Protests break out near the Turkish embassy on Tuesday. Photo: AP via VOA
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A firebrand US senator has advocated for Turkey’s Ambassador Serdar Kilic’s removal of diplomatic credentials after what he called “thuggish” clashes in front of the Turkish embassy in the US capital.
"We should throw the Turkish ambassador out of the country, we should identify those people that performed these unlawful acts of beating people up and they should be charged," Senator John McCain said on national television on Thursday morning.
McCain’s statements are in addition to Kilic being summoned by the US State Department over the incident which left 11 people injured and nine hospitalized, according to police.
On Wednesday, the embassy characterized the event in a statement as demonstrators “aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the president.”
NBC News reported on Wednesday that the men who attacked the protesters were bodyguards of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
McCain is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee which approves funds for the Department of Defense. He is an army veteran and visited Kobani in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria in February, where there is a strong Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) presence.
"This is the United States of America. We do not do this here. There is no excuse for this kind of thuggish behavior," McCain initially tweeted after the incident.
Activists planned the protest titled “Erdogan in Washington: A Rally Against Dictatorship” weeks before Erdogan’s visit to Washington to meet with his US counterpart.
"Erdogan's aggression against Kurds in Syria and Iraq; mass arrests of the HDP leadership; illegal economic blockade of Armenia; arrest of record numbers of journalists," were among the issues listed on the protestors' Facebook page.
There were Turkish, Armenian, Democratic Union Party of Syria (PYD) and US flags visible at the event. The founder of the Ezidi Relief Fund was among those hospitalized.
District of Columbia police announced in a statement it was working with US Secret Service and State Department personnel “to identify and hold all subjects accountable for their involvement in the altercation.”
“We have every intention to pursue charges against the other individuals involved,” read a DC Metro Police statement.
In 2016, the Washington Post reported clashes between protesters and the Turkish leader’s security detail.