WASHINGTON—Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Dave Trott (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) were joined by House Intelligence Committee Chairman and Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) and key leaders of House Foreign Affairs Committee in calling on the State Department to reject the pending sale of semi-automatic guns for use by Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s security detail, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“We greatly appreciate the bipartisan leadership of Representatives Trott, Pallone and their Armenian Caucus colleagues against the controversial sale of U.S. handguns to the very same armed Erdogan security detail that, on this dictator’s direct command, attacked Americans exercising our Constitutional rights at the peaceful May 16th protest organized in Washington, DC by the ANCA and our coalition partners,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Erdogan and his henchmen should be brought to justice for their crimes, not rewarded with American weaponry.”
Rep. Trott explained, “Right here, on U.S. soil, we witnessed President Erdogan’s blatant disregard for democracy as his henchmen waged a brutal attack on peaceful protestors. As the very model of freedom and liberty around the world, the United States cannot condone such an overt suppression of democracy and this proposed arms deal would be nothing less than an endorsement of Erdogan’s henchmen’s brutal attack. We need to call out and hold accountable President Erdogan and his bodyguards for who they really are – thugs.”
News of the proposed $1.2 million gun sale to Turkey and Congressional opposition was first reported by The New York Times reporter Nicholas Fandos. The request for Congressional review of the matter was submitted on the eve of the May 16th attack in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC, videotaped live by the ANCA’s Hamparian. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Democrat Ben Cardin (D-MD) and House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) were among the first to raise objections to the sale.
The Trott-Pallone letter states that “We can no longer enable Turkey 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. As such, we strongly urge you to reject this proposed sale and any potential weapons transfer to President Erdogan’s security detail.” The complete text of the letter is provided below.
Thousands across the U.S. contacted their Congressional leaders in support of the letter through the ANCA’s Rapid Responder program and online activism portal by visiting anca.org/NoGunsforTurkey. ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship and Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway program participants reached out to Congressional staff and constituents in support of the measure.
Congressional leaders joining Representatives Trott and Pallone in co-signing the letter include Representatives: Don Beyer (D-VA), Mike Bishop (R-MI), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Sander Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), James McGovern (D-MA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), and John Yarmuth (D-KY).
A similar letter opposing the gun sale was led by Congressional Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and secured the support of Representatives: Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL), James McGovern (D-MA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Dina Titus (D-NV).
On June 6th, with a vote of 397 to 0, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously condemned Turkey in response to the attacks, taking a powerful stand against Ankara’s attempts to export its violence and intolerance to America’s shores. H.Res.354, spearheaded by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), received the public backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).
The vote followed broad-based Congressional outrage expressed by over 100 Senate and House members through public statements, social media, and a series of Congressional letters.
ANCA live footage of the attack served as source video for CNN, AP, The Washington Post, The Daily Caller and other major media, transforming the violent incident into a global spotlight on Erdogan’s attempt to export his intolerance and aggression to American shores.
The Sunday, June 4th edition of The New York Times featured a two-page center-spread investigative report on the May 16th attack, with online version of the coverage translated to Turkish and shared widely on social media. The ANCA is cited by The New York Times as a source for this report.
The May 16th protest in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence was a continuation of a demonstration held earlier in the day in front of the White House, co-hosted by the ANCA. As President Trump met with President Erdogan. human rights and religious rights groups were joined by representatives of the Kurdish, Yezidi and Armenian communities to call attention to the Erdogan regime’s escalating repression against free press, the Kurdish and other ethnic communities, as well as Turkey’s ongoing obstruction of justice for the Armenian Genocide.
Text of Trott-Pallone Letter to Secretary of State Tillerson Opposing Gun Sale to Turkish President Erdogan’s Security Detail
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We write today to urge you to reject the proposed sale of semi-automatic handguns and ammunition to a Turkish government controlled entity authorized to import firearms to the Department of Security of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey.
As you know, on May 16, members of President Erdogan’s security detail violently attacked peaceful protestors outside the residence of the Turkish Ambassador in Washington, DC. With President Erdogan just feet away, looking on, armed members of his security detail unleashed a vicious attack, targeting non-violent protestors and American Diplomatic Security Officers, resulting in severe neurological, oral, and maxillofacial injuries. Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a series of disturbing attacks by President Erdogan’s security forces in the United States, including a brawl at the United Nations, and a series of physical fights in Washington, DC in May 2016. This same security force now stands to be the beneficiary of a potential arms deal.
On June 6, 2017, the House of Representatives spoke strongly and swiftly, voting unanimously to pass House Resolution 354, condemning the violence that took place outside the Ambassador’s residence on May 16, and calling on the perpetrators to be brought to justice under U.S. law. We can no longer enable Turkey 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. As such, we strongly urge you to reject this proposed sale and any potential weapons transfer to President Erdogan’s security detail.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.