By enforcing restrictions on its parliamentarians’ right to express their opinion freely, Turkey is seeking to turn a blind eye to the dark chapters of its own history, according to Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Majilis (People’s Democratic Party).
In an interview with Tert.am, Paylan shared his concerns over the recently proposed legislative measure envisaging fines and other sanctions for the use of “genocide” in the country’s chief lawmaking body.
He also referred to the sanctions against him after what was perceived as a controversial speech at a constitutional debate last year. “Last year, they restricted my freedom of expression as I spoke about the Armenian Genocide. Now they are trying to do it legitimately by adopting a law which will bar me from speaking about the dark pages of Turkey’s history, including the Armenian Genocide,” he said.
Paylan, who repeatedly before faced persecutions for Genocide remarks in parliament and was suspended from three sessions in late 2016, noted that against the backdrop of Turkey’s silence, other countries are often vocal about the issue.
“Other parliaments make decisions concerning Turkey’s history, and discuss and condemn its dark chapters. I always propose my colleagues that we too, address those chapters, but they will not accept that,” he said.
The Turkish-Armenian MP said he sees high chances that the package, proposed by the ruling Justice and Development party and backed the nationalist opposition National Movement party, wil pass the parliament’s vote.
In his words, the move aims to not only put an end to genocide debates but also silence the Kurdish issue.
“We have been elected by people who cast their votes in our favor, so we, the parliamentarians, must be free to raise their voices in parliament. But the parliament blocks all our chances to raise the voices of the Armenians, Kurds and Alevis, and to speak about the Armenian Genocide and the Kurdish problems,” he said, not ruling out the possibility that the Genocide issue might be a taboo even after enforcing a corresponding legislation.
In the face of the Syrian immigrants, the West did not exert and is still not exerting considerable efforts to influence Turkey’s authoritarian regime, Paylan said.
He added that despite the real chances of the proposed bill’s success, all the members of their party will fight its passage. Paylan said he hopes that the People’s Republican Party will also join the campaign.