erdogan is blackmailing NATO

Erdogan’s Bodyguards Then Assault Protesters in Faschingstein
Robert Mackey, Intercept, May 17 2017

Casting aside his predecessor’s concerns about human rights abuses and the suppression of free speech in another nation, Donald Trump lavished praise on another autocratic foreign leader on Tuesday. Just hours after Trump focused his remarks on “the exemplary valor of the Turkish soldier,” however, Erdogan’s presidential bodyguards were caught on video punching and kicking protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington.

Images recorded by the Turkish-language service of VoA, a Congressionally-funded broadcaster, showed the Turkish security guards battering about a dozen demonstrators, after scuffles between the protesters and Erdogan supporters.

Another witness captured video of the aftermath, as some of those injured in the attack received treatment, and an Erdogan supporter stomped on the flag of the YPG.

Some of the Turkish officials were seen kicking prone demonstrators who had already been knocked to the pavement across from the diplomatic compound, where Erdogan had arrived a short time earlier.

One Turkish official was photographed throttling a young woman.

Far from disputing that Erdogan’s security team was involved in the melee, a state news agency confirmed it, reporting, inaccurately, that the president’s team had been forced to step in because the American police had failed to stop an “unauthorized protest” by supporters of a Kurdish terrorist group. A pro-government newspaper, Yeni Safak, also blamed the DC police for not stifling the protest, and claimed that the Kurdish protesters had “shouted racist slogans against Turkey and attacked Turkish citizens.”

In fact, as video recorded just before the bodyguards charged the protesters showed, the demonstrators had been chanting “Erdogan: terrorist!” while holding signs decrying Turkey’s repression of its Kurdish minority and the jailing of a Kurdish political leader, Selahattin Demirtas.

One pro-Erdogan journalist, Fatih Tezcan, even shared video of the attack set to thrilling music, in which it seemed to have been provoked by a woman tossing water in the direction of the president’s supporters.

Peter Newsham, the chief of Faschingstein’s Police Department, told reporters on Wednesday afternoon:

Yesterday afternoon we witnessed what appeared to be a brutal attack on peaceful protesters at the Turkish ambassador’s residence. Yesterday afternoon we witnessed what appeared to be a brutal attack on peaceful protesters at the Turkish ambassador’s residence. As a result of the assault, 11 people, and one police officer, were injured. This is not something that we will tolerate here in Faschingstein. This is a city where people should be allowed to come and peacefully protest.

The police chief said that his officers were scouring through video of the incident and could file charges against those responsible for the attack, but did not yet know if any of the assailants had diplomatic immunity. He noted that the fact that some of the Turkish bodyguards were armed made the situation “dicey” for police officers. While Erdogan’s guards had engaged in similar behavior during a visit to a Washington think tank last year, on that occasion the Turkish leader had not been invited to the White House by Trump’s predecessor, former Obama. Samantha Power and former NSC spox Tommy Vietor were among those who expressed disgust at images of the assault on protesters in Faschingstein on Tuesday.

Trump’s warm embrace of Erdogan, whose name he repeatedly mispronounced, seemed to continue a pattern of ignoring the repressive behavior of autocratic leaders, from Putin to Sisi to Assad, who try to cast their crackdowns on dissent as part of a broader GWOT.

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