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Erdoğan’s bodyguards: Thugs with impunity attack protesters at home and abroad

Several instances have shown how Erdoğan’s bodyguards acquire issues into their individual hands in punishing critics and opponents.

By Abdullah Bozkurt, Middle East Forum

Turkish taxpayers experienced to foot a 251 million Turkish lira bill for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s protective depth in January, marking a staggering maximize of 151 % when compared to the exact same month final year, which was recorded at 100 million lira.

The substantial invoice corresponds to the blended regular minimum amount wages for nearly 15,000 employees in Turkey, exactly where quite a few families are struggling to make finishes meet amid worsening financial situations.

Some of Erdoğan’s ever-growing team of bodyguards, notorious for beating civilians in the course of the president’s visits at property and overseas, have faced prison prices in the past for their perform in overseas nations.

They have even been the topic of arrest warrants in the US when making the most of comprehensive impunity in Turkey, where by the rule of legislation has been suspended and basic legal rights and freedoms seriously limited.

Erdoğan, a repressive ruler who has ruled Turkey for the previous 22 several years, more and more depends on his possess protective element and has turn out to be a lot more wary of his personal folks.

By some accounts, he has produced a dread of assassination. Thanks to his all-encompassing distrust, his bodyguards make certain that no member of the navy, law enforcement or other security establishment carries a loaded weapon in the course of Erdoğan’s visits all around the region.

To secure the total and ongoing allegiance of his bodyguards, Erdoğan guarantees that they reside comfortably and acquire far more fiscal payment than other folks.

Knowledge received by Nordic Keep track of from Turkish police records demonstrate that the govt spent 1.1 billion lira in 2023 to defend Erdoğan, an all-time higher.

A quarter of that was put in in January 2024, in accordance to official figures, indicating that a new report will probably be established by the close of the calendar year.

The determine does not include things like other community expenses to guidance Erdoğan’s protecting depth, these types of as solution discretionary funding and contributions from military resources and community companies mobilized to provide logistical products and services for his defense.

The precise amount of members of Erdoğan’s protecting element is unfamiliar, and the government has not been forthcoming with the figures when requested by parliament, which decides on funding governing administration expenses, together with the salaries of Erdoğan’s bodyguards.

On the other hand, it is believed to be in the hundreds, if not the hundreds. By one excessive, unconfirmed account, he has some 5,000 persons in his protecting element.

Erdoğan does not vacation without the need of getting accompanied by an military of bodyguards and a mammoth fleet of autos. He even usually takes his have armored autos overseas, employing Turkish armed service cargo planes when he visits international international locations.

In the previous, he has skipped international visits basically because of restrictions imposed by host international locations on the selection of bodyguards he was permitted to carry.

The core group inside of Erdoğan’s bodyguard group is composed of dedicated Islamists who offer near safety for the president. Some of them have been with Erdoğan considering that his years as mayor of Istanbul.

They are willing to choose matters to the excessive, break guidelines and present little regard for guidelines in Turkey and overseas. Ali Erdoğan, the president’s nephew, is one of the leaders of the group, which has grow to be notorious for escalating issues on his uncle’s behalf. The whole workforce has been led by Muhsin Köse due to the fact 2012.

There have been a lot of cases that showed how Erdoğan’s bodyguards get issues into their individual palms in punishing critics and opponents of their boss in the course of travel in Turkey and overseas.

The conduct shown by Erdoğan’s bodyguards has designed issues abroad. For instance, Erdoğan’s 15 bodyguards were being indicted and had been the topics of arrest warrants in the US for attacking protesters outdoors the Turkish ambassador’s home in May possibly 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Close to 20 demonstrators protesting the insurance policies of President Erdoğan, who was going to Washington for a White Residence conference with then-US president Donald Trump on Might 16, 2017, were being confronted by agitated Erdoğan supporters and subsequently attacked by the Turkish president’s bodyguards near Sheridan Circle, across from the Turkish ambassador’s residence.

A movie clip from the scene confirmed Erdoğan seemingly giving the order for his security detail to attack the protesters and looking at it unfold.

The movie displays that the pro-Erdoğan team, such as Turkish safety drive users, rushed forward and broke via the law enforcement line, which experienced been separating the two groups. None of the protesters superior to meet up with the attackers. Some of the protesters quickly fell to the floor, with Erdoğan’s civilian supporters and bodyguards continuing to strike and kick them.

Other protesters tried to flee from the attackers and operate away from the residence. Nevertheless, Erdoğan’s civilian supporters and Turkish safety forces chased the protesters and violently attacked several of them.

On the similar day, two hours following the attack on the protestors, Erdoğan’s bodyguards engaged in however a further assault on a one protestor, Lacy MacAuley, who was holding an anti-Erdoğan banner powering the law enforcement line in entrance of the Turkish Embassy.

While she was standing there and chanting slogans, a team from Erdoğan’s protective detail emerged from a van and surrounded MacAuley. One of the bodyguards put her hand around MacAuley’s mouth, one more aggressively grabbed her wrist and one more snatched her sign, crumpled it and threw it to the floor. In the long run, regional legislation enforcement officers intervened to conclusion the altercation.

Victims in equally scenarios launched a civil match against Turkey in the US District Courtroom for the District of Columbia the cases are even now pending. Turkey tried to quit the lawsuits by invoking the sovereign immunity clause but failed.

In June 2017, after investigations by the US Office of State, the US Secret Provider and the Metropolitan Law enforcement Department, 15 bodyguards — Ahmet Karabay, Feride Kayasan, Gokhan Yildirim, Hamza Yurteri, Harritten Eren, Ismail Dalkiran, Ismail Ergunduz, Lutfu Kutluca, Mamet Samman, Muhsin Kose, Mustafa Sumercan, Server Erken, Tugay Erken, Turgut Akar and Yusuf Aya — ended up indicted by a grand jury.

Nevertheless, a calendar year later, US authorities dropped the charges versus 11 of the 15 bodyguards, citing a absence of robust proof that would pass scrutiny in a US courtroom. Two Turkish nationals, Eyüp Yıldırım of Manchester, New Jersey, and Sinan Narin of McLean, Virginia, who have been concerned in the altercation, pleaded responsible to assault and ended up sentenced to a yr and a day in prison in April 2018.

President Erdoğan defended his bodyguards and stated, “They didn’t do anything [to the protesters]. In addition to that, yesterday they detained two of our brothers who intervened. … They issued arrest warrants for 12 of my security officers. What form of regulation is this? What kind of authorized procedure is this?”

He even sent then-foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to go to to the two convicted Turks — Yıldırım and Narin — in prison to show his government’s solidarity with the attackers.

The altercation was not the initial time that Erdoğan’s bodyguards had stirred up violence in the US capital. Associates of Erdoğan’s security crew experienced a operate-in with demonstrators a yr previously exterior the Brookings Institution, the place Erdoğan was offering a speech.

Brookings wrote on its web-site that Erdoğan’s bodyguards had “behaved unacceptably — they roughed up protesters outside the making and tried to drag away ‘undesired’ journalists, an tactic regular of the Russians or the Chinese.”

Comparable extreme use of drive was also shown for the duration of Erdoğan’s visits to New York to show up at UN meetings. In 2011, when Erdoğan visited the metropolis to participate in the UN Standard Assembly, his bodyguards quarreled with UN safety staff. At minimum a single UN security officer’s accidents necessary crisis healthcare therapy.

In September 2014 Adem Yavuz Arslan, a US-based mostly Turkish journalist, was kicked by Erdoğan’s bodyguards when he was masking a meeting in between Erdoğan and then US vice president Joe Biden at the Peninsula Hotel in New York Metropolis on the sidelines of the UN Normal Assembly.

Erdoğan’s nephew Ali, 1 of his bodyguards, swore at the journalist who was waiting together with colleagues in the resort foyer, and compelled him out of the resort. Later, two other bodyguards approached him on the avenue and kicked him. “They explained to me to go with them and threatened me, saying, ‘You do not have the right to dwell,’” Yavuz recalled.

Erdoğan’s bodyguards tried to assault one more US-based mostly Turkish journalist, Ali Aslan, who was also with the team of journalists in the similar venue. He was rescued from the wrath of Erdoğan’s bodyguards by nearby police officers, who took him to security.

Just after the violent scuffles in the US, Germany warned Turkey not to send the bodyguards who were implicated in the incidents in the course of Erdoğan’s US pay a visit to to show up at the G20 summit in Hamburg in July 2017.

Germany’s foreign ministry spokesman, Martin Schaefer, said: “I have cause to assume that these individuals, who have been incriminated by the American felony justice (technique), will not phase onto German soil in the foreseeable long run, like throughout the G20 summit.”

German police also released a new measure that would prohibit Erdoğan’s very own stability personnel to safety within the lodge only and would permit them to “in no way meddle in the safety all over the lodge.”

On Oct 4, 2015 Erdoğan’s guards acquired into a fight with Belgian law enforcement at Brussels’s Position Stéphanie in a dispute about who was dependable for the Turkish president’s stability as 3,000 individuals welcomed Erdoğan in close proximity to his lodge.

A next combat broke out the upcoming day at Val Duchesse Chateau in Brussels when the two sides clashed more than who was liable for checking the rooms Erdoğan would pay a visit to.

Punches were thrown, and a single of the Turkish bodyguards elbowed a member of the Belgian VIP safety provider ahead of the Turk was introduced to the floor and relaxed was restored. In accordance to local media, the incidents stemmed from a absence of respect shown by the Turkish bodyguards.

On February 4, 2016 Erdoğan’s bodyguards attacked Kurdish protesters and those people who supported them through an official two-working day take a look at to Ecuador. At the protest, a single of Erdoğan’s bodyguards broke the nose of Ecuadorean member of parliament Diego Vintimilla.

A few female protesters had been thrown out of the Nationwide Higher Research Institute developing, where by Erdoğan was about to speak. The incident prompted Ecuadorian authorities to rebuke the Turkish delegation, with President Rafael Correa denouncing the incident as unacceptable.

Deputy International Affairs Minister Fernando Yepez summoned the Turkish ambassador in Quito, urging him to explain the violence, although Interior Minister Jose Serrano stated law enforcement experienced asked for that the bodyguards concerned in the incident surrender their passports. However, Erdoğan and his bodyguards experienced presently left the region prior to the police could just take motion.

In July 2018 safety staff from the Turkish Embassy in Pretoria pounced on users of the Turkey Solidarity Network (TSN) in South Africa who had been protesting the Turkish government’s human rights abuses in advance of Erdoğan’s take a look at to the mission.

“We were being pretty peaceful, yet firmly picketing about Erdoğan’s dictatorial rule. Suddenly, protection personnel emerged from the embassy and attacked us. I was kicked in the facial area, and I’m bleeding proper now as you can see,” reported Majesty Mnyandu, interim chairperson of TSN, to local media. President Erdoğan was checking out Johannesburg to attend the tenth summit of BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

In an additional come upon in July 2019, the safety staff of Erdoğan, who was on a two-working day go to to Bosnia and Herzegovina, experienced an altercation with the community police in Sarajevo after Erdoğan’s bodyguards refused to hand more than their weapons on arrival at the airport and clashed with the area police. “They ended up aggressive and behaved as if they were being in their have country,” main of Bosnian border police Zoran Galic said. “They did not regard our guidelines and deserved to be arrested.”

Erdoğan’s bodyguards have been acting with total impunity in Turkey, unlawfully detaining and beating his critics and opponents with overall disregard for the rule of regulation. There have been dozens of these types of instances claimed during the yrs throughout Turkey, and not a one bodyguard has been held to account for too much use of power or brutality.

In one uncommon scenario a Turkish gentleman who received brutal treatment method from Erdoğan’s bodyguards managed to get some justice from the legal rights courtroom in Strasbourg right after his efforts in Turkey experienced failed.

Necati Yılmaz, a Turkish citizen who was beaten by Erdoğan’s bodyguards in April 2007 in Turkey’s Trabzon province immediately after his community criticism of Erdoğan, submitted a grievance with the European Court docket of Human Rights on violation of his basic rights.

The European court ruled in 2013 against Turkey and observed that Erdoğan’s bodyguards experienced violated Short article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits torture and degrading, inhuman treatment method.

In just one infamous scenario, it was Erdoğan himself who utilised violence from a protester. As the prime minister in May perhaps 2014, he was viewing the town of Soma in the aftermath of the loss of life of 301 miners in just one of the worst industrial disasters in the country’s historical past.

Erdoğan’s offensive rhetoric focused persons mourning the dying of the Soma miners when he reported demise is “part of the mining business” throughout a condolence speech.

That prompted protests, and some even booed him. Unsettled, Erdoğan turned and informed 1 protestor, “If you insult the key minister, you will get slapped.” He then chased some protestors into a retailer and personally punched a younger male named Taner Kuruca inside of a sector. His bodyguards started out beating Kuruca following Erdoğan’s initially punch.

The movie recorded on a cell mobile phone revealed Erdoğan screaming at protestors and indicating to Kuruca, “Why are you running absent from me, Israeli sperm,” making use of a vile antisemitic phrase in Turkish.

Seemingly distressed more than the incident, Kuruca experienced to adjust his statement 3 moments below duress. Nonetheless, the video footage plainly confirmed Erdoğan punching him in the experience.

In March 2014 a Turkish countrywide named Caner Oruç protested Erdoğan though the president’s convoy was driving by way of the Silivri district of Istanbul. Outraged, Erdoğan pointed the man out to his bodyguards from the bus he was touring in.

Seven bodyguards grabbed Oruç and forcibly took him into an apartment making in the place the place he was seriously crushed. Oruç was hospitalized and placed underneath observation in the medical center next a brain tomography.

In April 2019 Sertuğ Sürenoğlu, a lawyer, was beaten up by President Erdoğan’s protection element in Istanbul immediately after complaining that the presidential motorcade was holding up traffic.

He claimed Erdoğan’s bodyguards place him in a motor vehicle, wherever he was overwhelmed for two several hours. He was pressured to indicator a assertion declaring he had insulted Erdoğan prior to staying handed over to the law enforcement for official detention. Sürenoğlu was later on unveiled but place below residence arrest by an Istanbul courtroom.

In Erdoğan’s repressive regime, his bodyguards typically act a lot more like thugs with no regard for the law, and they look to be rewarded for this kind of actions with more revenue in their pockets when taking pleasure in total immunity from any criminal prosecution.

bodyguardsPresident ErdoğanTurkeyviolence