Ecuador complains to Turkish embassy about treatment of protesters at Quito event

Feb 8, 2016 | 4 comments

Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry has conveyed its “unease” over the use of force against its citizens by guards of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a demonstration in the capital of Quito, Turkish officials have confirmed.

Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

The incident took place Friday as a group of female demonstrators protested Turkey’s ongoing military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as Erdoğan was speaking at the National Higher Studies Institute in Quito.

The women say they were kicked and beaten after they were removed from the auditorium. In a press conference on Saturday, they showed evidence of the beatings.

Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino personally phoned Turkish Ambassador to Quito Korkut Güngen later on Feb. 5, while Deputy Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Fernando Yepez summoned Güngen to the ministry headquarters on the same day, the Turkish officials said.

Ecuador revoked the diplomatic status of the Turkish guards as a result of the incident. The same officials, however, underlined, that no “diplomatic note of protest” was presented to Güngen.

A senior Turkish official, speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News on Feb. 7, was defiant as he argued that Ecuadorian officials’ failure to take sufficient measures was the core reason behind the attack by Turkish guards, which he claimed constituted “responsible behavior.”

“The Ecuadorian officials should have acted more carefully,” the official said. “There was vulnerability because of the lack of sufficient measures by the Ecuadorian authorities. Our security officers have acted in a responsible manner. They intervened because they perceived a threat,” said the official, speaking under customary condition of anonymity.”

The official continued: “We are of course respectful of the freedom of expression and assembly, but those demonstrators should not have been able to approach our President so closely, within just a few meters. Would any demonstrator in any country have been able to approach either Ms. [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel or Mr. [U.S. President Barack] Obama that close? It is natural for the security officers to consider this as a threat. If a similar incident had taken place during a visit by Mr. Obama, guards would have perhaps shot the demonstrators,” the official said.

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