution from the Foreign Affairs Committee, the resolution debated on the House floor Tuesday night enjoyed bipartisan support and passed by a vote of 397-0.

"Let us be clear—at no time was President Erdogan in danger," Rep. Royce said in a speech on the House floor advocating for the resolution. "This was not an act of protection; it was an act of suppression. On our American soil!

"The actions of the Turkish security detail were unprofessional and dangerous. You had armed security personnel creating a melee. The actions were unjustified and up to this point have gone largely unchallenged. H. Res. 354 puts Congress firmly on record in clear, unmistakable terms condemning the actions of the Turkish security guards last month."

In her floor speech on the resolution, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D., D.C.) emphasized the bipartisan nature of the outrage over the Turkish personnel's attack.

"Today's resolution sends an essential message that the United States is a free and democratic country and will not tolerate violence against peaceful protesters," Norton said. "Importantly, this resolution was introduced by top Republican and Democratic leaders at a time when there is little bipartisan agreement on anything else. There can be no disagreement on the free speech right to protest, however."

The State Department and D.C. Police have not released any new information on their joint investigation into the incident, nor have they given any timetable for when new information might be available.

"No update at this time," a D.C. Police Department spokesperson told the Free Beacon. "It remains an open investigation."