Paylan Calls for Removal of Religious Affiliation from Turkish IDs

Armenian MP Also Calls for Eradication of Secret Ethnicity Classification Codes

Garo Paylan (Photo:
Garo Paylan (Photo:

ANKARA, Turkey (A.W.)—Garo Paylan, an Armenian parliamentarian of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on Jan. 13 proposed that the Turkish Parliament remove the religious affiliation component on Turkish identification cards, as well as eradicate the notorious secret ethnicity classification codes for citizens.

In his speech in parliament, Paylan noted that he himself has been subjected to racism within the Turkish bureaucracy because of the divisive classification systems, according to a report by Armenia-based “When they see a name like Garo that isn’t familiar, they look to find the religion listed. When they see that I am listed as a Christian, one day’s work won’t get done for a week or 10 days… I am repeatedly discriminated against,” he was quoted as saying.

Paylan also strongly criticized the secret ethnicity classification codes for citizens, which the government keeps on record. “We Armenians are number ‘2’s,’ the Greeks are ‘1’s,’ the Jews are ‘3’s,’ and the Assyrians are ‘4’s,” he reportedly said, adding that people are being discriminated against due to these codes in various government departments, including the military.

Speaking to the Armenian Weekly in July 2015, Paylan explained how his proposal to remove what he called the “vicious” secret codes from Turkey’s education system had been approved. “If you are to send your child to an Armenian school, you have to prove that you are in fact Armenian. You have to submit a form, and they look if you are a number 2 or not. But there are many Islamized Armenians, and children of mixed marriages. Our parents have so many problems with the coding system. It’s actually humiliating. I argue that we know each other; we know who is an Armenian and who is not. You have to give us that permission. So [the minister of education] just signed it—it’s no longer going to be based on the code. We are going to decide who can attend our schools,” he said.

During his July 2015 interview, Paylan also discussed how he would introduce a measure aimed at removing the coding for good. “I will still open another case about the coding, because it’s not just about the education system. Whenever we go into military service or apply for public service positions, they look at the code again. We have to get rid of that code. Luckily, we got rid of the code in the education system. Our parents won’t have to prove that they are Armenian anymore,” he said.



  1. Religion on a government-issued ID card? Ethnicity codes? Is this what Ataturk instituted? I thought he threw in his lot with the West and made Turkey a secular state.

    • Zev,
      Lenin tried with same mentality, as Ataturk did for Turkey, when Ottomans Caliphate collapsed. Lenin ideology failed after 70 years of fake corrupted brotherhood.

      Turkey will follow same path of USSR, where forcefully Turkified nations of Turkey will rise and discover their ancestral roots!

  2. Doesn’t the world see what turkey is all about or are they so blind because of political motivations. I wish the world sees this country for what it really is. Turkey cannot hide the truths but the world should not pretend either for what turkey does. Hope the EU wakes up and cancels whatever hope turkey has in becoming an EU member. Get out of NATO too – oh! but that’s not possible – wonder why??????????????????

  3. ¿Y qué tiene que decir la Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Ginebra sobre esto? Parece que existen dos “sistemas de medida” en estos casos.
    Sr. Paylan: usted y los demás diputados de ascendencia armenia en el parlamento turco tienen todo el apoyo de la diáspora, ¡no baje los brazos!

  4. Stamping the religion on the ID Card of a new-born baby is something archaic.
    My personal experience for the removal of the religion column from my ID Card was a simple one.
    I went to the government office, they wanted me to write a petition indicating that I would like to remove Islam from my ID and signed it. That was it !!!
    Only thing, the person in the department did not know how to make it on the computer, so she wanted me sit and make it.

  5. Dear Avery, I take exception to your calling Markar Esayan a “so called Armenian”. Whether you agree with his actions or thoughts he is still an Armenian. Moreover, he has written many articles in support of the Armenian issues, and all at a great cost to himself and his security.

    Secondly, I question the value of the request by Mr. Paylan. What difference does the notation on the ID card make if the people are set on discriminating. Armenians in Turkey have lived with losing their grasp of the Armenian language, they now speak Armenian with a Turkish accent, if they speak at all, they have Turkified their names, and taken all other kinds of measures to be inconspicuous. They are still hated and discriminated against. Some of it is even proscribed in law. I don’t think anything will change as long as majority of people carry this hatred against Armenians. In the meanwhile, I pray for Mr. Paylan’s safety and security.

    • Dear Ani:

      An Armenian who works against his ethnos, Armenians, and against his ethnic kin, Armenians of Artsakh, in support of a nationality (Turk) who have committed massacres, ethnic cleansing, and Genocide against Armenians – is ‘Armenian’ in name only.

      You and I have different definitions of what makes one an Armenian then.

      And I am quite familiar with the writings of Mr. Esayan on the pages of TodaysZaman. I have been reading TZ regularly for years, including Mr. Esayan’s columns: do not recall him writing articles in support of Armenian issues. And doubt very much he has put his life in any danger, because he has always worked for or on behalf of the Turkish state.

      And I may have missed seeing articles he supposedly wrote of Armenian issues: please provide the links to some of the many articles.


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