Speaking about the anniversary of the genocide, Garo Paylan calls for an investigation into the killing of Armenian MPs in 1915 whose photos he displayed. In Turkey, talking about the “Armenian genocide" can mean three years in prison.
Ankara (AsiaNews) – Garo Paylan (see 1st Photo), a Turkish-Armenian MP for the People's Democratic Party (HDP*), which is pro-Kurdish, two days ago began his address to Turkey’s Grand National Assembly in Ankara with an Armenian greeting, Parev tsez (Hello), a way to remind everyone about the Armenian genocide, which began in 1915, 101 years ago, and whose remembrance falls tomorrow, 24 April.
The genocide led to the almost total annihilation of the Armenian population, whose few human “leftovers of the sword” were deported to the deserts of Syria and Iraq. Thanks to the end of the First World War and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the few survivors rebuilt their life, constituting the world’s Armenian diaspora.
The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the survivors – orphans, widows, all skin and bones, almost without a human form – today struggle in Turkey against falsification of history and state negationism.
In fact, the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the genocide against the Armenians, which is one of sources of tensions between the European Union and Turkey, as well as the Holy See.
Turkish courts have sentenced people to three years in prison just for mentioning the Armenian Genocide in public.
Turkish Armenians, Diaspora Armenians, as well as others want Ankara to acknowledge the "Great Evil", the extermination, and ask for forgiveness.
In his address to parliament, Garo Paylan called on the government to form a commission to investigate the killings of Armenian lawmakers in the Ottoman parliament in 1915 despite their parliamentary immunity.
Stressing that one in two citizens was either Armenian or partly Armenian, he said, “You continue to justify what happened with the excuse of the war”.
“Let us says that there really was a war between Armenians and Turks," Paylan said. “Let us say that some Armenians sided with the Russians. Why blame the entire population? Why exterminate children, women, the elderly, thousands of kilometres from the Turkish-Russian front?”
"I'm here,” Paylan noted, “because a Turkish neighbour house saved my grandfather, who was a child, hiding him in his house in Malatya.”
During the Christian MP’s six-minute address, some Turkish nationalist MPs tried to shout him down. Undaunted, Paylan showed the pictures of the Armenian MPs killed during the 1915 genocide (see 2nd photo) with their names and places they represented:
He also briefly detailed the tragic fate of each during the genocide.
In addition to condemning the murder of lawmakers, the Armenian MP slammed the fact that many streets, squares, schools and hospitals are named after the perpetrators of the Genocide. In fact, some of the perpetrators have their mausoleums on a hill in Istanbul, after being buried as heroes.
“Can you imagine going to Germany and walking on avenues named after Hitler?” he said.
As an applause from Kurdish MPs covered the jeers of Turkish nationalist MPs, Paylan brought his speech to an end, as he started it, in Armenian: “Astvats irents hogin lusavori” – “May God illuminate their souls”. (PB)
* Peoples’ Democratic Party – Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP), Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan (PDG).