May 14, 2018

A former East Rutherford resident who said she was choked during a protest in Washington last year by security forces of the Turkish president is suing the Turkish government and the alleged attackers one year after the incident made international headlines.

Ceren Borazan was among 15 people who filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeking unspecified damages for injuries they sustained during the attack, which was caught on videos that were widely shared online.

The group had gathered outside the Turkish ambassador's residence on May 16, 2017, to protest President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his administration, and to call for an end to human rights abuses against the Kurdish ethnic minority.

During the demonstration, about a dozen security guards charged at the demonstrators and punched and kicked them. Borazan, 27, was seen in a video of the incident being grabbed by the neck by a guard and thrown to the ground. She said a guard had threatened to kill her and that she was "scared for her life."

Other protesters suffered bruises, pain, seizures, broken teeth and a concussion, the lawsuit says.

Borazan recently moved from East Rutherford to Virginia. She had received threats after she spoke out publicly about her treatment and did not want to remain in her home, said Agnieszka Fryszman, an attorney with the firm Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll, which is handling the case.

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Charges against four guards remain, but the men left the country soon after the incident, Fryszman said.

"A lot of people involved fled [the country], and they will probably never face accounting in the criminal justice system," Fryszman said. "So this is the only way to get some semblance of justice."

The lawsuit says the guards should be held liable for assault and battery and for hate crimes, Fryszman said, claiming the guards shouted anti-Kurdish slurs and threats

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