US senators call Erdoğan security detail attack on protesters ‘unacceptable’

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US Senators Diane Feinstein (L) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Senators John McCain (R)

US Senators John McCain and Diane Feinstein have written a joint letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressing concern over the behavior of his security detail outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington on Tuesday when they violently attacked demonstrators protesting Erdogan’s policies in Turkey.

“The violent response of your security detail to peaceful protestors is wholly unacceptable and, unfortunately, reflective of your government’s treatment of the press, ethnic minority groups and political opponents,” said the letter.

Reminding that this was not an isolated instance and that supporters and members of his security detail had violently clashed with protesters and members of the media at the Brookings Institution in 2016, the senators said:

“The actions of your staff violate the constitutional protections of freedom of the press and freedom of assembly enjoyed by all Americans. Your staff’s blatant violation of these rights on American soil is an affront to those freedoms, and reflects poorly on your government. We have long supported Turkey as a member of NATO, and a key U.S. ally in the region, and we expect conduct more appropriate to our decade’s long partnership.”

Police intervened in the fighting between the president’s supporters and the demonstrators, while a video recording posted on social media the same day also revealed that Erdoğan’s guards were involved, physically attacking the protesters. Eleven people were injured, with at least one of them in serious condition, according to US media outlets.

The Turkish Embassy released a statement on Thursday claiming the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was responsible for the fracas, while the US State Department expressed concern about the “violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security personnel” and summoned Ambassador Serdar Kılıç on Thursday to explain the incident.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to these actions at home, and we urge you to hold accountable those members of your staff who violently attacked peaceful protestors in our nation’s capital,” McCain and Feinstein wrote in conclusion.

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