Erdoğan condemns U.S. police ‘torture’ on Gezi anniversary

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday sent his condolences to the family of George Floyd, an African-American man who died after sustaining injuries during a forceful arrest by the Minneapolis police on Monday.

“The racist and fascist approach that led to the death of George Floyd in the U.S. city of Minneapolis as a result of torture has not only deeply saddened all of us, but it has also become one of the most painful manifestations of the unjust order we stand against across the world,” Erdoğan said on Twitter, calling the incident inhumane in consequent tweets.

“I remember with respect George Floyd and extend my condolences to his family and loved ones,” he said, adding that Turkey will monitor the issue.

Some Turkish social media users replied to Erdoğan’s tweet with instances of death due to police violence in Turkey, including children as young as eight.

Steven Cook, a senior fellow for MENA studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said on Twitter that Erdoğan lacked “self-awareness”, referring to Turkey’s heavily stained track record with police violence.

Erdoğan’s tweets came as authorities in Minneapolis, Minnesota, arrested CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez as he covered the riots that broke out after Floyd, 46, died in the hospital due to injuries sustained when a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Video of the incident showed Floyd handcuffed on the ground, pleading for air.

The arrest was reminiscent of a similar incident in 2014 in Turkey, when another CNN correspondent, Ivan Watson, was arrested on live television while covering the one-year anniversary of the Gezi Park protests.

Cook said Minnesota had “gone full on Turkey.”

“The State Police may not arrest journalists for covering stories of police brutality. This is the United State,” Cook said.

Jimenez had been reporting at the site of a burned-down Minneapolis police station when he was approached by officers in riot gear.

CNN said Jimenez’s credentials were visible, he identified himself as a reporter, and told the officers his crew would move to where they would be allowed, while the police told the crew they were being detained for not cooperating.

“Has (the United States) transformed into Turkey? What next?” BBC correspondent Selin Girit said in a tweet.

Watson had also shown his press card to Turkish police during his broadcast. He had been walking in front of a row of officers when a plainclothes officer approached him and asked for his passport and whether he was a journalist.

The demonstration Watson had been covering was the one year anniversary of the Gezi Park protests, which started at the end of May 2013 as a small peaceful sit-in against the proposed destruction of its namesake park in central Istanbul, but quickly turned into one of the biggest demonstrations against a government in Turkey’s history when the police responded with the excessive use of tear gas. Eight protesters and a total of 12 people died during the protests, which spread out over the summer throughout the country, with an estimated attendance of four million people.