A 26-year-old student claims that a bodyguard of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan choked her and threatened her life in what has been described by Washington’s police chief as a “brutal attack” on peaceful protesters.
Ceres Borazan, a Kurd from Turkey who came to the United States in 2013, had travelled to Washington from New Jersey to protest Mr Erdogan’s visit to the US when she was caught up in a brawl with Turkish security detail that injured at least 12 people, including a police officer.
“They attacked women, children and the elderly with reckless abandon,” Ms Borazan wrote in a Facebook post. “I ran in the opposite direction from our friends and got caught by one of the security guards. He put me in a headlock to the point where he popped a blood vessel in my eye.”
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After he threatened to kill her, Ms Borazan was able to get free and was let into a nearby car.
“I swear that man saved my life,” she wrote of the motorist.
That attack has been condemned by the US State Department and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, who wrote a letter urging the secretary of State and US attorney general to hold the attackers accountable.
— Ceren Borazan (@CerenBorazan)May 17, 2017
“Numerous news reports indicate these individuals were members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail who accompanied him on his official state visit this week,” Mr Royce wrote. “Alarmingly, this behaviour is indicative of the broad crackdowns on political activists, journalists and religious freedom in Turkey that have greatly harmed Turkish democracy in recent years.”
Ms Borazan wrote that her experience proved that those concerns present a real threat for her and other Kurds.
“Today’s experience has shown us that as Kurds we are not even safe from Turkey’s racism and terrorism here in the United States,” she wrote. “However that will never stop our spirit and struggle for freedom for our people here and in Kurdistan.”