Home inContext Two Arrested for Assaulting Kurdish Protesters in DC

Two Arrested for Assaulting Kurdish Protesters in DC

Madison Jackson
A video screenshot showing Turkey's presidential guard assaulting peaceful protesters in Washington DC earlier this year.

U.S. marshals arrested two Turkish men who live in the United States on Wednesday morning. Sinan Narin of Virginia and Eyup Yildirim of New Jersey took part in a violent attack outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence during President Erdogan’s visit to Washington D.C. on May 16. Narin has been charged with felony assault, and Yildirim was charged with two counts of felony assault.

The day of the brutal attack, a group of protesters met peacefully at Sheridan Circle to display their opposition to the Turkish president. Video of the incident shows Erdogan’s security guards, who wear Turkey’s presidential seal and identity badges and sidearms, as well as some other pro-government supporters violently confronting a small group of mainly Kurdish protesters who had gathered in a park. The men, most in dark suits, kicked one woman over and over again, as she was curled on the sidewalk. Another woman was thrown to the ground, and a man with a bullhorn was kicked in the face. Nine people were injured; two people were arrested at the scene, but many of the assailants escaped the police.

On Thursday, DC Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham held a press conference where he read the names of 14 foreign nationals who face charges stemming from the incident if they return to the U.S.

Last week the House passed a resolution unanimously condemning the assault and calling for charges against members of Erdogan’s security forces. Sen. John McCain tweeted, “This is the United States of America. We do not do this here. There is no excuse for this kind of thuggish behavior.” Additionally, the State Department called Turkey’s ambassador to the United States to complain about the security forces violence, and then the Turkish Foreign Ministry returned the meeting by complaining about the way the detained security guards were being treated. The White House, however, declined to condemn the incident.

The attack and the arrests will likely aggravate already strained ties between Washington and Ankara. The NATO allies previously clashed over a U.S. decision to arm Syrian Kurdish rebels fighting the Islamic State group in Syria. Turkey considers the fighters to be part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist organization and insists – although without evidence – that the protesters during Erdogan’s visit to D.C. must have been associated with the PKK as well.