ANKARA, Turkey (A.W.)— Members of Turkish Parliament could face penalties if they use the terms “Armenian Genocide” or “Kurdistan,” according to a draft bill proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The changes come as a part of an 18-article draft bill overhauling the internal regulations of Parliament and are expected to be discussed next week.
According to Turkey-based Hurriyet Daily News, the AKP says the changes are necessary to combat what it says are opposition parties’ efforts to slow down legislative work.
Deputies who use the term will be banned from three General Assembly (parliamentary) sessions and two thirds of their salary, which is around 18,000 Turkish Liras (approx. $4,978 USD), will be cut. This sanction will also be valid for deputies who describe Turkey’s southeastern region as “Kurdistan,” and provinces in this region as “Kurdish provinces.”
Tensions existed prior to the discussion of this rule as Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Garo Paylan was suspended from Parliament in January after mentioning the Armenian Genocide in his remarks.
In his speech, Paylan referenced four communities including the Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, and Jews, and how they had been removed from their homes in large massacres and genocides. He was then suspended from three parliamentary sessions after his remarks angered AKP Parliamentarians.
Paylan had appealed to the Constitutional Court on the grounds of “violation of parliamentary immunity and abolishment of freedom of expression.” After receiving a rejection, he decided to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Paylan was also attacked in May 2016 as a fight broke out between members of the HDP and the AKP prior to the approval of a Turkish parliamentary committee of the bill stripping parliamentarians of their immunity. The Armenian parliamentarian was targeted in the attack both physically and verbally. Paylan, at the time, stated that his Armenian ethnicity had made him a target.
This form of legislation comes following a series of arrests that are part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown after the failed coup that took place last July.