A large protest at Washington’s Lafayette Park across from the White House is being organized before the Trump-Erdogan meeting on Wednesday by Hellenic, Armenian, Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac-American, Kurdish-American, Arab-American and other human rights groups.
The call for protest accuses Erdogan of a long list of wrongdoings, including destroying democracy, desecrating churches, invading Syria, killing Kurds and denying genocide.
The Order of AHEPA and the Armenian National Committee have invited all members of the public to meet at 12 PM in Lafayette Square to voice opposition to Trump’s meeting with Erdogan, who has drawn international outrage for launching military strikes in Northeastern Syria — uprooting hundreds of thousands of civilians and killing dozens more.
AHEPA President George Horiates said the organization is calling on all chapters nationwide to help defy Erdogan.
“We call upon all AHEPAns to attend a peaceful demonstration to encourage the West to stop turning a blind eye toward Turkey,” Horiates said. “Defend Hellenism now. It is needed more than ever.”
ACTION ALERT-Protesting Erdogan’s Visit, Wendsday, Nov 13, 9 am at Lafayette Square, then onto Sheridan Circle. Defend Hellenism, the time is now. Check https://t.co/HWVlw9x2fj. and join us! https://t.co/HWVlw9x2fjJoin. #Ahepa #DefendHellenism pic.twitter.com/Mq84GwZwNq
— George G. Horiates (@g_horiates) November 8, 2019
The Chicago-based Hellenic American Leadership Council also released an official statement condemning the meeting.
“Turkey is not a friend of the US, and Turkey’s President Erdogan should never have been invited to the White House,” Public Affairs Director Thanos Davelis said. “His regime leads the world in jailing journalists; violates human rights at home and abroad; occupies the northern part of Cyprus; invades Greek airspace; tramples on religious freedom; helps Iran evade sanctions; purchases Russian missiles; attacks US partners and allies; engages in ethnic cleansing in northeast Syria; and continues to deny genocide.”
American Hellenic Institute (AHI) President Nick Larigakis wrote to President Donald J. Trump to convey the Institute’s profound disappointment that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit the White House on November 13, 2019.
“Turkey is not a friend of the United States, let alone an ally. We vehemently opposed your invite to Mr. Erdogan because his authoritarianism must not be rewarded or dignified with a visit to the White House,” Larigakis wrote.
“However, because the meeting it is set to take place, you must therefore deliver a clear, stern message that Turkey will be held accountable for its illegal activities in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean,” the AHI president added.
Larigakis cited the laundry list of examples of how Turkey, under the Erdogan government, has been a consistent violator of the rule of law. As a result, the AHI president insisted that President Trump make it clear that there will be consequences for Turkey’s illegal actions.
Larigakis expressed further disappointment with the State Department’s opposition to two House-passed measures last week, a bill to impose sanctions on Turkey and a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide, because they risk further “straining relations with a key NATO ally.”
Larigakis wrote, “Turkey has never proven to be a faithful NATO ally and the State Department’s rationale for this position is moot and the evidence does not support it.”
Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, attended the 2017 protests and filmed Turkish security personnel physically attacking demonstrators. Hamparian said he is helping to organize the protest.
“There’s a right that has to be protected. That’s the right of Americans to speak freely here in America and not ever feel as though they should be quiet or silenced because of threats and intimidation from a foreign government,” Hamparian declared. “The law enforcement authorities are on notice and the world is watching.”