US & Canada

Erdogan protesters beaten and ejected from New York speech

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Media captionAnti-Erdogan demonstrators are punched as they are removed from a New York hotel

Violence erupted at a New York hotel after protesters heckled a speech by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with chants of "terrorist".

Mr Erdogan was addressing supporters in Turkish at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square when he was interrupted by several demonstrators.

"You're a terrorist, get out of my country," one protester shouted before he was punched and dragged away.

Mr Erdogan is in New York for the UN General Assembly.

Image copyright VOA

In footage from the speech on Thursday, protesters are seen being pushed and punched in the head as they are ejected from the venue by suited men.

It is not clear at this stage if they were pro-Erdogan attendees, presidential bodyguards, or guards providing security at the hotel.

The demonstrators, who later posted images of the clashes on social media, said their aim was to publicly condemn the president's policies in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Some protesters carried flags and banners in support of the Kurdish militant group, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Mr Erdogan sees the YPG as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades. He has repeatedly said that he will never accept a US alliance with Kurdish forces fighting in Syria.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Erdogan is in New York for the UN General Assembly

Supporters of Mr Erdogan can be heard shouting the president's name in the footage, in attempts to muffle the protesters' chants.

One protester, Meghan Bodette, wrote on Twitter that she had been "thrown out" of the hotel.

"Yes. I stood up with YPJ flag... was pulled from chair and removed," she wrote, adding: "I got escorted out and ran, some friends were briefly questioned."

The YPJ is an all-female Kurdish military group - the women's equivalent of the YPG.

Another Twitter user, Gissur Simonarson‏, posted images taken from amateur video footage showing a number of protesters being violently attacked.

One eyewitness, Halil Demir, said he saw a man being pushed to the ground after interrupting Mr Erdogan's speech. Mr Demir said he later saw a second man outside the hotel in handcuffs on the floor, the New York Times reports.

Mr Erdogan was speaking at the invitation of the Turkish American National Steering Committee.

The New York Police Department said that about five protesters had been "briefly detained" but that no arrests were made.

In May, eleven people were injured and two arrested outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington DC, after a brawl broke out between supporters and opponents of Mr Erdogan.

The US summoned the Turkish ambassador over the incident, which Washington police called a "brutal attack on peaceful protesters".

The Turkish embassy denied that, saying the demonstrators had aggressively provoked Turkish-Americans gathering to greet Mr Erdogan, and that they had responded in self-defence.

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