Monday, May 19, 2014

Turkey - Soma - Unprovoked Use of Violence on Demonstrations

Daily Press Briefing Index
Monday, May 19, 2014
1:45 p.m. EDT
Briefer: Jen Psaki, Spokesperson


MS. PSAKI:  Go ahead, Turkey.

QUESTION:  It has been six days that the mining blast happened, you issued statement.  You also stated that United States is ready to assist if there is a need.  Have you been asked for any help?

MS. PSAKI:  We have not.  To our knowledge, the Government of Turkey has not requested international assistance at this point.  We stand ready to provide assistance to Turkey should it be requested.  As we noted in our statement, we of course – and let me reiterate our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives in the tragic mining accident last week.

QUESTION:  There have been protests going on in various cities in Turkey, including Soma, where this mining accident happened.  And they all were confronted by the police force.  Do you have any comment on these events are going on for few days now?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, we are following, of course, the reports of protests in the wake of this terrible tragedy.  We support, as you know, freedom of expression and assembly, including the right to peaceful protest, as fundamental to any democracy.  So we will continue to watch that, but those are our views.

QUESTION:  I have one more.

MS. PSAKI:  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  The prime minister went to visit Soma a few days ago, and there were a couple of videos surfaced that went viral.  One of them apparently – or I’d like to get your take on that.  He was – he appeared to be slapping a citizen in Soma.  Did you see that?  If you saw that, what is your take on that?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, we saw the range of videos that have been out there.  Of course, we reject the apparent use of unprovoked violence against demonstrators and urge accountability according to Turkey’s rule of law.

QUESTION:  And the last question:  There was another video.  It was very much clear that our Prime Minister Erdogan heard saying if you boo or protest a leader of a country, you deserve a slap.  This was pretty clear.  Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI:  We’ve seen the reports of them.  I don’t have the specific language.  Obviously, if there were offensive comments made, we’d of course condemn those.  But I think there’s some confusion on that front.

Go ahead.

QUESTION:  This goes to the allegedly anti-Semitic comments that he made?

MS. PSAKI:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  That’s what you’re talking about?

MS. PSAKI:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  You don’t know that he actually said them?  Is that what you’re saying?

MS. PSAKI:  No.  We’ve seen them.  If that is the actual language that was used, we’d of course condemn that language, but I believe there’s some confusion over the --

QUESTION:  All right.  And I just wanted to – do you have a – broader thoughts on the Turkish response?  Is it – the Turkish response, particularly to the protests? 

MS. PSAKI:  Well, it’s --

QUESTION:  Is it --

MS. PSAKI:  To the protests, I think I made clear that we reject the apparent use of unprovoked violence against demonstrators and protesters and urged accountability according to Turkey’s rule of law.

QUESTION:  Okay.  So you think that they overreacted?  Is that --

MS. PSAKI:  There were some incidents, certainly, we are concerned about.

QUESTION:  When you say unprovoked force, you also – I know you talk about the police force respond, but you also mention or signal about the prime minister’s apparent slap to the citizen or --

MS. PSAKI:  The – I’m sorry.  I couldn’t – say that one more time?

QUESTION:  The question was:  When you say unprovoked force, you also talk about prime minister apparent slap to the citizen?

MS. PSAKI:  To the citizen?

QUESTION:  Yeah.  One of the citizens in Soma.

QUESTION:  He’s asking if, when you say – you don’t like unprovoked violence, if that includes what the prime minister did to this protester.  I think that’s what he’s asking.

MS. PSAKI:  I think we’re referring to a range of videos that have been out. 


MS. PSAKI:  I don’t think I have to get more specific.  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  Did you ask Ankara about these anti-Semitic slurs?

MS. PSAKI:  Reports?

QUESTION:  Yeah, reports.  Or --

MS. PSAKI:  Again, we’re in close touch.  I’m not aware of a conversation about that, but --

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