Erdogan warns Turkey opposition chief over 'justice march'

Jerome Frank
June 18, 2017

Video of the incident shows Erdogan's security guards, who wear Turkey's presidential seal and identity badges and sidearms, as well as some other pro-government supporters violently confronting a small group of mainly Kurdish protesters who had gathered in a park.

Speaking at a dinner to break the Ramadan fast in the capital, Ankara, on Thursday, Erdogan said: "They have issued arrest warrants for 12 of my bodyguards".

"What kind of law is this?" "If my bodyguards can not protect me, then why am I bringing them to America with me?" he said during an iftar dinner on Thursday.

He said Kurdish PKK fighters and members of what Turkey calls the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) were united in protest against him at a short distance of 40-50 metres from where he was with his bodyguards.

"Can you imagine what would the attitude be if something similar happens in Turkey?" he said.

Stepping up his challenge to Erdogan, Kilicdaroglu controversially claimed the government knew about the July 15 coup bid but did not prevent it from happening.

Turkey also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

Earlier on Thursday, Turkey's foreign ministry called in John Bass, the United States ambassador to Ankara, for talks over the arrest warrants.

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But the following week the Turkish government summoned the USA ambassador to protest "aggressive behavior" by U.S. security personnel and "security lapses" in the incident.

The Ministry added that "Turkish citizens can not be held responsible for the incident that took place" because "the usual measures" taken "in similar high-level visits" were not taken by the USA authorities while it lamented "the tolerance... towards the so-called protesters... with flags and symbols of a terrorist organization".

Two men were arrested at the time, and the US State Department registered concern to Turkey in the 'strongest possible terms'.

"Seeking solutions on the street is at the very least irresponsible", Yildirim said, adding there could be "provocations".

"I would like to be an optimist and hope that the people responsible for these things we all saw on video will come here and turn themselves in", said Chief Peter Newsham of the Washington police. "We're not going to tolerate this". Additionally, the State Department called Turkey's ambassador to the United States to complain about the security forces violence, and then the Turkish Foreign Ministry returned the meeting by complaining about the way the detained security guards were being treated.

"Why would I bring my guards with me to the United States, if not to protect me?" he said in a speech in Ankara, adding that USA police "did nothing".

Erdogan's security detail returned with him to Turkey after his visit, so it was unclear if any would face any immediate USA legal repercussions. "The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defence and one of them was seriously injured". If any are still in the country, they could be expelled if Turkey refuses to waive diplomatic immunity.

New Jersey contractor Eyup Yildirim - seen in video footage attacking protestors with Erdogan's bodyguards and kicking a woman - was charged with assault with significant bodily injury and aggravated assault. Another woman was thrown to the ground, and a man with a bullhorn was kicked in the face.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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