TURKISH CRACKDOWN ON PEACEFUL PROTESTERS; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 97
(House of Representatives - June 07, 2017)

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[Pages H4651-H4652]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                TURKISH CRACKDOWN ON PEACEFUL PROTESTERS

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Schiff) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, on May 16, a group of peaceful protesters 
gathered at a public park outside the Turkish Ambassador's residence in 
northwest Washington, D.C. They came from a variety of backgrounds--
Armenian, Kurdish, Yazidi, and more--but they shared a common concern 
about developments in Turkey, including the crackdown on political 
opposition and free speech in that country and Turkey's continued 
denial of the Armenian genocide.
  About a mile away, Turkey's President, Tayyip Erdogan was received 
warmly by President Trump at the White House, with no mention of 
Turkey's human rights abuses and growing authoritarianism. The 
protesters felt, and rightly so, that they had to exercise their First 
Amendment rights and raise their voices in dissent, the very dissent 
which has been violently squelched by Erdogan in his own country.
  What happened next was a chaotic and violent confrontation that left 
11 people injured, 2 of whom required hospitalization. Tensions were 
already high, with pro-Turkish counter-protesters outside the residence 
scuffling with protesters.
  When Erdogan and his entourage arrived, the situation quickly 
spiraled out of control. As he exited his car, observing the protests, 
Erdogan can be seen on video speaking briefly to his security detail, 
and soon thereafter, several of these men, some of them armed with 
handguns, rushed past D.C. police officers to violently confront 
protesters, causing several injuries.
  The images that you see to my right are indelible and bloody. A 
Kurdish woman was put in a choke hold and told by the dark-suited man 
who attacked her that he was going to kill her. Protesters, men and 
women alike, were knocked to the ground and assaulted with kicks to the 
face and torso.
  This was not a scuffle. It was a full-fledged assault by professional 
thugs on a peaceful protest. Such scenes have become common in Turkey, 
where state-sponsored violence and repression have become the chief 
instrument to cement Erdogan's power.
  Selahattin Demirtas was, until recently, the leader of the Kurdish 
HDP party and someone I had the honor to meet 2 years ago, and now he 
sits in prison as prosecutors seek to sentence him to 143 years of 
confinement.
  Turkey has become the world's leading jailer of journalists, most 
recently adding French photojournalist Mathias Depardon, held in 
solitary confinement and without charge, to the ranks of 81 journalists 
currently imprisoned.
  Mr. Speaker, Erdogan cannot export the violent repression he visits 
on his own citizens to our streets. The violence of May 16 can't go 
unanswered or forgotten.
  Yesterday the House unanimously passed H. Res. 354, condemning the 
attacks and calling on the administration to pursue justice and hold 
those who carried out these attacks responsible, whether they be 
Turkish or not.
  This is a good start, but it cannot be the end. The D.C. police 
department is carrying out an investigation into the attacks, and 
ultimately they will require cooperation from Turkish authorities in 
identifying those responsible. Nothing that Turkey has done so far 
indicates that that cooperation will be forthcoming, and indeed, rather 
than show even the slightest contrition after their security forces 
assaulted Americans, authorities in Ankara instead summoned the U.S. 
Ambassador to lodge a complaint against the United States and police 
officers who sought to keep the peace. The message from Turkey is as 
clear as day: We can do as we please whether at home to our own 
citizens or on your own American soil.
  Mr. Speaker, I stand here today to affirm that we will not allow 
Turkey to beat innocent protesters on the streets of our Nation's 
capital. We will continue to pursue justice and to make clear that 
America will always stand up for the right of peaceful and free 
expression.

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