The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, comes to Washington on Wednesday to meet with Donald Trump and with him comes back the memory of his last visit, in May 2017, which resulted in eleven injured in altercations related to an aggression of 18 members of his security team against demonstrators protesting outside the residence of the Turkish ambassador.
Erdogan’s arrival to meet Trump at the White House on Wednesday comes just over a month after the announcement of the withdrawal of U.S. troops in northeast Syria, which led to the invasion of that region by the Turkish army.
On the occasion of the visit, organizations representing the Kurdish and Armenian communities and other minorities present in Syria called a demonstration in front of the White House on the same day.
The memory of the last protests, during which, according to videos published on social networks, Erdogan remained impassive watching the confrontation from the door of the consular residence, is still very much alive.
In statements to Efe, Aram Suren Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee in America, one of the entities convening the new demonstration, states that the 2017 riots demonstrated that the Turkish leader has “a free pass” in the United States to “do whatever he wants without any consequences”.
This was reflected in the fact that of the 18 people that the authorities claimed were related to the aggressions against the demonstrators, only four were arrested or prosecuted.
For all these reasons, and because this year’s demonstration will bring together “Kurds, Greeks, Syrians, and many Christian groups, among others,” Haram says that this Wednesday’s protest will be much more crowded and diverse than two years ago.
A heterogeneity also present in the reasons for this call, as Efe Stephen Flint, one of the representatives of the Kurdish community in the country, points out.
“Erdogan will be the focus of the protest. However, we also want to convey to the White House and the State Department that they should listen to the advice of the bipartisan commission on Syria in Congress, which said it is a very bad idea to withdraw troops in Syria,” Flint said.
A withdrawal that he believes could lead to “an ethnic cleansing operation against Kurds, Armenians, Yazidi and Christian minorities” by the Turks, “as has already happened in other regions.
For Haram, the return of U.S. troops deployed in Syria shows that “Trump basically lives in the past, dreaming of an imaginary Turkey that has not existed for more than a decade”.
Something that coincides with Flint, although this nuances that the previous U.S. executives have not paid attention to the “ethnic cleansing” occurred on Turkish soil: “For the Kurds what is happening now is more of the same, but this time in Syria,” he says.
Asked if they are afraid that the aggressions against demonstrators in 2017 will be repeated on this occasion, both activists answer in the affirmative.
“There has been violence from Erdogan’s bodyguards not only in the District of Columbia, but also in New York and around the world. It’s obvious that we feel threatened, how we’re not going to do it,” Flint lamented.