WASHINGTON (Voice of America)—A demonstrator involved in the last week’s violent clash with guards of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tells VOA a lawsuit will be filed over injuries sustained during the May 16 melee outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington.
Lucy Usoyan, an Armenian-born activist of the Yazidi community of the US, is one of the victims of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail’s brutal attack on the Washington D.C. protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence.
In an interview with Voice of America, Lucy spoke about the incident and the details which followed.
“The demonstration began outside the White House, because we were concerned with Erdogan’s visit, thinking that a man who doesn’t respect democracy isn’t entitled to being hosted in the White House, which is a symbol of democracy. We could safely voice our needs outside the White House and naturally we didn’t make any provocations whatsoever,” she said.
During the demonstration, which was organized by the local Armenian, Kurdish and Yazidi communities, only one insignificant incident occurred, when Erdogan supporters attempted to grab a poster of a Kurdish demonstrator, which was followed by police drawing a separation line between the protesters and supporters. Then, the demonstrators began to walk towards the Turkish Ambassador’s residence, where a group of Erdogan supporters had already gathered.
“The protest was proceeding peacefully, however being in the first line I saw that another group joined the Erdogan supporters’ group. Those people had completely different outfits – khaki shirts, sunglasses, big-muscled trained people with military boots,” Usoyan said.
According to her, these people charged into the protesters and began to beat them. “I suddenly appeared on the ground, not even realizing how it happened. The next thing I remember is how somebody was repeatedly punching me in the head. I was thinking about one thing at that moment – why are they beating me if I’m not even defending myself. Then I blacked out, and when I opened my eyes I realized that I’m on the ground. Aram Hamparian helped me get on my feet, and I saw that many of the demonstrators are injured, bloody – something that shocked me, because I wasn’t ready for this kind of violence,” Usoyan said.
Usoyan suffered a traumatic brain injury from the beating, and will require 6-8 weeks for recovery, however everything could have ended worse if not for the few Washington cops that were at the scene. “They were trying to protect us by a small group. The footage shows how an officer is trying to take me away from the attackers,” Usoyan said.
According to her, the demonstrators did nothing to instigate the Erdogan supporters; they were simply carrying out a peaceful protest.
“Perhaps they aren’t used to criticism, maybe this is the reason, however we live in a democratic time. This is the 21st century and it is necessary to be tolerant, or take into account the reason behind people complaining,” she said.
Like many others, Lucy says the incident is unacceptable. “In our belief, no government, not only Turkish, has the right to come to this country and batter US citizens and remain unpunished,” she said.
Usoyan participated in the demonstration to demand the protection of Yazidi’s rights, as well as the recogniztion of the Armenian Genocide.
“Armenia is the country where I was born and which has become the homeland of numerous Yazidis for more than a century,” she said.
Lucy Usoyan was three years old when she left Armenia with her parents, however she has many relatives in Armenia, one of them being Kyaram Sloyan, the Artsakh soldier who died during the April War in 2016.
“We – all Armenians, must stand up for rights and justice and demand the recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” she said.
American lawmakers swiftly issued bipartisan outcry over the melee, which was followed by repeated expressions of concern by top State Department officials, who summoned Turkey’s ambassador over the incident.
“There is an ongoing investigation,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News Sunday, adding that he will wait on the outcome of that probe before deciding on a more formal response.
Globally, however, Usoyan says the absence of a formal White House response makes the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump look weak.
“In this case, the video went viral around the world,” Usoyan said. “I was talking to my family and relatives last night, and everyone takes this as a (sign of the) weakness of our current government. I do believe President Trump should shed a spotlight to this case and address this issue so it doesn’t spotlight him as weak towards Turkey.”
On Monday, Turkey summoned the U.S. ambassador to Ankara to protest what it called the “aggressive” treatment of Turkish security, calling behavior of Washington Metropolitan police officers who attempted to break up the fight — sometimes with batons — “aggressive and unprofessional.”
The Trump administration has vowed to arm YPG fighters as part of a campaign to take Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold in Raqqa.
Erdogan and Trump are expected to meet again at this week’s NATO summit in Brussels.