WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Dave Trott (MI-11), Co-Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, issued the following statement after leading a bipartisan letter of 36 Members of Congress, including Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone, Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Eliot Engel, and Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff, to Secretary of State Tillerson urging him to reject the proposed sale of semi-automatic handguns and ammunition to the Turkish government:
“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.”
On June 6, 2017, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.Res.354, condemning Turkish President Erdogan’s bodyguards’ attack on peaceful protestors and demanding the perpetrators be held accountable. With over 17,000 Armenian-Americans in Michigan, Rep. Trott serves as Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus. Rep. Trott’s resolution to recognize the Armenian Genocide (H.Res. 220) has garnered strong bipartisan support with 45 co-sponsors, including the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Since coming to Congress, Rep. Trott has led the fight to recognize the Armenian genocide joining a Congressional delegation to visit Armenia for the 100th anniversary of the genocide and co-sponsoring a resolution to recognize the Armenian Genocide in the 114th Congress. Historians believe as many as 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks starting in 1915, yet international governments – including the United States – have refused to label the killings as a genocide.
Full text of the letter is as follows:
Dear Mr. Secretary
We write today to urge you to reject the 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.
As you know, on May 16, members of President Erdogan’s security detail violently attacked peaceful protestors outside the residence of the Turkish Ambassador in Washington, DC. With President Erdogan just feet away, looking on, armed members of his security detail unleashed a vicious attack, targeting non-violent protestors and American Diplomatic Security Officers, resulting in severe neurological, oral, and maxillofacial injuries. Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a series of disturbing attacks by President Erdogan’s security forces in the United States, including a brawl at the United Nations, and a series of physical fights in Washington, DC in May 2016. This same security force now stands to be the beneficiary of a potential arms deal.
On June 6, 2017, the House of Representatives spoke strongly and swiftly, voting unanimously to pass House Resolution 354, condemning the violence that took place outside the 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.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.