House votes to condemn Turkish security violence against protesters

The House on Tuesday formally expressed bipartisan anger against Turkish security forces for violently suppressing demonstrators outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C., last month.

In the form of a resolution passed in a 397-0 vote, lawmakers called for any Turkish security officials who directed or participated in attacking demonstrators outside the ambassador’s residence to be charged and prosecuted under U.S. law.

At least 11 people were injured during a clash between protesters and Turkish security guards on the same day Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with President Trump at the White House.  

“We must speak loudly and clearly that we will protect our citizens and their fundamental rights to free speech and to assembly,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.).

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“Turkey is an important and longstanding NATO ally. But the Turkish government can and should do better than this.”

The Trump administration has come under bipartisan pressure to ensure the Turkish guards involved in the incident are brought to justice.

A bipartisan group of senators, led by Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillBig Dem names show little interest in Senate Gillibrand, Grassley reintroduce campus sexual assault bill Endorsements? Biden can't count on a flood from the Senate MORE (D-Mo.), wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking that he call on the Turkish government to waive diplomatic immunity for all personnel involved. If the Turkish government doesn’t cooperate, they argued, Tillerson should rescind visas for Turkish government officials, including the diplomatic credentials for the Turkish ambassador. 

Multiple Democrats, including Washington’s delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Rep. Don Beyer (Va.), the former ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, called for the expulsion of the Turkish ambassador to Washington and other officials. 

The U.S. briefly held two members of Erdogan’s security detail, but later released them to return to Turkey due to diplomatic immunity. 

The resolution passed by the House on Tuesday says that the State Department should request waivers for immunity of any Turkish security official involved in the altercation.

In the meantime, a joint investigation by the Washington Metropolitan Police, Secret Service and State Department Diplomatic Security Service is underway. 

Erdogan’s government has contradicted U.S. accounts of the incident. Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to Ankara last month to lodge a formal complaint against what it called "aggressive and unprofessional actions" by American security personnel. 

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the resolution was “one-sided” and “distorts the facts” when it was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in late May.

The incident, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman alleged in a statement, “was caused as a result of the refusal of US authorities to take necessary security measures, despite repeated official warnings.”

Last month’s clash in D.C. was the third in recent years involving Erdogan’s security detail on U.S. soil.

Members of Erdogan’s security detail were involved in an altercation in 2011 with United Nations security officers at the U.N. General Assembly. They also clashed with protesters at an event at the Brookings Institution, where Erdogan spoke last year and tried to turn away Turkish journalists trying to cover it.