Current Cases

Kasim Kurd, et al. v. The Republic of Turkey

Status Current Case

Practice area Human Rights

Court U.S. District Court, District of Columbia

Case number 1:18-cv-01117-CKK


On February 6, 2020, the Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that The Republic of Turkey is not immune from the lawsuit brought by Plaintiffs and denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss. In her ruling, Judge Kollar-Kotelly noted:

  • Turkey failed to cite any case in which allegations of a violent physical attack, involving battery and assault, were found to fall under the discretionary function rule and be entitled to immunity. (Pg. 21)
  • The Turkish security forces did not have the discretion to violently physically attack the protestors, with the degree and nature of force which was used, when the protestors were standing, protesting on a public sidewalk. And, Turkish security forces did not have the discretion to continue violently physically attacking the protestors after the protestors had fallen to the ground or otherwise attempted to flee. (Pg. 27)
  • Plaintiffs have alleged acts by Defendant Turkey which were not grounded in social, economic, or political policy and were not a nature and quality that Congress intended to shield from immunity. (Pg. 34)

Furthermore, Judge Kollar-Kotelly held that Turkey’s political question doctrine and comity doctrine did not apply to this case.

On January 25, 2021, Agnieszka Fryszman argued the case to a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. She served as lead counsel for the appeal, in which she defended the district court’s ruling against Turkey’s appeal.

On July 27, 2021, the three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued their opinion and unanimously agreed with the District Court that Turkey is not entitled to foreign sovereign immunity for its attack on pro-democracy and ethnic Kurd protestors, including children and senior citizens, who were kicked and beaten by President Erdoğan’s security detail.

On October 31, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the Republic of Turkey’s petition for certiorari, which means that the case will now move to trial. On November 22, 2022, the United States District and Bankruptcy Courts for the District of Columbia granted Plaintiffs’ request for default, given Turkey’s repeated and apparent refusals to participate in court proceedings. As a result, Plaintiffs will now be able to proceed with proving their case before the court without Turkey.

Case Background

On May 10, 2018, on behalf of fifteen victims of the vicious May 16, 2017 attack against peaceful protestors outside of the Turkish Chief of Mission Residence in Washington D.C., Cohen Milstein, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, and Michael Tigar, professor emeritus at American University, filed a civil lawsuit against the Republic of Turkey and the civilian supporters who participated in the attack.

On May 16, 2017, peaceful demonstrators – including parents with young children and local business owners – stood in Sheridan Circle, on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C., across the street from the Turkish Chief of Mission’s residence. The demonstrators were peacefully expressing opposition to human rights abuses by Defendant Republic of Turkey against the Kurds, an ethnic minority facing persecution in that country. Suddenly, Turkish security officials pushed past U.S. law enforcement officers to attack and silence the demonstrators, repeatedly punching and kicking defenseless people. One woman was beaten so severely she lost consciousness and had a seizure. Plaintiffs seek to hold Turkey accountable for this outrageous violation of United States, District of Colombia, and international law.

The attack was captured on video and widely covered by the New York Times, The Washington Post, and other national and international news and media outlets.

Counts of this lawsuit include assault, battery, false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress, hate crime pursuant to D.C. Code §22-3704, violation of enforcement jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute, violation of civil rights, among others.

On March 18, 2019, the Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia decided the individual Defendants’—Eyup Yildirim, Sinan Narin, and Alpkenan Dereci – motion to dismiss permitting, Plaintiffs hate crime, assault, battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims to go forward. The case also includes Alien Tort Statute claims against the Government of Turkey.

On February 11, 2019, the Republic of Turkey accepted service and is scheduled to respond on May 13, 2019. Two individual defendants have fled and have yet to be served.