Turkey, World, Americas

What really happened outside Turkey’s US Embassy?

Anadolu Agency correspondent shares his firsthand account of the altercation outside the Turkish Embassy

20.05.2017
What really happened outside Turkey’s US Embassy?

By Safvan Allahverdi

WASHINGTON

Supporters in the United States of the terrorist organization PKK -- a group which has killed over 1,200 people in Turkey since July 2015 -- triggered the melee and fight outside Turkey's Washington Embassy building during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to the country on May 16.

I was covering Erdogan's visit, so I was able to witness and observe what happened outside the embassy building.

During Erdogan's meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at around 12.30 p.m. local time (1630GMT), PKK supporters, as well as some protesters carrying Armenian flags, started shouting slogans against Turkey and Erdogan at Lafayette Square park, just north of the White House.

A group of Turkish citizens, who were also there to support Erdogan and Turkey, started to respond to the group's verbal harassment.

As the altercation started, Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police and U.S. Secret Service Agents were also around. Turkish citizens were moved from the area by the police, but the PKK sympathizers stayed where they were. The Turkish citizens objected to this.

After hearing the objections, police sent PKK supporters off to a far corner of the park across from the embassy. They also cordoned off the area with police tape. The police did the same to the Turkish citizens, sending them off to an area where there was a direct line of sight to the White House.

Both groups shouted slogans and afterwards dispersed without incident.

Melee outside the Turkish embassy

It was known that President Erdogan would arrive at the Turkish Embassy at around 4 p.m. local time. PKK sympathizers gathered at the park next to the building half an hour earlier.

The supporters of the terrorist group, around 20 people, were carrying posters of Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK's jailed head, as well as jailed Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) head Selahattin Demirtas, and flags of the YPG, the armed Syrian offshoot of the PKK/PYD.

While shouting anti-Erdogan slogans, the group started to swear and insult Turks, who were just across the road. Turkish citizens responded with their own slogans.

As minutes went by, the group escalated the intensity of their swearing and insults against Erdogan and the Turkey supporters.

The protesting group had a permit to gather in front of the White House, but when they gathered outside the Turkish Embassy, they gave the police no notice.

We knew that no permit was needed to gather outside the embassy. But the practice in the U.S. was to inform the police department so that they could take necessary safety measures. We were worried about their gathering with no notice, if they were planning to make a scene.

The PKK supporters made a great effort to make Turkish citizens lose control through their insults and swearing. We saw that the Turkish group was provoked by PKK sympathizers moving into the middle of the road with megaphones.

The first fight broke out when supporters of the terrorist group threw water bottles at Turkish citizens, triggering a 10-15 second fistfight in the middle of the road.

Only two police officers interceded in the fight, and it was clear the police were not ready for such a scene. Besides, there were only around 10 police officers outside the embassy.

Police unresponsive to citizens' injuries

Also stepping into the fight, a Turkish citizen named Alp Kenan Dereci was severely injured when a PKK supporter hit him in the head with a megaphone.

His face was covered in blood. An ambulance came over and Dereci was taken to a hospital.

People who saw Dereci had been hit with a megaphone repeatedly told the police chief at the scene what happened and who hit him.

They told the police chief that it was not just a punch, but an attempted injury. The people also said that the attacker should be arrested or the situation could escalate.

But the police chief said he would not do such a thing, which triggered a bigger altercation because the attacker, who was not arrested, continued with his swearing and insults.

As we later learned, the attacker was named Kasim Kurd, and he was being sought by both federal agents and the D.C. metropolitan police.

Police did not heed the warnings and complaints of Turkish citizens, but instead forced the Turkish supporters back onto the sidewalk.

PKK supporters meters from Erdogan

The police barricaded Turkish citizens after the first altercation, but not the PKK supporters.

With no obstacles to block them, the terrorist group backers got very close to the Turkey supporters and shouted slogans and threw water bottles.

The PKK supporters, who kept a greater distance during Erdogan's White House visit, outside the embassy were able to get within 15-20 meters of him.

Due to the fanaticism of the terrorist group, we were also worried about our own safety.

When Erdogan arrived at the embassy building, protesters continued their grave insults, so some Turkish citizens and the head of the president’s security detail stepped in.

After security interceded, the group dispersed.

Meanwhile, the U.S. media, instead of covering the moments that triggered the situation as a whole, chose to show only the last moments, and so created the impression that Turkey supporters caused the altercation and the terror group supporters were the victims.

Video: What really happened in front of the Turkish Embassy in Washington?

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