Preceding events key to understanding the whole picture, Ambassador Kilic says of May 16 incident
Protesters who clashed with Turkish Americans in Washington, D.C. during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit posed a threat to his delegation, Turkey’s ambassador to the U.S. said.
Serdar Kilic argued in an op-ed in USA Today that there were issues with the way the May 16 incident was portrayed in the U.S. media, saying the preceding events are crucial to having a proper understanding of what happened.
“A group of Turkish Americans had gathered to voice their support for President Erdogan and to meet him in person. About the same time, a group of protesters carrying symbols of the terrorist group PKK/YPG moved from the White House to Sheridan Circle. The two groups faced each other without being separated,” Kilic wrote Wednesday.
“Then the protesters started to throw objects at the Turkish Americans gathered to welcome the president. The two groups clashed, and the fight began. One of the Turkish Americans was seriously hurt.
“President Erdogan’s motorcade and security detail arrived with this scene unfolding before them. Unfortunately, although they had already proved to be violent, the so-called peaceful demonstrators were allowed to remain roughly 30 feet from the president.”
Kilic added that the incident would never have happened if the demonstrators, following their initial provocations, had been taken to the other side of Sheridan Circle, “ensuring enough security distance between the two demonstrating groups and the president’s security.
“The right to freely assemble should not compromise the security of foreign dignitaries, especially those from countries like Turkey that suffer the scourge of terrorism,” Kilic added.
According to police, 11 people — including one police officer — were injured during the incident outside the embassy residence. Nine were hospitalized.