H.Res.354 Passes Unanimously, Calling for the Perpetrators to be ‘Brought to Justice’
WASHINGTON (A.W.)—The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H.Res.354 on June 6, condemning the May 16 attack by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bodyguards against peaceful protesters in Washington D.C., through a bipartisan resolution “calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and measures to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.”
The resolution passed with a vote of 397 for and none against.
“With today’s vote, Congress started rolling back Ankara’s occupation of Washington, D.C.,” said Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “After far too many years of appeasing Ankara turning a blind eye to its genocidal horrors, abuses at home, and aggression abroad—the United States, starting with the House of Representatives—today turned an important corner, challenging Turkey’s violence and confronting its increasingly anti-American conduct.”
H.Res.354, spearheaded by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), was adopted unanimously by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 25. The measure had also received the public backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The resolution condemns the violence against peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence on May 16, and calls for “the perpetrators to be brought to justice and measures to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.”
Chairman Royce led floor discussion of the measure, noting, “the violent attacks by officers assigned to Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail against peaceful protesters back on May 16 were designed to do one thing: they were designed to silence those protesters’ criticism of the Turkish government. And that is why it is so important that we speak out. We must speak loudly and clearly that we will protect our citizens, our citizens and their fundamental rights to free speech and to assembly.”
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was adamant in his condemnation of the attacks. “It should be clear to Turkey and to all nations that we will oppose any attempt to suppress dissent or the freedom of speech. That is why that is in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Because our founding fathers and, frankly, those who follow western values and, yes, some eastern values believe that free speech is the absolute essential for democracy to succeed and flourish.”
Maryland Congressman Sarbanes called for a complete re-evaluation of the U.S.-Turkey relationship, noting that the incident “unmasked President Erdogan for the bully he is… It reflects a deeply embedded reflex that in the modern era has brought the world, among other things, the unlawful invasion and occupation of Cyprus, the Armenian Genocide and the violent repression of the Kurdish people. We cannot pretend that it is business as usual with a foreign leader that has attacked our nation’s most cherished democratic value—cherished democratic values on our very own soil.”
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton expressed particular concern that the beatings are part of a pattern or repression by President Erdogan’s bodyguards. “A similar incident occurred about a half dozen years ago at the United Nations. Same head of state. Same thugs attacking peaceful protesters. Last year, just this past year, there was an attack on journalists outside of the Brookings institute. So if we don’t tell them it’s time to stop when we had the third attack, they will persist, that is for sure.”
New York Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-Calif.) said: “Erdogan simply decided to treat Americans the way he treats his own people. His guards even had the nerve to attack law enforcement officials who were protecting him and his delegation. This behavior cannot stand. And the resolution before us sends a clear, decisive message that congress won’t tolerate it.”
“It’s outrageous that Erdogan and his thugs felt they could beat up peaceful protesters on the streets of Washington. We don’t need him exporting his violence and repressive tactics to the United States,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who helped lead last week’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing into the attacks on peaceful protesters. “I’m pleased that the House took this initial step today. Moving forward, we must make clear to Erdogan that freedom of speech is the law of the land in this country.”
The full text of the resolution can be read here.