Members of the U.S. Congress will join victims of Turkey’s May 16th attack on peaceful protesters in Washington, DC at a July 19th “Stand for Free Speech” at Sheridan Circle, site of the unprecedented foreign assault against U.S. protesters which hospitalized 9 people, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The early morning event will start at 8:30 am and continue until approximately 10:00 am. Among the U.S. legislators who have agreed to take part and offer remarks are Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who Co-Chairs the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI), Co-Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus. Additional U.S. Legislators are expected to lend their voices to the event, which is supported by a broad range of non-governmental organizations devoted to human and civil rights.
This bipartisan defense of First Amendment freedom of speech and assembly was first raised by several members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, during the panel’s May 25th mark-up of legislation condemning this attack and, later that same day, at a Europe Subcommittee hearing, led by Rep. Rohrabacher.
The July 19th gathering comes a month after Washington, DC law enforcement issued 18 arrest warrants – including a dozen against Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s bodyguards and two Canadians of Turkish origin. Two Americans of Turkish heritage have already been arrested for assault and various related crimes. Hours after the arrest warrants were issued, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass and, according to a press statement, “emphasized that the decision, which clearly was not taken as a result of an impartial and independent investigation, is unacceptable.” President Erdogan later reacted angrily to news of these arrests, asking “What kind of a law is this? … If they [bodyguards] are not going to protect me, why would I bring them with me to America?” Erdogan vowed to fight the charges leveled against his bodyguards.