US voices ‘strongest’ concern to Turkey after brawl outside residence

Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Germany
May 18, 2017 Thursday

US voices 'strongest' concern to Turkey after brawl outside residence

By Frank Fuhrig, dpa WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - The US State Department
voiced its 'strongest possible' concern to Ankara on Wednesday after a
melee outside the Turkish ambassador's residence following President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit this week in Washington. The incident,
which occurred on Tuesday night, left 11 people plus one officer
injured, Washington Police Chief Peter Newsham said. 'We are concerned
by the violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security
personnel Tuesday evening,' State Department spokeswoman Heather
Nauert said.

'Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we
support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and
peaceful protest.' A video posted by Voice of America (VOA), a US
government-funded international broadcaster, showed uniformed police
unable to hold back a rush of mostly men in dark business suits across
Sheridan Circle, a north-west Washington roundabout where the
ambassador's residence is located. VOA reported that some of the
participants in the scuffle were Erdogan bodyguards. In the video, the
mob pushes across the street into about a dozen people holding
placards in Sheridan Circle Park and a handful of brawls erupt among
multiple combatants. One heavy-set man with a bullhorn around his neck
tumbles to the ground, where two men in suits and a third attacker
repeatedly punch, kick and stomp the victim, who curls into a fetal
position. One of the suited attackers clutches a red flag. Later in
the VOA video, the victim is seen stumbling around the park, his face
and shirt bloodied. Washington broadcaster WJLA reported that the
demonstrators included pro-Kurdish and Armenian activists protesting
Erdogan's human rights record, as well as supporters of the Turkish
president. Nine of the injured were transported to local hospitals,
treated and released, Newsham said. Police officers at the scene had
to call for backup and two arrests were made. A 49-year-old man from
New York state faces a charge of aggravated assault, and a 42-year-old
man from Fairfax, Virginia, faces a charge of assault on an officer,
according to authorities. The incident 'appeared to be a brutal attack
on peaceful protestors at the Turkish ambassador's residence,' Newsham
said. Police have 'very good video' in the case, and federal law
enforcement agencies are cooperating, he said. 'We intend to ensure
that there is accountability for anyone that was involved in this
assault,' Newsham said. On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump vowed
'unbeatable' cooperation with Turkey against the Islamic State
movement, after hosting Erdogan at the White House. 'We want to get as
many (allies) to help fight terrorism as possible, and that's one of
the beautiful things that's happening with Turkey. The relationship
that we have together will be unbeatable,' Trump said. He promised to
work with Erdogan 'on achieving peace and security in the Middle East,
on confronting the shared threats, and on working toward a future of
dignity and safety for all of our people.' The US and Turkey are both
members of NATO. Groups opposed to Erdogan demonstrated earlier
Tuesday outside the White House during his visit. On Monday night,
about 50 Erdogan supporters rallied near the White House, waving
Turkish flags and chanting Erdogan's name as he arrived in Washington.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS