ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A lawmaker from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party on Tuesday called on the Parliament to come to terms with the country’s past and recognize the systematic killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire over a century.
“Today is April 24. 103 years ago, on April 24, 1915, 250 Armenian politicians, intellectuals, writers, and journalists were rounded up and taken to Ayash, one of the towns of this very city Ankara. From there they were driven to Cankiri where almost all of them were killed,” MP Garo Paylan told a presser at the Turkish Parliament.
Himself an Istanbul-born Armenian, Paylan reminded that after the killing of Armenian intellectuals, the then administration of “Young Turks” passed a law called “Law of Deportation” that resulted in what the majority of the international community now recognize as a genocide.
April 24 is globally commemorated in memory of the Armenian population that suffered the mass killings or forced displacement to Syrian deserts.
Paylan said it was primarily the Turkish Parliament’s duty to discuss his people’s plight and not that of other parliaments’ as Armenians were citizens of the Ottoman Empire.
Uttering the words “Armenian Genocide” or “Kurdistan” at the Turkish Parliament’s general assembly is banned. Paylan was speaking to reporters at a room designated for the media.
Last year, a deputy speaker banished him for three legislative sessions for saying “Armenian Genocide.”
“Crimes repeat when they are not faced,” he warned, urging swift democratization of Turkey.
He also revealed that he had submitted a draft bill last Friday, proposing recognition of the genocide the Armenian people call Medz Yeghern or “the Great Calamity.”
“A sense of justice will heal us all. It will put our country in a place of respect. Germany did not become a little country by recognizing the Holocaust. Nor did South Africa when it apologized for the massacres committed against the Blacks,” Paylan continued.
“Facing [the genocide] will be good for all of us. I call on all citizens of Turkey to face the past, see it through a just memory, and create a shared future,” he said, according to statements on the HDP website.
At a weekly convention of her party’s MPs, HDP’s Pervin Buldan said she shared the Armenian people’s pain.
The governorate of Istanbul, meanwhile, prevented a group of people consisting of prominent human rights activists, pro-Kurdish MPs, and lawmakers from France from commemorating the victims at the touristic Sultanahmet Square.
Authorities also told the group that if they used the word “genocide,” police, who later briefly arrested three people, would intervene.
Another commemoration took place at Taksim Square. However, they also faced the ban on the word.
After lighting candles and a silent sit-in, the group headed to the nearby Human Rights Association’s Istanbul Branch and read out a statement there.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany