Turkey suspends Armenian MP for mentioning genocide

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Garo Paylan, Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament for the HDP. File photo

ARA News 

Ankara – Armenian MP Garo Paylan was suspended for mentioning “genocide against minorities” in a speech he gave on the pending amendments to the constitution. Paylan is a representative for the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

“A period of 10 years of chaos started and during that period, between 1913-1923, we lost four peoples: Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians and Jews. They were deported amidst large-scale massacres and genocides,” Paylan said during his speech on Saturday.

“Once we were 40% of the population, now we are as few as one in a thousand,” the Armenian MP continued. “Doubtless, something terrible happened to us. I call it genocide, you can call it whatever you want. Let’s name it together and move on.”

“The Armenian people know what happened to them. I know what happened to my ancestors, to my grandfather. I am one of the ‘leftovers of the sword’ as you call it, declared null and void,” Paylan reasoned.

“Let’s draw lessons from the past and not develop calamities out of it. You name it and let’s confront it together,” he said, calling for a pluralist constitution to protect Turkey from a repeat of its Ottoman past.

During his speech, Paylan was interrupted and criticized by MPs from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

As tensions grew, MPs from the AKP, MHP and the Republican’s People’s Party (CHP) voted to suspend Paylan’s right to attend the plenary session for three days.

The People’s Democratic Party  issued a statement on Monday condemning the suspension of Paylan. “In order to fulfill their parliamentary mandates, MPs should have the right to express their ideas without any fear and intimidation.”

The HDP reasoned that Paylan’s suspension was “in clear violation of freedom of expression that simultaneously delineates the limits of acceptable,” and an “anti-democratic practice.”

The pro-Kurdish party also said that Paylan should be reinstated, arguing that his removal gave a stark “insight into the character of Constitutional amendments under debate and the presidential system that the Erdoğan-AKP regime is so eager to establish.”

The Turkish parliament has since approved the constitutional reform package, paving the way for a centralized presidential system, presided over by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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