April 6, 2018 - 10:50 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian, a witness to the May 16th Erdogan-ordered attacks on peaceful protesters in Washington, DC, sharply criticized a Washington DC Superior Court ruling on Thursday, April 5, which gave light sentences to two of the Turkish American attackers.
They had initially been charged with hate crimes and other violations and faced up to 15 years of incarceration.
Eyup Yildirim and Sinan Narin received sentences of one year and one day in prison, with credit for time served; three years of supervised release; and a fine of $100 each.
“This decision should worry every American,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Today's light sentences - on top of the Administration dropping most charges and failing to seek any extraditions of Erdogan's bodyguards - threatens to chill the free exercise of the First Amendment rights of Americans of Armenian or any other heritage to protest the actions of a foreign government.”
“As Americans, it's our right to raise our voices on any issue - foreign or domestic - free from fear of violent attack, and confident that those who violate our rights will be brought to justice. Sadly, that has not been the case in response to Erdogan's open export of his regime's violence to the streets of Washington, DC. This backwards "Turkey First" approach defends foreign attackers instead of protecting American freedoms,” concluded Hamparian.
Hamparian and representatives of the ANCA and the Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights (ALC) were on hand at District of Columbia Superior Court when Judge Marisa Demeo announced the ruling for Yildirim and Narin, two of the 19 perpetrators indicted for the brutal beatings, which included 15 members of Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail, and two Canadians, who have reportedly since repatriated to Turkey. All 19 defendants were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, with a bias crime enhancement – charges of hate crimes – which carry a maximum 15 years prison sentence. The court decision overlooked hate-crimes component of the charges, which have been reduced to one charge of assault.
“The case against Sinan Narin and Eyup Yildirim is not just about a violent assault, which on its own should merit severe punishment, but it is a case closely associated with a coordinated assault by foreign government security forces on the bodies of our citizens and on our foundational principles of free assembly and speech,” stated ALC Executive Director Kate Nahapetian. “The world is watching. But more importantly, the people of America are watching, the police who had to risk their lives protecting women and children from Narin and Yildirim and unhinged armed foreign security personnel are watching, the protesters who were severely bloodied, beaten and suffered lasting physical injuries and emotional trauma are watching, and Armenian Americans who will be protesting Turkey’s state-sponsored denial of the Armenian Genocide in just a few weeks on April 24, are watching to see, if they will be safe in DC.”