The US Supreme Court on October 31 rejected Turkey’s bid to shut down lawsuits in U.S. courts stemming from the violent attack against peaceful protestors at a demonstration in Washington more than five years ago that left the protesters badly beaten.
According to the Associated Press, the Supreme Court’s action allows the lawsuits to proceed. In the lawsuits, protesters claim they were brutally punched and kicked, cursed at and greeted with slurs and throat-slashing gestures. One woman slipped in and out of consciousness and has suffered seizures, and others reported post-traumatic stress, depression, concussions and nightmares, according to the complaints.
“We’re witnessing, at long last, the ending of the immunity that Turkey has long enjoyed in Washington – the free pass it has been granted by our State Department to abuse its own citizens, attack its neighbors, deny its crimes, and even assault Americans here on U.S. soil,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Today’s court decision holds profound legal meaning – for the perpetrators and victims of the Sheridan Circle attack – while also, in a broader sense, marking powerful progress in holding Turkey to account for its violence and aggression.”
Meanwhile, in its high court filing, the US Justice Department stated that Turkey can be sued in these circumstances, concluding that lower courts were correct in finding that Turkey does not have legal immunity.
On May 16, 2017, a group of peaceful demonstrators protesting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s official visit to the United States, were attacked by pro-Erdogan groups—including members of Erdogan’s security team—at the Sheridan Circle near the residence of the Turkish Ambassador to the U.S.
The demonstration, which began at Lafayette Square at noon, was organized by a coalition of organizations, including the ANCA and the American Hellenic Council. Several different groups, which included representatives from the Armenian, Greek, Kurdish, Yezidi, and Assyrian communities, participated in the protest, while President Erdogan met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House.