Sen. John McCain must be pleased. US Marshals have arrested two Turkish men living in the US and charged them in the vicious beating of opponents of the Turkish regime who had been peacefully protesting outside the Turkish embassy in Washington last month.
The attack, which unfolded during a visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month, triggered outrage from the US media and from lawmakers, including McCain, who condemned the attackers, warning that they should “get the hell out” of the US if they didn’t know how to follow its laws.
The Turkish government blamed the US government and the DC police for failing to corral the protesters. Last week, the House passed a bill officially condemning the attack.
The State Department identified the men as Eyup Yildirim and Sinan Narin, two American residents of Turkish descent who gathered to be part of Erdogan’s entourage that day. Yildirim, a 50-year-old construction company owner from New Jersey, faces charges of assault with significant bodily injury and aggravated assault. Narin, from Virginia, faces an aggravated assault charge, according to the Daily Caller.
The State Department is also weighing additional action “as appropriate under relevant laws and regulations.”
Both Yildirim and Narin were part of a group of Erdogan supporters who showed up at the Turkish embassy.
The protesters were members of the Kurdish ethnic group, a minority in Turkey who primarily live in a semi-autonomous region in the country’s southeast. Erdogan has in recent years cracked down on the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, a group that has for years waged an insurgent campaign of violence in Turkey. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by both Turkey and the US.
And some of those attacked were women, including one who was allegedly beaten by the two men.
Here’s the Daily Caller.
Lucy Usoyan, the woman kicked and stomped by Yildirim, Narin and other Erdogan supporters, told TheDC that she went to the hospital where she was diagnosed with head trauma. Narin, who was first identified by The New York Times last month, acknowledged to the newspaper that he kicked Usoyan. But he claimed that he thought that Usoyan was a man. Usoyan, a Kurdish activist, said that she feared for her life during the assault. She also said that her doctor told her she would need six weeks to fully recover from the beating.
Erdogan can be seen watching the confrontation from a black Mercedes SUV. The president, who was in town meeting with US President Donald Trump, had just narrowly won a referendum vote granting him sweeping executive powers. The Daily Caller noted that Erdogan might have ordered the assault, according to audio recordings taken during the confrontation. The State Department has identified two of Erdogan’s bodyguards, who also participated in the assault.
"The Department would like to thank the Department of Justice and the investigative agencies for their diligence,” the State Department said in its statement.
“We are committed to holding those responsible for the violence on May 16 accountable. As we have previously stated, the events surrounding the conduct of Turkish Security personnel during President Erdogan’s visit to the United States is troubling.”
The Metro police department says that additional information about the case will be released on Thursday.
The video shows men in suits, apparently bodyguards and supporters of Erdogan, punching and kicking the protesters as the police tried to intervene. At one point, a man threw a bullhorn, two men could be seen bleeding from the head, and another man was on the ground being violently kicked. Two men were arrested following the brawl, though it’s unclear if it’s the same two men who were charged.
“All of the sudden they just ran towards us,” Yazidi Kurd demonstrator Lucy Usoyan told ABC, adding that she was attacked by a pro-Erdogan supporter quoted by the Associated Press.
“Someone was beating me in the head nonstop, and I thought, ‘Okay, I’m on the ground already, what is the purpose to beat me?’
Hours earlier Trump and Erdogan stood side by side at the White House and promised to strengthen strained ties despite the Turkish leader’s stern warning about Washington’s decision to arm a Kurdish militia.
While the two men arrested live in the US, the US government could try to punish the Turks another way, including through diplomatic channels. At least two lawmakers have called on the U.S. State Department to halt the planned sale of $1.6 million worth of firearms to the Turkish security detail, the Daily Caller reported.