WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives on Friday passed the National Defense Authorization Act, with an amendment banning the sale of semi-automatic handguns and ammunition to the Turkish government, introduced by Michigan Republican Dave Trott.
“I am proud my colleagues from both sides of the aisle have come together to declare Turkey will no longer compromise our democratic values,” said Trott after the passage of the NDAA.
The Trott Amendment opposes the $1.2 million sale of U.S. semi-automatic handguns to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail, in response to their May 16th attack on peaceful protesters in Washington, DC.
“Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed our NATO allies take extraordinary steps against Turkey, and it’s time for the State Department to do the same. We need to block this arms sale and once and for all point a finger in Erdogan’s chest and tell him that a strategic location does not place Turkey above the law,” said Trott.
“Just two months ago, Erdogan’s henchmen, with him complacently observing just feet away, launched a brutal attack on peaceful protestors exercising their first amendment rights. A notorious oppressor of basic human rights and freedom, Erdogan imported his callous attitudes to our nation’s capital. While Erdogan’s thugs may run unchecked in Ankara, this is the United States of America and this is totally unacceptable,” added Trott.
“The U.S. Congress took an important step toward Turkey sanctions today by adopting the Trott Amendment, officially putting the U.S. House on record, in a defense authorization measure, against a proposed sale of semi-automatic handguns to the very same Turkish presidential security detail that attacked American protesters in Washington, DC in May of this year,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “The era of American officials overselling Ankara is clearly coming to a close.”
The ANCA’s Hamparian captured live videotape at the scene of the May 16th attack, which took place in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence, where President Erdogan was scheduled to have a closed-door meeting with representatives of The Atlantic Council, a think tank in Washington, DC which receives Turkish funding. Hamparian’s video served as source footage for CNN, AP and other news outlets, transforming a violent incident into a global spotlight on Turkey’s violence, intolerance, and aggression.
Hamparian testified before a May 25th Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on this matter. Joining him at the hearing were Ms. Lusik Usoyan, Founder and President of the Ezidi Relief Fund; Mr. Murat Yusa, a local businessman and protest organizer; and Ms. Ruth Wedgwood, Edward B. Burling Professor of International Law and Diplomacy, at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Usoyan and Yusa were victims of the brutal assault on May 16th by President Erdogan’s bodyguards.
On June 6th, with a vote of 397 to 0, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously condemned Turkey’s attack, 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), has received the public backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). A companion measure has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA).
The House 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.
On June 16th, US law enforcement issued 18 arrest warrants – including a dozen against Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s bodyguards – in connection to the May 16th attacks. Two Turkish-Americans have already been arrested for assault, and two Turkish Canadians have also been charged. During a June 15th press conference, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Peter Newsham detailed the exhaustive investigation carried out by the Metropolitan Police Department and other law enforcement agencies leading to the arrest warrants.
Mayor Bowser condemned the attacks, calling them an “affront to our values as Washingtonians and as Americans and it was a clear assault on the first amendment.”
Chief Newsham explained, “We have dignitaries that are in and out of this city on a daily basis. Rarely have I seen, in my almost 28 years of policing, the type of thing that I saw on Sheridan Circle on that particular day. You had peaceful demonstrators that were physically assaulted and the message to folks who are going to come to our city either from another state or from another country is that’s not going to be tolerated in Washington, DC.”