A video of last week’s vicious attack on American protesters in Washington may show the moment an order was given to set Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s beefy security gang upon the demonstrators.
It’s not clear who gave the order last Tuesday to attack protesters across the street from the Turkish ambassador’s house. But in a video taken by Voice of America, a U.S. government-funded news source, someone can be heard saying what sounds like “Come, come, come!” and “He says attack” in Turkish, three university language experts told U.S. News & World Report on Saturday.
During the assaults, at least 20 men in suits raced to the protesters and repeatedly kicked and slugged them in a brutal attack. Washington police were outnumbered and overwhelmed as they tried to protect the demonstrators, at least nine of whom were eventually sent to the hospital.
Another VOA video shows Erdogan, shortly after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump that morning, sitting in a limo across the street, in front of the Turkish ambassador’s house, during the protest. The video — analyzed in freeze frames by The Washington Post — shows an aide talking to Erdogan through a window. The aide then speaks to another man, who in turn heads quickly toward the protest. The gang of security men descend upon the demonstrators within seconds. A third man standing near Erdogan’s limo is seen in the video attacking protesters.
The video appears to show the attacks were unprovoked.
The U.S. State Department has expressed its “dismay” to the Turkish government about the violence. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was blunter, saying the Turkish ambassador should “get the hell out” of the U.S.
“We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America,” McCain said last week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “This isn’t Turkey. This isn’t a third-world country.”
The violence “should have repercussions, including identifying these people and bringing charges against them,” McCain said. “They violated American laws.”
McCain and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a joint letter to Erdogan denouncing his staff’s “blatant violation” of American rights.
“The violent response of your security detail to peaceful protestors is wholly unacceptable and, unfortunately, reflective of your government’s treatment of the press, ethnic minority groups and political opponents,” the senators’ statement said.
The Turkish Embassy blamed the violence on the demonstrators, claiming they were “aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet” Erdogan and that the security detail was protecting them. The video does not support that account.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told “Fox News Sunday” that the Trump administration won’t take any further action until after an investigation.
“You don’t need further information,” McCain said later on the same program. “Just look at the clip.”
The president has a major business interest in Turkey ― Trump Towers Istanbul.
“I have a little conflict of interest ‘cause I have a major, major building in Istanbul,” Trump said in a 2015 interview on a Breitbart radio program. “It’s tremendously successful. It’s called Trump Towers ― two towers, instead of one.”
In the VOA footage, the words “gel, gel, gel” — “come, come, come” — can be heard, followed by “dalın diyor” — “he says attack,” according to the translators.
Local police and the Secret Service are also investigating. Very few arrests were made because the police had their hands full protecting protesters. It’s also not clear how many of the attackers may have had diplomatic immunity.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) last week called for the arrest and prosecution of the “thugs” in Erdogan’s security detail.
“If Erdogan’s bodyguards who participated in this attack have entered the country on diplomatic visas, those visas should be revoked right away,” she said. “The United States needs to send a strong message that we will not stand by” as Erdogan brings “thuggish tactics to our nation’s capital.”
Erdogan was elected head of the ruling AK Party on Sunday. Observers expect this will enable him to even further solidify his power in his country.