November 12, 2019

His bodyguards ran riot in the city as they punched and pushed Kurdish protesters and attacked American security officers

Police in Washington DC, the US state department and the Secret Service are girding themselves for the return of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday, 18 months after the Turkish president’s bodyguards ran riot in the city, assaulting protesters and American security officers.

Newly declassified state department documents provide fresh details of the aggression shown by the Turkish security detail towards their US counterparts both before and after the 2017 attack near the Turkish embassy in north-west Washington. Six officers from the US Secret Service, two from the diplomatic service and one from the Washington police required medical treatment.

The worst injuries, however, were suffered by a small group of protesters that included women, children and elderly men, who were punched and pushed. Some were kicked repeatedly by Erdoğan’s bodyguards and supporters while they were on the ground, and at least two sustained brain injuries from which they are still trying to recover.

The protesters, mostly Kurdish Americans, are making their own preparations for Erdoğan’s return. They plan to turn up in far greater numbers, with the support of ethnic Armenians, dissident Turks and others, to protest against Erdoğan’s treatment of minorities, the Turkish incursion into Syria, Donald Trump’s support for Erdoğan and the failure to bring any of the Turkish security officers to justice after the last visit.

Murat Yasa will be among the protesters on Wednesday, just as he was on 16 May 2017 in Sheridan Circle, a large grassy roundabout near the Turkish ambassador’s residence, in the heart of Washington’s embassy district. His life has been utterly changed since that day when he was pushed to the ground and kicked repeatedly in the head.

“About 20 or 30 of them attacked us from the right, the left, the middle. The police couldn’t stop it,” Yasa, a 62-year-old Kurdish American from Virginia, said.

The complete article can be accessed here.

Cohen Milstein is honored to represent Murat Yasa, Elif Genc, and other survivors of this attack in this lawsuit against the Republic of Turkey.