Paylan: This Is an Attack against Me and My Identity
ANKARA, Turley (A.W.)—Prior to the approval by a Turkish parliamentary committee of a bill stripping parliamentarians of their immunity, a physical fight broke out on May 2 between members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party. HDP’s Armenian Parliamentarian Garo Paylan was targeted in the attack, both physically and through hate speech. Paylan called the attack a premeditated “lynching” campaign in a press statement on May 3. This was the second fight in parliament in the past five days.
The proposed bill aims to shed the immunity of MPs who are currently facing investigations. According to the HDP, the immunity bill was drafted and approved specifically to target them and to suppress opposition to the ruling regime.
The bill will be debated in the parliament’s General Assembly and then voted on in order to be put into practice. Reuters quoted senior AKP member Bulent Turan as saying that the ruling AKP wishes for the parliamentary debate to begin on May 16, and for the vote to take place by May 18.
Members of parliament exchanged punches, kicks, and threw objects at each other on May 2, prompting HDP members to withdraw from the chamber.
“Today, news agencies spread information that it was I who ‘poured oil on the fire’ and ‘sparked’ [the fight]; [they are] depicting the HDP Parliamentarians as the cause of the physical violence, and [are] distorting the truth,” said Paylan in the statement.
“As is evident in the video, Istanbul AKP member Mehmet Metiner attacked me, after which a fistfight broke out and the premeditated lynching commenced,” Paylan said.
“I condemn this hate speech and hate crime that were directed at me and my identity,” he added.
Paylan said that he was personally targeted by members of the AKP, after he dismissed Turkey’s Justice Minister’s claims that the HDP had instigated a fight in parliament on April 28. Paylan also said that he thought the attack on HDP members was planned in advance, and the fact that he is an ethnic Armenian made him a target.
“During the attack, AKP members pointed at me and yelled ‘Come, Garo is there,’ and stressed my Armenian heritage, yelling hateful slurs directed at me,” Paylan said in the press statement following the fight, adding “the fascists are scared, and will attack insidiously only in groups.”
In a statement following the attack, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) said it had repeatedly and unsuccessfully called on the U.S. government to condemn the political prosecution, persecution, and threats directed against Agos Editor Hrant Dink prior to his 2007 murder. “Despite all our efforts and the clear facts on the ground, the U.S. Department of State and the White House could not find their way to utter even one public word in his defense. One expression of concern. One word on his behalf. That is, until his death,” said Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian in a statement.
“Let us work to ensure that the same fate does not befall Garo Paylan—a truth teller and peace maker who deserves the support, not the silence, of the elected representatives of the American people,” said Hamparian.
Below is a video footage of the attack in parliament.