Turkish Manhunt For Garo Paylan

Turkish Manhunt For Garo Paylan –


 Within the span of one week, it is the third time that legislators from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are making physical attacks in the Turkish Parliament against their colleagues from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The Turkish media is calling these attacks as a mere “kavga” – a brawl, while the media in the West is referring to them as a simple “fistfight”.

 Unfortunately, it is more sinister than a “kavga” or a “fistfight”. It is a manhunt against the opposition lawmakers that can only end in their physical elimination. This tragic prospect is more than real in the AKP manhunt for HDP lawmaker Garo Paylan, who is of Armenian origin. The incremental trend of these attacks speaks for themselves.  

 The first wave of attacks was initiated on April 27 during the plenary session of parliament, when HDP deputy Ferhat Encü took a courageous stand accusing the government for indiscriminate bombing and killing of innocent citizens.

 The second round of attacks came on April 28 during the meeting of Parliamentary Constitution Conciliation Committee (PCCC) convened to discuss legislation on lifting lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution. The AKP members moved to usher the journalists out of the committee room and asked for a change of the venue. When HDP lawmakers opposed their motion, AKP deputies again resorted to physical attacks.

 The third wave of AKP assault took place a few days ago, on May 2, when the PCCC reconvened to discuss the legislation aimed at lifting immunity for legislators. As soon as the meeting opened, AKP members resorted to their usual physical attacks by kicking and throwing punches at HDP lawmakers. This time, however, the AKP members were targeting one person – HDP Istanbul MP Garo Paylan.

 According to Mr. Paylan, the AKP MPs attacked him in a “planned way” He “was directly targeted and got kicked and punched around 100 times in 20-30 seconds.”

 Soon after, AKP orchestrated a media attack led by AKP Istanbul MP Mehmet Metiner, accusing Mr. Paylan of provocation. However, the minutes of the committee are very clear. At the opening of the meeting, referring to the postponement of the previous April 28 meeting, the Turkish Minister of Justice stated, “In the previous commission meeting, HDP MPs and advisors inflicted violence”. Mr. Paylan immediately uttered three words, “No they didn’t” – and the AKP physical attacks began. The minutes of the committee’s April 28 meeting establish that the Justice Minister was lying through his teeth.  

 This, then, was just a pretext to target Mr. Paylan. The attacks against him assumed the countenance of a lynching party. As if it was planned beforehand, 10-15 AKP people jointly surrounded him by shouting “Garo is here, Garo is here…”. Then they began throwing their kicks and punches at “Garo”. Mr. Paylan was able to save himself by jumping over the barrier separating the meeting benches and the well of the committee room.

 This is an ominous development. Opposition MPs in Turkey are henceforth faced with the danger of incarceration or physical liquidation by the rulers of the Turkish Republic.

 The lifting of immunity bill has now been approved by the committee, backed by AKP, Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and opposed by HDP. The Turkish Parliament will hear it on May 16 and move for its adoption. Its passage will be of no surprise, as it was initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan. This move is Erdogan’s solution to muzzle and eliminate the non-Turkic “elements” of the National Assembly.

 Turkish authorities have already filed criminal “dossiers” against many opposition MPs. More than 50 of the HDP’s 59 sitting deputies have such “dossiers” filed against them. As soon as the lifting of immunity is passed by parliament, they will be apprehended and indicted with serious criminal charges.

 Of course, Garo Paylan will not be spared. In his case, the charges are bound to be more severe, because of his Armenian heritage. As Mr. Paylan explained it, he is singled out and targeted because of his “Armenian identity”. He described the manhunt against him very clearly: “What they can’t digest is this: A person of Armenian identity reveals their lies and stands upright… They want to see the Armenian obeying them.”

 The manhunt against Mr. Paylan should stop. The authorities in the European Union and United States have the power to circumvent this hunt. The Armenian National Committee of America has already appealed to the White House and the U.S. State Department to condemn the attacks against Mr. Paylan. The European Union should not hesitate to do the same. They have to resort to immediate action.

 The last time such manhunt was orchestrated in Turkey, it was against Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. The governments in the U.S. and Europe did nothing to stop the manhunt. And Hrant Dink was murdered on January 19, 2007.

 The last time Turkish authorities rounded up members of Turkish Parliament was on the eve of April 24, 1915, when the Armenian MPs were taken out for their “personal safety”, then moved to a remote place, and then murdered one by one. That was the beginning of the Armenian Genocide.

 This time we cannot let it come that again.

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