WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, 36 Members of Congress sent a bi-partisan letter, spearheaded by Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Representative Dave Trott (R-MI), to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, opposing an anticipated gun sale to Turkey in light of the vicious attack by Turkey’s security detail in our Nation’s Capital against peaceful protesters, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
“Right here, on U.S. soil, we witnessed President Erdogan’s blatant disregard for democracy as his henchmen waged a brutal attack on peaceful protestors. As the very model of freedom and liberty around the world, the United States cannot condone such an overt suppression of democracy and this proposed arms deal would be nothing less than an endorsement of Erdogan’s henchmen’s brutal attack. We need to call out and hold accountable President Erdogan and his bodyguards for who they really are – thugs,” Rep. Trott stated.
Last month, President Erdogan’s bodyguards violently assaulted peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. with President Erdogan just feet away, looking on as armed members of his security detail unleashed a brutal attack, targeting non-violent protesters and American Diplomatic Security Officers, and resulting in serious injuries.
On June 6, the House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 354, condemning the violence that took place outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence on May 16 and calling on the perpetrators to be brought to justice under U.S. law.
“We can no longer enable Turkey to compromise our democratic values, and this proposed arms sale is nothing short of an endorsement of the actions of President Erdogan’s security force. As such, we strongly urge you to reject this proposed sale and any potential weapons transfer to President Erdogan’s security detail,” the Members of Congress stated in the letter.
The State Department notified Congress about a proposed sale of semi-automatic handguns and ammunition to a Turkish government controlled entity authorized to import firearms to the Department of Security of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey.
In questioning earlier this month by Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Administration’s Budget, Secretary Tillerson said whether or not the U.S. will sell weapons to the very same security forces who committed the attack is currently “under evaluation.”
“We commend Congressman Trott and his colleagues for this initiative and standing up for American values in light of such a flagrant disrespect for our cherished rights,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.
The Assembly also urged its members to contact their Representative to join the bipartisan letter urging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to stop the proposed gun sale to Turkey.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.