House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously condemns the Washington DC attacks by Erdogan’s bodyguards

On May 25th, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously adopted H.Res.354 condemning the May 16th 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-CA) and Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY) were joined by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) 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 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-CA), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Rep. Anne Wagner (R-MO) all offering to join in solidarity.
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.
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.
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