Beyer urges Turkish ambassador’s expulsion, adding to chorus of congressional complaints

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U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (L), Turkey's US Ambassador Serdar Kılıç.

Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat representing the 8th District of Virginia, in a statement released today urged the Trump administration to expel the Turkish ambassador the United States after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s bodyguards attacked peaceful protesters outside the ambassador’s residence on Tuesday.

“President Trump should immediately expel the Turkish Ambassador to the United States,” said Rep. Beyer. “President Erdogan’s attacks on human rights and democratic institutions in Turkey are disgraceful, but condoning such attacks on American soil betrays our deepest values. 

“As someone who has represented my country abroad as an ambassador, I have a special appreciation for the vital role that envoys play and the expectations for honorable behavior that come with this responsibility. These actions fall grievously short of that standard, and the US must take a stand.”

Rep. Beyer was appointed by President Barack Obama to be the United States ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein in 2009 and served in that post until 2013.

Video of the violent confrontation on Tuesday, which took place on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C., showed that President Erdoğan watched from a car as his bodyguards assaulted peaceful protesters across the street. 

Beyer’s statement follows a call by Arizona Sen. John McCain, who on Thursday urged the expulsion of Ambassador Serdar Kılıç, saying: “We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America. This is the United States of America. This isn’t Turkey; this isn’t a Third World country, and this kind of thing cannot go unresponded to diplomatically,” in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” adding that legal action could also be pursued.

In addition, McCain and Senator Diane Feinstein wrote a joint letter to Turkish President Erdoğan expressing concern over the behavior of his security detail outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence 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.

 Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the US Congress, also sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging immediate action to hold individuals accountable for the brutal attacks on peaceful demonstrators outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence on Tuesday.

To send a clear message that these acts of violence will not be tolerated, I ask that you immediately look into this matter and bring all appropriate criminal charges before these individuals leave the United States. Agents of foreign governments should never be immune from prosecution for felonious behavior,” Royce said in the letter.

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 Kılıç on Thursday to explain the incident.

In 2011 Erdoğan’s bodyguards were involved in a fight at the United Nations with UN security guards when the then-Turkish prime minister was refused entry at an exit door in the chamber where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was speaking. “The Turkish guards demanded that their prime minister be allowed to pass, and allegedly pushed the UN security guards,” according to a report in The Atlantic. “The UN guards pushed back, and the Turks apparently began swinging.” One UN employee was hospitalized with broken ribs suffered in the melee.

Erdoğan’s bodyguards also reportedly clashed with US Secret Service agents in Louisville, Kentucky, before the 2016 funeral of famous boxer Muhammad Ali. Erdoğan was cut from the list of speakers at the service and angrily left for Turkey without attending.

The Turkish president’s security detail also roughed up demonstrators and tried to eject “undesired” journalists at the Brooking Institution’s 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

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