US House committee urges vigilance against violence by Erdoğan bodyguards

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Photo: VOA video screen shot

The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on Friday sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson requesting that he take steps to ensure that another violent incident involving the security detail of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does not take place during Erdoğan’s visit to New York for the UN General Assembly on Sept. 12.

The violence on May 16 outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. was only the latest in a disturbing series of violent, unwarranted behavior by the security forces accompanying President Erdogan while in the United States. In 2011, Turkish security officials engaged in a fight with United Nations security personnel and again in 2016, Turkish security personnel attacked journalists at the Brookings Institution,” said the letter, signed by committee Chairman Edward R. Royce and Ranking Member Eliot L. Engel.

On May 16, members of President Erdoğan’s security detail took part in a violent brawl with a group of protesters outside the residence of the Turkish ambassador in Washington while Erdoğan was paying an official visit to the country. At least 11 protesters were injured.

The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department released a video of “persons of interest” believed to be in Erdoğan’s security detail who were involved in the attack on protesters. The police department also issued a wanted list for President Erdoğan’s bodyguards as criminal suspects for their attacks on protesters on May 16.

Indictments have been issued for 19 people, including 15 members of Erdoğan’s security detail, for attacking the protesters in Washington, D.C.

The indictments, which were announced in August, accuse the perpetrators of attacking people who were protesting the visit of Erdoğan and of committing a crime of violence. Some of them also face charges of assault with a deadly weapon. While 16 defendants were charged in June, three new defendants, all of whom are Turkish security officials, were added to the indictment.

The House unanimously passed a resolution in May condemning the outrageous and abusive actions of the Turkish security personnel in the violence outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence, said the letter, adding that “We must ensure that Turkish National Police and accompanying security personnel respect the laws of the United States and refrain from any aggressive actions that are unrelated to the protection of the Turkish President.” The representatives also requested that “those security personnel indicted for assaulting peaceful protestors will be denied visas to enter the United States as part of an official delegation.”

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