TORONTO, Canada— Armenian Member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Garo Paylan was honored at an event at the Armenian Community Center of Toronto on April 30, where more than 1,500 community members gathered to greet the Parliamentarian, reported the Armenian National Committee of Toronto (ANCT).
The event was sponsored by the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) and organized by a joint Toronto-Armenian organizing committee comprised of the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, Armenian Evangelical Church of Toronto, St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church and the St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church of Toronto along with the Bolsahay Armenian Cultural Association, the Nor Serount Cultural Association, and the ANCT.
Representatives of the major Armenian organizations including: the aforementioned organizing bodies along with the Zoryan Institute, Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), Armenian Relief Society (ARS), Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of Canada, Armenian Seniors Organization of Toronto, Homenetmen, and the Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural and Educational Society were present. Also present was Raffi Bedrosyan, a lead organizer of the Surp Giragos Diyarbakir Church reconstruction project in Turkey.
Representing the Toronto Kurdish and Assyrian communities were the Toronto Kurdish Community Center and the Centre for Canadian-Assyrian relations respectively.
The event started with a short video presentation highlighting Garo Paylan’s civic activism over the past few years. Sevag Belian, Executive-Director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC), then took the stage to present the organizing committee message and introduce Paylan. Belian commended Paylan’s ongoing pursuit for equality, justice, and democratic values, proclaiming: “Mr. Paylan, your actions are humbling and inspiring. An inspiration that with it displays a tenacity that forces one to fully appreciate the true meaning of our struggle for justice and democracy.”
Paylan took the stage to great applause and appreciation. The Parliamentarian provided an overview of the current political climate in Turkey, the aftermath of the constitutional referendum and the ongoing uncertainty and concern regarding the rights and freedoms of the minorities living in Turkey. He stressed the importance of acknowledging history, specifically in regards to the Armenian Genocide, stating, “unpunished crimes lead to new crimes.”
Furthermore, Paylan highlighted the importance of maintaining and upholding the values of democracy, tolerance, respect, and human rights in the Republic of Turkey and around the world.
The attendees had the opportunity ask question after which, Belian invited the President of the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto to present Paylan with two gifts on behalf of the joint organizing committee: Aram Adjemian’s The Call from Armenia, Canada’s Response to the Armenian Genocide reference publication and renowned Canadian-Armenian Kaloust Babian’s photography retrospective.
“Paylan’s presence and exceptional remarks were an inspiration to the entire community and particularly to the upcoming generations who vowed to carry on the torch in the collective struggle of the Armenian people around the world,” read a part of the statement released by the ANCT.
Garo Paylan is a founding member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and is a deputy representing the third district in Istanbul. He is a member of Turkey’s Armenian community and has long been an activist on human rights, freedom of speech, minority rights—particularly Kurdish and Armenian issues, including the Hrant Dink murder case.