Washington, DC-based allies of Turkish President Erdogan are doubling down on his May, 2017, attack at Sheridan Circle, attempting, once again, to prevent Americans from exercising their Constitutional right to freedom of expression.
The Turkish American Steering Committee (TASC) is gaming America’s First Amendment, not to express its own views, but rather to obstruct the free expression of U.S. citizens set to gather this April 24 in Washington, DC’s Sheridan Circle to protest Ankara’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.
TASC has a track record of using loud dance music, songs, shouting, and even air-horns to drown out speakers at annual April 24 demonstrations. This year they have, for the first time, secured the approval of the U.S. National Park Service to engage in their disruptive activities from an area adjacent to the Armenian Genocide protest, within the actual confines of Sheridan Circle. This traffic circle, across the street from the Turkish Ambassador’s residence, is infamous internationally as the site where, less than two years ago, Turkish President Erdogan’s bodyguards brutally beat peaceful American protesters. TASC Co-Chairman Gunay Evinch is among the lawyers hired by the Turkish Government to defend it in a lawsuit brought by victims of this attack.
The organizer of the Armenian Genocide protest – the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Ani Chapter – was joined by the Armenian National Committee of America in arguing vigorously against the Park Service granting a permit for a counter-protest at Sheridan Circle, on Constitutional and public safety grounds. Over these strenuous objections, the Park Service has permitted TASC to occupy roughly a third of Sheridan Circle.
Armenians commemorate the mass killings on April 24 because on that date in 1915 a group of Armenian intellectuals was rounded up and assassinated in Constantinople by the Ottoman government. On April 24, Armenians worldwide will be commemorating the 104th anniversary of the Genocide which continued until 1923. Some three dozen countries, hundreds of local government bodies and international organizations have so far recognized the killings of 1.5 million Armenians as Genocide. Turkey denies to this day.