We Must Hold Turkish Government Accountable for Attacking Protesters

If I were to tell you that Turkish President Recep Erdogan sent his bodyguards to beat up people who were protesting him, you probably wouldn’t be too surprised to hear about that type of behavior from an authoritarian regime.

What would surprise you, though, is to learn that such a thing could even happen on American soil.

Warning: video of the attack against protesters is graphic.

On Tuesday, a small group of individuals held a protest adjacent to the home of the Turkish ambassador in Washington, D.C. While the demonstrators were peaceful, a group of people who presumably did not agree with political speech suddenly ambushed them.

In total, eleven people were injured with nine people sent to the hospital. D.C. police and members of the Secret Service intervened when the attackers started bloodying the protesters.

Several of the pro-Erdogan attackers were dressed in suits and carrying guns. Turkish state-sponsored media confirmed they were members of Erdogan’s personal security detail. (Erdogan was in D.C. at the time to visit with the U.S. president.)

Nearly as shocking as the attacks themselves is the response to the incident from the Turkish government. They labeled the demonstrators terrorists (with no attempt to support this claim) and put the blame on these demonstrators for being “provocative.”

So far, the State Department has only told the press that, “We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms.”

As for President Donald Trump, he’s said nothing about the attacks. On top of that, he’s only paid compliments to Erdogan, a man who much of the international community has criticized recently for trying to consolidate power to become more of a dictator.

Fortunately, other government leaders are picking up the slack and publicly condemning this incident. “This is the United States of America,” said Senator John McCain. “We do not do this here. There is no excuse for this thuggish behavior.”

McCain’s Republican colleague Representative Ed Royce echoed these sentiments, calling on the State Department and DOJ to press charges. “Agents of foreign governments should never be immune from prosecution for felonious behavior,” Royce said.

Not everyone is optimistic that the attackers will be held accountable. First, the bodyguards likely already went home to Turkey at the time Erdogan departed. Second, as Joseph Giacalone, a criminal justice professor, explained to NBC News, security guards that protect foreign leaders are typically entitled to diplomatic immunity. Unfortunately, international laws do not exist that would hold the guards responsible for disrupting political speech.

Nevertheless, that’s no excuse not to at least try to send a message. Even if we can’t necessarily arrest the attackers, if we want to be a model of free speech to the world, we need to start by protecting the rights of protesters on our own land. Sign this petition to tell the state department to issue consequences to the Turkish government for handling dissenters in such a terrible manner.

Photo Credit: The Kremlin

91 comments

Julie C
Julie C24 days ago

One of Trump's best friends. This is what he really wants to do to protestors. Thankfully we have that pesky Constitution. Now we just have to keep people in office who are willing to keep it standing.

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Berny p
Berny p29 days ago

Mr Erdogan doesn't care because he is a Muslim leader which means he can justify violence. ........so he think.......but the rest of the world can see through him!

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william Miller
william Mabout a month ago

thanks

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Shirley S
Shirley Sabout a month ago

Petition signed in full protest to this commissioned thuggery on U S soil.

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Scott haakon
Scott haakonabout a month ago

By the way not one European country has free speech. That's right the governments can and will censor to meed their political or economic needs. If Turkey is to be pointed out then all of Europe needs to be pointed out too.

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Scott haakon
Scott haakonabout a month ago

We know next to nothing. We impose our values on another culture and it's people and in 1917 divvied up the land without any care about the people living there. Now the crows have come home to roost. And some silliness continues the arrogance of what caused the problem in the first place.

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Peggy B
Peggy Babout a month ago

TYFS

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Beth M
Beth Mabout a month ago

There should never be any immunity for this type of behavior. These thugs should either be in jail or the whole Turkish Embassy should be sent packing to where they came from.

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Jaime J
Jaime Jabout a month ago

Thank you

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Lisa M
Lisa Mabout a month ago

Noted.

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