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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

Norton Calls on Tillerson to Expel and Bar Reentry of Turkish Officials Involved in Violent Attacks on Peaceful Protestors in D.C.

May 18, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released her letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to take immediate action to hold accountable Turkish officials who viciously attacked peaceful protestors gathered outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in the District of Columbia earlier this week.  Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham has confirmed the attacks against the protestors were unprovoked.  Norton said the violent assaults “were also an assault on basic American values and the First Amendment protections for free speech and peaceful assembly,” and were particularly an affront to the District of Columbia, where freedom to protest is paramount.

In her letter, Norton wrote, “I urge you to bar any Turkish official who committed, encouraged, facilitated or otherwise participated in the assaults from reentering the United States if they have already left the country and to expel any that remain in the country.  I also write to request information on whether the Turkish officials connected to the assaults are entitled to diplomatic immunity, and, if any is, what level of immunity.”

Norton requested a response within 30 days.

Norton’s full letter is below.

The Honorable Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary 
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Tillerson:

I was deeply disturbed by the vicious assaults on what appeared to be peaceful protestors outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in the District of Columbia on May 16, 2017.  According to press reports, the perpetrators of the violence were plainclothes bodyguards for the Turkish president.  The assaults on the protestors were also an assault on basic American values and the First Amendment protections for free speech and peaceful assembly.

I urge you to bar any Turkish official who committed, encouraged, facilitated or otherwise participated in the assaults from reentering the United States if they have already left the country and to expel any that remain in the country.  I also write to request information on whether the Turkish officials connected to the assaults are entitled to diplomatic immunity, and, if any is, what level of immunity.  As you know, not all foreign government officials are entitled to immunity from criminal and/or civil liability, and even if an official is entitled to immunity, there are various levels of immunity based on the functions performed by the official.  I also urge you to follow traditional State Department practice and request a waiver from Turkey of immunity for those connected to the assaults if a prosecutor would otherwise prosecute. 

I request a written response within 30 days of the date of this letter.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton

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