WASHINGTON DC—At least nine people were reported injured after fighting broke out in front of the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday between supporters of the Turkish president and and a group of Armenian and Kurdish protesters.
Shortly after a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House protestors and Erdogan’s guards clashed outside the residency of the Turkish ambassador.
The fighting erupted between Erdogan supporters and Armenian demonstrators according to The Associated Press. Some Kurdish activists also reported that there were also Kurds among the protesters.
One demonstrator, Flint Arthur of Baltimore, Maryland stated, "We are protesting (Erdogan's) policies in Turkey, in Syria and in Iraq,"
Arthur stated that on at least three different occasions, Erdogan supporters breached police lines to attack the protesters.
"They think they can engage in the same sort of suppression of protest and free speech that they engage in in Turkey," Arthur said. "They stopped us for a few minutes ... but we still stayed and continued to protest Erdogan's tyrannical regime."
Two people were arrested and one charged for assaulting a police officer, Dustin Sternbeck of the Metropolitan Police Department told USA Today.
Samantha Power, former US ambassador to the UN under President Barack Obama, said of the violence on Tuesday: "Clearly Erdogan's guards feel complete impunity, drawing on tools of repression they use at home & knowing he has their back, no matter what,” as reported by CNN.
The protests come in the midst of strained US relations with its NATO ally Turkey over the recent arming of Kurdish militia fighting ISIS militants in Syria.
The relationship between the two nations is further strained by the US refusing to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric currently living in Pennsylvania. Erdogan blames Gulen for coordinating a coup against him last July.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers had asked Trump to discuss human rights issues with Erdogan, citing the increasing suppression within the country as well as mass arrests and civil society restrictions.
However, Trump avoided such issues and instead praised the efforts of Turkey to fight against internal "terrorists" as well as their fight against ISIS militants. Trump stated that the US would “offer our support to Turkey” in fighting "terrorism" and that they also intended to “reinvigorate our trade and commercial ties.” Trump also said “These are areas where we can rebuild our relationship”.
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via Defense News