Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 13 December 2019

Nine hurt and two arrested after Erdogan bodyguards brawl with protesters in Washington

Two people were arrested during a brawl outside the residence of Turkey’s ambassador to Washington following a White House visit on Tuesday by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Opponents of Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a rally in Lafayette Park. Later, Erdogan supporters and security guards clashed with Kurdish and Armenian protesters. Shawn Thew / EPA
Opponents of Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a rally in Lafayette Park. Later, Erdogan supporters and security guards clashed with Kurdish and Armenian protesters. Shawn Thew / EPA

WASHINGTON // Two people were arrested during a brawl outside the residence of Turkey’s ambassador to Washington following a White House visit on Tuesday by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan supporters and security guards clashed with Kurdish and Armenian protesters who accuse him of rights abuses, local news reports said.

Mr Erdogan met US president Donald Trump at the White House for a visit that aimed to improve strained ties.

After the Turkish president left the White House, tensions over the Kurdish issue spilled onto the streets of Washington.

The Turkish president stopped by the ambassador’s residence in the upscale Sheridan Circle neighbourhood, where protests prompted city officials to shut down nearby streets, causing heavy traffic.

Police managed to keep the rival groups apart at first, but eventually were outmuscled.

Videos from Tuesday’s protests showed Mr Erdogan’s security detail attack protesters carrying the flag of the Kurdish PYD party outside the ambassador’s residence.

Ankara believes that the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) in Syria are simply the Syrian arm of the PKK, which has waged a deadly insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.

The videos showed people from both sides shouting and being punched — with each side accusing the other of being the aggressors.

“We weren’t doing anything wrong,” a pro-Erdogan demonstrator, Mustafa Dikilitas, told ABC television. “We just celebrated our president.”

“One of the YPG supporters ran across, picked up a megaphone, and hit a Turkish citizen with it,” said another pro-Erdogan demonstrator, Busra Eren, referring to the Kurdish militia group.

Demonstrators on the other side, meanwhile, blamed Erdogan’s partisans for the violence.

“All of the sudden they just ran towards us,” Yazidi Kurd demonstrator Lucy Usoyan said, adding that she was attacked by one of the pro-Erdogan supporters.

“Someone was beating me in the head non-stop, and I thought, ‘OK, I’m on the ground already, what is the purpose to beat me?’”

Washington police eventually sent reinforcements and restored order, but emergency services said nine people were taken to the hospital, one of them in critical condition.

* Agence France-Presse

Updated: May 17, 2017 04:00 AM

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