Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

Pascrell Joins Colleagues Seeking Action After Turkish Security Violence

May 23, 2017
Press Release
Letter asks Secretary Tillerson to take legal action against Turkish security detail who attacked embassy protesters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) joined colleagues, led by U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), on a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to arrest, prosecute, and jail the members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail who were caught on video brutally attacking protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. last week.

In the letter, the members state, “This kind of behavior by a foreign security detail is reprehensible and cannot be tolerated. These actions are not only criminal, they are affronts to U.S. values. Freedom of speech and freedom to protest may be prohibited in Turkey and offensive to the Turkish President, but they are bedrock U.S. principles that must be safeguarded.”

The full text of the letter can be found below (PDF of signed letter).

Dear Secretary Tillerson:

On May 16, members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail were caught on video brutally attacking protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC and deliberately disregarding police orders to halt their assaults. The video is incredibly disturbing. We urge you to immediately condemn this outrageous attack in the strongest terms possible and use all tools at your disposal so that these men are denied diplomatic immunity and prosecuted to the fullest extent of U.S. law.

Based on the video of the incident, these Turkish security guards should be arrested, prosecuted and jailed. Numerous members of President Erdogan’s security detail kicked, punched, and trampled people holding posters who were standing in a park that is clearly not part of the embassy. These Turkish security guards kicked men and women crouched on the ground and disregarded numerous commands by police to cease and desist. According to news reports, nine people were hurt, including two who were seriously injured and taken to the hospital. The blooded faces on the video are shocking.

This kind of behavior by a foreign security detail is reprehensible and cannot be tolerated. These actions are not only criminal, they are affronts to U.S. values. Freedom of speech and freedom to protest may be prohibited in Turkey and offensive to the Turkish President, but they are bedrock U.S. principles that must be safeguarded.

Although the State Department’s spokesperson has issued a statement on this matter, more must be done. It is incumbent upon you, as the top diplomat of the United States, to speak out publicly against these actions and, just as importantly, ensure that these men are held fully accountable for their actions.

Sincerely,

Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12)
Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (VA-8)
Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1)
Robert A. Brady (PA-1)
Joaquin Castro (TX-20)
David N. Cicilline (RI-1)
Katherine M. Clark (MA-5)
Charlie Crist (FL-13)
Bill Foster (IL-11)
Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-3)
Brian Higgins (NY-26)
Jared Huffman (CA-2)
Daniel T. Kildee (MI-5)
Daniel W. Lipinski (IL-3)
Zoe Lofgren (CA-19)
Betty McCollum (MN-4)
James P. McGovern (MA-2)
Seth Moulton (MA-6)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6)
Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9)
Chellie Pingree (ME-1)
Bobby L. Rush (IL-1)
John P. Sarbanes (MD-3)
Janice D. Schakowsky (IL-9)
Brad Sherman (CA-30)
Mark Takano (CA-41)
Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-7)
John A. Yarmuth (KY-3)