Nine people were injured and two arrested Tuesday during a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., as President Donald Trump hosted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Witnesses said Erdoğan’s bodyguards attacked protesters carrying the flag of the lefist Syrian political party Kurdish PYD outside the embassy. Erdoğan was inside the building at the time.
“All of the sudden they just ran towards us,” Yazidi Kurd demonstrator Lucy Usoyan told WJLA. “Someone was beating me in the head nonstop, and I thought, ‘Okay, I’m on the ground already, what is the purpose to beat me?'”
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Erdoğan was visiting the White House shortly after he secured victory in an April referendum that gave him sweeping authority, including the power to rule by decree and abolish the prime minister’s office. Trump called the Turkish strongman the day after the vote to congratulate him, which many found controversial.
“Just because Trump welcomed autocrat Erdoğan to the White House doesn’t mean his thug bodyguards can beat protesters like they do at home,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted.
Amnesty International USA’s executive director Margaret Huang also said, “While these two leaders sit and congratulate each other in the White House, thousands of people around the world are feeling the effects of their spiraling assaults on human rights.”
“President Trump recently praised President Erdoğan for winning a referendum in which dissenting opinions were ruthlessly suppressed. Yet President Trump has been silent on Turkey’s alarming crackdown on the media. This is a disturbing reflection of President Trump’s contempt for human rights,” Huang said. “Trampling the freedoms of journalists and protestors is no cause for celebration.”