By Rep. Dave Trott (R-Mich), Special for the Armenian Weekly
In May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s henchmen waged a brutal attack on peaceful protesters outside of the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence in Washington, D.C. While this incident is reflective of the Turkish government’s broad suppression of democracy, this is the United States, and these overt acts of violence against those expressing their First Amendment right cannot be tolerated.
Even more disturbing is this outrageous behavior was not an isolated incident. The Turkish government has a rich history of violence, brutality, and, of course, denial. From the Ottoman Empire’s campaign to exterminate the Armenian people to Erdogan’s thugs kicking peaceful protesters in the head in Washington, Erdogan and his high-priced lobbyists have continually shut down free speech and press in an effort to rewrite history.
In response to the latest attack by Erdogan’s henchmen, I was proud to strongly support a resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives denouncing the attacks and demanding the perpetrators be brought to justice. Of course, this resolution was met with a ridiculous response on the part of the Turkish government. Erdogan’s regime even went so far as to blame D.C.’s own local police force for their violent behavior, but their continued attempts to rewrite history will not hinder my efforts.
The Department of State recently informed Congress it is considering an application to sell arms to the Turkish government—arms that will be made available to the same bodyguards that beat up these protesters. I immediately led a bipartisan effort in Congress to stop this sale. The United States cannot be complicit in Turkey’s efforts to compromise our democratic values, and this proposed arms sale is nothing short of an endorsement of the actions of President Erdogan’s security force.
Just last week, Germany, our fellow NATO ally, took the extraordinary step of beginning to withdraw troops from Incirlik Air Base. German officials additionally made clear to Erdogan that any members of his security detail involved in the brawl outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington were not welcome to attend the G20 Summit and banned from visiting Germany for the foreseeable future.
We have let Turkey off the hook for too long. Thankfully, my amendment to stop this arms sale to Turkey passed the House of Representatives unanimously.
Furthermore, I worked across the aisle to introduce an amendment that would block any of Erdogan’s guards involved in the Washington brawl from receiving visas to return to the United States. Slowly, but surely, we’re holding the Turkish government accountable, and Erdogan’s PR team in Washington won’t be able to whitewash his actions for much longer. In just the past month, two measures to hold the Turkish government accountable have passed the House of Representatives unanimously—an unthinkable feat a year ago.
I have the honor of representing a strong and vibrant Armenian community in Southeast Michigan, and, in representing them, I have always worked to ensure they have a seat at the table in our nation’s capital.
Whether it’s fighting to ensure the U.S. finally recognizes the Armenian Genocide, standing up for the Armenian people, right here, in the United States, or ensuring our nation stands firm against President Erdogan’s violent henchmen, my goal is to always be a staunch defender of the Armenian community at home and abroad.
It’s about time the United States tells Erdogan that Turkey’s strategic location does not place it above the law.