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House Committee Condemns Attack on Erdoğan Protesters, Calls for Justice

Muslims pray at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Mich. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

WASHINGTON — The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution today condemning last week’s brutal assault of Kurdish protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in D.C. by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s bodyguards and calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

The congressional action comes as the Trump administration says it’s still studying what happened May 16 as Erdoğan was in town to meet with President Trump. Video released by Voice of America not only shows the attack on the protesters, who were across the street from the Turks, in detail, but additional footage shows Erdoğan viewing the protests from his armored Mercedes and something being communicated to his security staff before the attack began.

One of the victims personally appealed to Trump for help in getting justice:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News on Sunday that U.S. officials called the ambassador of Turkey into the State Department “to discuss what occurred with them and express our view that this is simply unacceptable.”

“There is an ongoing investigation… I think we’ll wait and see what the outcome of that investigation is. But we have expressed our dismay at what occurred at the Turkish embassy,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson said consideration of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) suggestion to expel the Turkish ambassador would have to wait until the investigation concludes.

On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), and Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) introduced a resolution condemning the violence, calling for the perpetrators to be punished and advocating measures to prevent such attacks from happening again.

“We are introducing this bipartisan resolution today to make it clear that last week’s unprovoked attack on peaceful protesters by Turkish security forces on American soil must not go unanswered and that those responsible must face justice,” the quartet said in a joint statement. “The attack last week against the protesters fell into a pattern of similar behavior by the Erdogan government and sent a dangerous message that this ideology of suppression has a place among the NATO powers, an alliance built to protect democracy and basic rights against those who would impose the opposite upon the world.”

“We must dispel that notion entirely and make it clear that the United States rejects any and all attempts to deny people the right to raise their voices against those in power through nonviolent means,” the lawmakers added.

After passage of the resolution in the Foreign Affairs Committee this morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) noted the “violent crackdown on peaceful protesters by Turkish security forces was completely indefensible, and the Erdogan government’s response was wholly inadequate.”

“Turkey is an important NATO ally, but its leaders must fully condemn and apologize for this brutal behavior against innocent civilians exercising their First Amendment rights,” Ryan added. “In the meantime, we stand fully committing to helping bring all those responsible to justice.”