It’s not uncommon in Turkey to see the members of the press being beaten, tear-gassed or arrested.
In fact, lately under the leadership of President Tayyip Erdogan, violent tactics to suppress free speech have become the norm.
That’s probably why when journalists in Washington, D.C., gathered outside the Brookings Institute on Thursday to protest Erdogan’s visit, his security guards thought it was OK to rough them up.
The notorious Turkish leader is in the United States for the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, being attended by leaders of more than 50 nations in the U.S. capital. He was delivering a speech at the American think-tank when several journalists started demonstrating outside, calling out Erdogan’s assault on free speech at home.
Soon, the scene turned violent as Erdogan’s security detail exchanged harsh words, in some cases abuse, with the protesters and tried to physically assault them:
Turkish guards just literally chased a protester across the street #brookingsinsanity— Yochi Dreazen (@yochidreazen) March 31, 2016
Never seen anything like this:a female protester just tackled. DC cops are in the street trying to keep Turkish guards from hurting folks— Yochi Dreazen (@yochidreazen) March 31, 2016
Here’s a video from inside Brookings' building:
Things were so bad that Brookings’ staff had to escort journalists inside and outside of the building. One reporter was even asked to leave by Turkish security:
Here: Turkish security tries to kick a journalist out. Brookings security protects the journalist. Moments ago pic.twitter.com/k0mATo3fh8— ilhan tanir (@WashingtonPoint) March 31, 2016
It was only after the Turkish embassy intervened that the manhandling stopped.
The incident comes almost a month after similar scenes were witnessed in Turkey when the Turkish police dressed in riot gear seized the headquarters of Turkey's highest-circulation newspaper, Today’s Zaman, a move that was billed the biggest blow to freedom of press in the country in recent years.
In less than 48 hours, the new admin turned seized Zaman into a propaganda piece of the regime in Turkey. pic.twitter.com/ORAAo0r7Ws— Sevgi Akarcesme (@SevgiAkarcesme) March 6, 2016
As local reporters and their supporters protested the takeover, they were beaten and tear-gassed:
Police fire tear gas, water cannons while raiding Turkey's Zaman newspaper https://t.co/uROMZoJGKE— Yadigar E?ter (@yadigarej) March 9, 2016
Last week, Turkey summoned the German ambassador, demanding the deletion of a German satirical video that mocked Erdogan’s tyrannical rule.
It’s time the Turkish government realized not every country condones silencing a free, robust press. What does Erdogan have to hide?