Armenian Bar Association in solidarity with Garo Paylan
Armenian Bar Association in solidarity with Garo Paylan –
There is an unnerving beastliness to it all. A swarming pack of obstreperous wolves, in grey suits, pouncing with an increasingly surging vigor. The instinctive voraciousness of the horde, the base aggression rapidly aroused among each in the pack, is utterly remarkable. The scent of an impending slay, the lure of an opportune blood-letting, and a raucous cacophony of an emboldened ambush is suddenly upon the Armenian . . . again.
On May 2, 2016, during consultations at the constitutional commission of the Turkish Parliament, MPs from Turkey’s ruling AK party physically pounced upon Mr. Garo Paylan, an MP of Armenian origin. The attackers’ calls to one another—“Come over, Garo is here!”—is heard in video footage amidst patent hate speech plainly targeting Mr. Paylan because of his Armenian identity. On that day, in an institution purportedly entrusted to champion the rule of law in the Turkish Republic, parliamentarians physically targeted one of their own because of his Armenian identity in what a publicly-released statement from the attacked MP described as a “pre-meditated lynch attempt.” As the video footage lays bare, the devolution from civilized discourse to targeted hate violence against the Armenian—this time, in a chamber of the Turkish Parliament itself—sources from something eerily deeper.
The attack is, at once, shamelessly disgusting, instinctively base and poignantly telling: the denial of the truth not only emboldens the impunity of the perpetrator but bleeds the hateful venom surreptitiously into the very persona of its progeny. It is this venom which bespattered the blood of Armenians a century ago in what became known as the “slaughterhouse” provinces; it is this venom which nearly annihilated a defenseless people in their own homeland; it is this venom which masked the identity of survivors for lifetimes in fear of odious reprisal; it is this venom which placed the three bullets in the back of the head of Hrant Dink on an Istanbul street. And it is this venom that fueled the swarming grey-suited horde upon the man speaking truth in a den of wolves.
The events of May 2, 2016 demonstrate a horridness unbecoming of the elected leadership of any country. At its legal core, it is affront to the ideals of the European Convention on Human Rights and, of course, a mockery of the rule of law aspirations pronounced in the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey itself. It ridicules the spirit of the guaranties secured in the Treaty of Lausanne that obliges the Republic to afford its Armenian minority certain protections. It is, of course, a blackletter hate crime. But it is more than that: it is the latest in an unending and globally-appeased series of human rights violations, civil rights derogations and hate violence condoned, in fact encouraged, by the Turkish Republic against its own people—and, in particular, against Armenians still living under its dominion. Sure, to the casual observer of the now-viral video, it could be shrugged off as comedic, a farcical devolution of parliamentary formality into a rolling brawl within republican democracy as seen many times before—were it not for the fact that, in this episode, it concludes with a call to violate the dignity of a human being on account of his Armenian identity . . . again.
We remind the Turkish government, and members of its ruling AK party in particular, that Garo Paylan is more than an elected member of the Turkish Parliament. He is more than a mere citizen of the Republic of Turkey. He is more than a national of a protected minority under the Lausanne Treaty. He is more than a human afforded civil liberties under the European Convention on Human Rights. He is more than even the voice of victims of the Armenian Genocide in the Turkish Parliament itself. Mr. Garo Paylan carries, within his veins, the lifeblood of the indigenous Armenian nation whose physical presence on a piece of earth now in Turkish custody predates the existence of the Republic of Turkey itself.
This truth is inescapable. That the Republic itself is built on property pilfered from the hands of his people is inescapable. That the trees and flowers blooming today on those lands are nourished by the blood of his ancestors is inescapable. That those structures laid waste in the countryside whose crosses have been ripped from their domes are actually the Christian churches of his people is inescapable. This is the inconvenient truth that confronts Garo Paylan’s attackers each morning in the Turkish Parliament; this is the inconvenient truth that causes a horde of democratically-elected men to instinctively spew the abhorrent refrain of their hateful venom in a government chamber; and this is the inconvenient truth that leads these same men to impulsively leap off of tables in beastly concert to violently pounce a Garo Paylan to the ground. Yet, even after all of this, the inescapable truth remains simply that—the inescapable truth. And like the genocidal slaughter of the Armenian people, like the fear-mongering that stole lifetimes of identity from hidden Armenians and like the bullets in the head of Hrant Dink himself—the beating of Garo Paylan simply cannot make the truth go away.
The Armenian Bar Association stands in unwavering solidarity with Garo Paylan and calls for an immediate prosecution of those heeding the call to physically attack him on account of his Armenian identity during the government session on May 2, 2016. The Association also calls for an immediate investigation into the role of the AK party’s leadership in what the attacked MP’s publicly-released statement described as a “premeditated lynch attempt.” There is simply little room left for hate crimes against Armenians by those wielding Turkish dominion. The tolerance of Armenians worldwide to watch the progeny of the Altaic horde upon its own children waned exhaustively thin more than a century ago.
ARMENIAN RIGHTS WATCH COMMITTEE – ARWC
ARMENIAN BAR ASSOCIATION