Reveals U.S. Has Yet to Ask Ankara to Waive Immunity for Assailants
WASHINGTON—In a sign of the continued rift created by the May 16 Turkish presidential security detail’s attack on peaceful American protesters in Washington D.C., U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed, in response to Congressional inquiries, that he “has no knowledge of [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan apologizing or expressing regret for the May 16 assault.” In addition, however, he acknowledged that the U.S. government has yet to request that Ankara waive diplomatic immunity for the Turkish bodyguards indicted for these unprovoked attacks, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In admitting, without explanation, that the Department of State has not asked Turkey to waive immunity, Secretary Tillerson noted that the State Department is working with the Department of Justice on this matter and will weigh any possible additional steps on a case-by-case basis. His responses came to written questions submitted by Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in June of this year. The Secretary’s responses were made public this week.
“We welcome Secretary Tillerson’s refreshingly straightforward admission that President Erdogan remains defiant and unapologetic in the face of global outrage over his May 16th attack,” said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the ANCA. “At the same time, we remain troubled that, nearly five months after this foreign attack against peaceful protesters on American soil, legal and diplomatic actions have yet to be undertaken by our government to bring his security detail back to the United States to stand trial for their actions.”
A grand jury in the U.S. capital issued indictments against 19 people, including 15 members of Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan’s security detail, for their brutal May 16 attack against peaceful protesters gathered in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington. Hamparian’s live video, shot at the scene, showed pro-Erdogan forces crossing a police line and beating peaceful protesters—elderly men and several women—who were on the ground bleeding during most of the attack. In June, with a vote of 397 to 0, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously condemned Turkey in response to the attacks, taking a powerful stand against Ankara’s attempts to export its violence and intolerance to America’s shores.
Responding to strong Congressional pressure, the Trump Administration officially withdrew its controversial proposal to allow the sale of U.S. semi-automatic handguns to Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail last month, following outrage regarding the May 16 attacks.