Garo Paylan Introduces Armenian Genocide Resolution in Turkish Parliament

ISTANBUL—Armenian Member of the Turkish Parliament Garo Paylan of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) recently introduced a resolution in Turkey’s Grand National Assembly (Parliament), calling for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Paylan during his address to Parliament on April 21, 2016, during which he called for an investigation into the killing of Armenian members of the Turkish Parliament during the Armenian Genocide (Photo: Garo Paylan Facebook page)

The bill which was introduced last week, also seeks to designate April 24—which marks the day in 1915 that the genocide began—as a national day of commemoration.

“Seeking to normalize the Armenian Genocide by tying it to war, making light of it and denying the events are part of the perpetuation of the official thesis… and has led to hate crimes against minorities throughout the republic’s history,” Paylan said in the draft bill, according to a copy obtained by the news outlet Eurasianet.

The proposed bill also calls for the establishment of a commission to investigate who was responsible for the genocide and to remove their names from streets, schools, and other public spaces throughout the country.

The bill also urges that Turkish citizenships be granted to the descendants of Armenian genocide survivors who were forced to leave Turkey.

“After these people were sent into exile in Ayas and Cankiri, the vast majority of them were killed. Among the ones sent into exile and killed were Dr. Nazaret Dagavaryan (Member of Ottoman Parliament), Armen Doryan (writer and journalist), Shavarsh Krisyan (editor of Marmnamarz magazine), Levon Larents (poet), Rupen Sevag (poet), Yenovk Sahen (actor), Siamanto (poet), Hagop Terziyan (writer and pharmacist), Daniel Varujan (poet), Krikor Yesayan (teacher and translator), Rupen Zartarian (writer and poet), Diran Kelekian (writer and Professor of Turkish language) and Krikor Zohrab (writer  and Member of Ottoman Parliament),” the draft states.

“For Turkey to become a peaceful society, it needs a democratic and just approach to its collective memory… Recognizing, condemning, and compensating for the crimes committed as Turkey transitioned from an empire to a republic will allow for the construction of a peace-minded memory and, therefore, a society that can live together,” Paylan said in his introduction of the bill.

Paylan is a founding member of the HDP and is a deputy representing the third district in Istanbul. Paylan is also a member of Turkey’s Armenian community and has long been an activist on human rights and Kurdish and Armenian issues.

Prior to being elected to Turkey’s parliament in 2015, Paylan served on the central committee of HDP and also served on the management of Armenian schools in Istanbul. He has long promoted bilingual education and minority rights in Turkey and has been actively engaged in raising awareness on discrimination toward minorities, the rights of the Armenian community in Turkey, Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, and especially the Hrant Dink murder case. Mr. Paylan is from a family originally from Malatya.

Three weeks after his first election into Turkey’s Parliament on the HDP list, Paylan spoke to the Armenian Weekly about his path to parliament and the challenges of being an Armenian in Turkey’s political scene.


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