New video has emerged showing Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan watching as members of his security detail violently attack a group of peaceful protesters who were outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.
The incident happened shortly before Erdogan entered the ambassador’s residence after meeting with president Trump at the White House on Tuesday.
The video obtained by Voice of America, shows Erdogan sitting in the rear of a black Mercedes sedan when a Turkish security officer leans in and appears to be talking with the president for about 15 seconds.
The protesters, who were at this moment chanting anti-Erdogan slogans outside the residence, can be heard on the video.
Shortly after the conversation with the president, the bodyguard pokes his head out and summons another security officer. Moments later, a group of Erdogan’s bodyguards rush the protesters and begin violently hitting them.
Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency accused the protesters of being “supporters of terror.” It said they chanted anti-Erdogan slogans, and that Erdogan’s team moved in to disperse them because “police did not heed to Turkish demands to intervene.”
But the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., described the incident as a “brutal attack” on peaceful protestors.
Ceren Borazan, a Kurd from Turkey, said she and other protesters were there “to make our voice heard” when Erdogan’s bodyguards rushed them.
“Today I experienced firsthand the extent and savagery of Turkish fascism,” Borazan posted on Facebook. “My Kurdish friends and allies were protesting peacefully against Erdogan being in Washington when we were suddenly attacked by a group of Erdogan’s official bodyguards and secret police.”
Borazan says one of the bodyguards grabbed her from behind and placed her in a choke hold and threatened to kill her. An image of a man in a black suit grabbing her by the neck went viral on social media. Borazan claims she was the woman in the image.
Dear @POTUS I’m being attackd in this photo. I was assaulted by this man, strangled for protesting. Please help me find & prosecute this man pic.twitter.com/8KNfGGWamI
— Ceren Borazan (@CerenBorazan) May 18, 2017
“I ran in the opposite direction from our friends and got caught by one of the security guards,” Borazan narrates on Facebook. “He put me in a headlock to the point where he popped a blood vessel in my eye. He held me and threatened to kill me. I was scared for my life,” she added.
CBN’s Sr International Correspondent George Thomas discusses the potential motive behind the attack
Another video captured by Voice of America shows Turkish security officers, some of whom were armed, violently attacking the protesters.
In one scene, a man walks up to a woman who was already lying on the ground hurt, and struck her in the leg.
#Erdoğan’ın korumaları kavgaya karıştı https://t.co/gsi1iQ68Ye #amerikaninsesi pic.twitter.com/Jv3g5E7AVA
— Amerika’nın Sesi (@VOATurkish) May 17, 2017
“I came here to this country for freedom of speech and demonstration,” Borazan said. “It’s hard to believe this happened in America. I just want justice.”
Borazan uploaded a video to YouTube of a protester who was bloodied in the face after the attack.
“They attacked us like they were wild barbarian animals,” the man says while looking into the camera. “This is not acceptable. This is America. This is not Turkey, they cannot do that. We have every right to protest anyone.”
Shortly after that conversation with the bodyguard, Mr. Erdogan can be seen exiting the back of the car and begins to make his way to the entrance of the ambassador’s residence.
Erdogan walks slowly up the stairs of the home, stopping briefly to see his bodyguards a few feet away still attacking the protesters.
The D.C. Police Department issued a statement saying they were working with the State Department and Secret Service to “identify and hold all subjects accountable for their involvement in the altercation.”
MPD Statement regarding incident outside Turkish Embassy yesterday pic.twitter.com/ELRi0szlrA
— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) May 17, 2017
Two men were arrested at the scene, and police say they intend to pursue charges against others involved as well.
“Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech. We support the rights of people everywhere to free expression & peaceful protest. pic.twitter.com/MEm4jSmCXV
— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) May 17, 2017
The Turkish Embassy released a statement claiming the protestors were “aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the president,” and thus caused Erdogan’s supporters to respond in self-defense.
Sen. John McCain also chimed in, calling for the Turkish ambassador to be removed from the U.S.
“We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America,” McCain told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday. “This is the United States of America. This isn’t Turkey; this isn’t a third-world country; and this kind of thing cannot go un-responded to diplomatically.”
Turkish security guards’ attack on peaceful protesters this wk was a despicable display of thuggery & repression – absolutely unacceptable pic.twitter.com/NQL0KychH4
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 18, 2017
Borazan ends her Facebook post writing, “Today’s experience has shown us that as Kurds we are not even safe from Turkey’s racism and terrorism here in the United States. However that will never stop our spirit and struggle for freedom for our people here and in Kurdistan.”