Garo Paylan, a member of Parliament of Armenian descent who belongs to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), gave a speech and showed some photos in the Turkish general assembly on Thursday.
The photos showed some of the graffiti that had been daubed on the ruined walls of southeastern villages during the recent curfews. The words “Armenian bastards” can be clearly seen on the photos and the situation has triggered a serious racism debate in Turkey.
Paylan first showed the photos and then stated that the situation is in itself a crime. He said this crime was committed not only by the security forces but also by the prime minister. As you might recall, last week Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in Bingöl and said “the Armenian gangs cooperated with the Russians during World War I”. Paylan wisely asked in Parliament whether it would be fair for him to say “Turkish gangs” about the Turks and Kurds who sometimes join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)? Lastly, he asked “what kind of racism is it?”, drawing a thunderous commotion in Parliament from Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputies.
Let’s visualize that our father committed a crime, namely killed our neighbor and buried him in our backyard. We were four years of age, but we saw the situation. Now we are grown up, but the reality, which lies in our sub-conscious, occasionally comes to the conscious surface. I believe that it was such a moment when Paylan showed the pictures yesterday. Being confronted by reality is always painful, but to postpone the confrontation only creates bigger and ongoing mistakes.
We have an unconfronted racism inside us. Whatever we say, it becomes visible at key moments. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will not abide by or respect the decision of the Constitutional Court, Turkey’s top court, after it declared on Feb. 25 that the imprisonment of Cumhuriyet daily’s Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and its Ankara representative Erdem Gül for publishing photos on an alleged illegal weapons transfer to Syria was a violation of their basic rights. If the president has no respect for the rule of law, we can not expect any positive developments in the area of democratization.
I send my deepest regards to all Armenians living in Turkey and outside. Although it is not my duty, I apologize for every individual who has suffered. The Armenians living in the diaspora should remember that there are still people living in Turkey who deem themselves allied to law and there are still people who have not lost their conscience. We will not leave our neighbors alone and won’t let racism reign over Turkey. The Union and Progress (Ittihad ve Terakki) mentality is still alive in Turkey and its representatives are not giving up. Let me recall that there are more deputies in Parliament to stop this racism and that Paylan also found support from the Republican People’s Party (CHP). The most important thing to confront is the reality that has racist backgrounds forcing us to continue the mistakes of the past. The belief in law and conscience is the key to confronting this reality.