Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s trip to meet his US counterpart Donald Trump in the White House ended in a bloodied mess after his bodyguard’s attacked Kurdish protestors outside the Turkish ambassador’s residency while Erdogan was reportedly inside.
Nine people were injured, two with severe wounds, while two of the attackers were detained, police reported. One of the attackers was charged with assaulting a police officer.
A video shot by Voice of America Turkish showed the president’s security detail rush a small crowd of Kurdish protestors holding flags of the People Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) before kicking and punching several protestors including women. Two elderly protestors, both men, were left with head wounds and bloodied faces.
— Kom News (@KomNewsCom) May 17, 2017
Speaking to Kom News, a protestor who was the victim of the attack and did not want to be identified for fear of retribution against her family living in Turkey, said:
“They attacked women, children and the elderly with reckless abandon. I ran in the opposite direction from our friends and got caught by one of the security guards. 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.”
An American protestor, Flint Arthur, told CNN they were demonstrating against “Erdogan’s policies in Turkey, in Syria and in Iraq.”
Commenting on the attack he added, “They think they can engage in the same sort of suppression of protest and free speech that they engage in in Turkey.
“They stopped us for a few minutes… but we still stayed and continued to protest Erdogan’s tyrannical regime.”
The Turkish president was in Washington to push the Trump administration to end its support for the YPG, the leading force in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.
The US recently armed the Kurdish group for the first time ahead of the onslaught on the jihadists’ self-styled capital Raqqa, leading to condemnation from Turkish officials.
Ankara views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy in majority Kurdish southeastern Turkey, and claims the former is a threat to its security.
However both Washington and Moscow have formed ties with the 50,000 strong YPG, while critics have accused Turkey of using the PKK to engage an anti-Kurdish policy in the region.
The US president committed to supporting Ankara in its fight against the PKK, but refrained from mentioning the YPG, following the post meeting press conference.
The State Department declined to comment on the attack by Erdogan’s bodyguards.