Armenian Witness to Bloody Protest: Erdoğan Regime Violence 'Has Now Been Exported Here'
WASHINGTON -- The executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, who witnessed Tuesday's bloody attacks against protesters of the regime of visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, called the violence the "very type of intolerance that has come to predominate in Turkey -- and it has now been exported here."
The Voice of America Turkish video of the incident, in which Erdoğan's security staff beat mostly Kurdish protesters assembled across the street from the Turkish ambassador's residence near Dupont Circle, has been distributed widely:
— Amerika'nın Sesi (@VOATurkish) May 17, 2017
A longer video of the fight and aftermath was captured by ANCA and livestreamed on the Armenian group's Facebook page.
ANCA executive director Aram Hamparian, who shot the video, decried "the type of violence you would never expect to see in America’s capital."
"It was the type of violence you’d expect to see in Erdoğan’s Turkey and in other dictatorships,” Hamparian said, according to Armenian Weekly.
Protesters including Kurds, Armenians, Greeks, Yazidis, Assyrians and more began their demonstration at noon across the street from the White House in Lafayette Square before moving to the ambassador's residence. Before the attack, demonstrators were chanting and holding up signs demanding the release of Selahattin Demirtaş, chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and the party's 2014 presidential candidate, who was arrested by the Erdoğan regime in November.
“I saw a group of peaceful protesters in Sheridan Circle — a grassy area across from the Turkish ambassador’s residence — who were protesting and exercising their constitutional right to speak their minds, to hold signs, to share their opinions, and express their views get rushed from across the street by a group of a pro-Erdoğan [demonstrators], who broke through the police lines and attacked literally anybody within their reach with their fists and anything else they could get a hold of,” Hamparian said in the livestream.
“This is exactly the type of violence you see in Ankara and they are exporting it here," he added. "It’s one thing for the Turkish government to do that to its own citizens — a terrible thing. It is another thing for us, as Americans, to see that exported to the United States."
Nine people were injured and two were arrested: Ayten Necmi, 49, of Woodside, N.Y., was charged with aggravated assault, and Jalal Kheirabadi, 42, of Fairfax, Va., was charged with assault on a police officer. Necmi has a photo on his Facebook page participating in a pro-Turkey rally outside the White House last October; Kheirabadi has photos of pro-Kurdish rallies and protests on his Facebook page.
Authorities have been mum about the fate of Erdoğan's suited bodyguards.
— Konstantin Krammer (@KonstantinKlug) May 17, 2017
"DC police did all they could. US response must be swift, strong. No State Dept lingo. Strength," tweeted former White House press secretary Dana Perino.
Tweeted former UN Ambassador Samantha Power: "Clearly Erdogan's guards feel complete impunity, drawing on tools of repression they use at home & knowing he has their back, no matter what."
At an appearance with the Algerian foreign minister this morning, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did not answer a question from a VOA reporter asking for his thoughts about the attack.
When Erdoğan was in D.C. in March 2016 for the Nuclear Security Summit, his security staff roughed up journalists and think-tank staff outside his address at the Brookings Institution.
"This may be how Erdogan treats protesters in his own country, but this is not acceptable in ours," tweeted Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). "2nd time Erdogan’s security attacked protesters in US. Meeting should not have taken place. WH should denounce & support peaceful protests."