Turkish Manhunt For Garo Paylan
May 5, 2016
By SETO BOYADJIAN, Esq.
Within the span of one week, it is the third time that legislators
from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are making
physical attacks in the Turkish Parliament against their colleagues
from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The Turkish media is calling
these attacks as a mere “kavga” – a brawl, while the media in the West
is referring to them as a simple “fistfight”.
Unfortunately, it is more sinister than a “kavga” or a “fistfight”.
It is a manhunt against the opposition lawmakers that can only end in
their physical elimination. This tragic prospect is more than real in
the AKP manhunt for HDP lawmaker Garo Paylan, who is of Armenian
origin. The incremental trend of these attacks speaks for themselves.
The first wave of attacks was initiated on April 27 during the
plenary session of parliament, when HDP deputy Ferhat Encü took a
courageous stand accusing the government for indiscriminate bombing
and killing of innocent citizens.
The second round of attacks came on April 28 during the meeting of
Parliamentary Constitution Conciliation Committee (PCCC) convened to
discuss legislation on lifting lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution.
The AKP members moved to usher the journalists out of the committee
room and asked for a change of the venue. When HDP lawmakers opposed
their motion, AKP deputies again resorted to physical attacks.
The third wave of AKP assault took place a few days ago, on May 2,
when the PCCC reconvened to discuss the legislation aimed at lifting
immunity for legislators. As soon as the meeting opened, AKP members
resorted to their usual physical attacks by kicking and throwing
punches at HDP lawmakers. This time, however, the AKP members were
targeting one person – HDP Istanbul MP Garo Paylan.
According to Mr. Paylan, the AKP MPs attacked him in a “planned way”
He “was directly targeted and got kicked and punched around 100 times
in 20-30 seconds.”
Soon after, AKP orchestrated a media attack led by AKP Istanbul MP
Mehmet Metiner, accusing Mr. Paylan of provocation. However, the
minutes of the committee are very clear. At the opening of the
meeting, referring to the postponement of the previous April 28
meeting, the Turkish Minister of Justice stated, “In the previous
commission meeting, HDP MPs and advisors inflicted violence”. Mr.
Paylan immediately uttered three words, “No they didn’t” – and the AKP
physical attacks began. The minutes of the committee’s April 28
meeting establish that the Justice Minister was lying through his
This, then, was just a pretext to target Mr. Paylan. The attacks
against him assumed the countenance of a lynching party. As if it was
planned beforehand, 10-15 AKP people jointly surrounded him by
shouting “Garo is here, Garo is here…”. Then they began throwing their
kicks and punches at “Garo”. Mr. Paylan was able to save himself by
jumping over the barrier separating the meeting benches and the well
of the committee room.
This is an ominous development. Opposition MPs in Turkey are
henceforth faced with the danger of incarceration or physical
liquidation by the rulers of the Turkish Republic.
The lifting of immunity bill has now been approved by the committee,
backed by AKP, Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist
Movement Party (MHP), and opposed by HDP. The Turkish Parliament will
hear it on May 16 and move for its adoption. Its passage will be of no
surprise, as it was initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayipp
Erdogan. This move is Erdogan’s solution to muzzle and eliminate the
non-Turkic “elements” of the National Assembly.
Turkish authorities have already filed criminal “dossiers” against
many opposition MPs. More than 50 of the HDP’s 59 sitting deputies
have such “dossiers” filed against them. As soon as the lifting of
immunity is passed by parliament, they will be apprehended and
indicted with serious criminal charges.
Of course, Garo Paylan will not be spared. In his case, the charges
are bound to be more severe, because of his Armenian heritage. As Mr.
Paylan explained it, he is singled out and targeted because of his
“Armenian identity”. He described the manhunt against him very
clearly: “What they can’t digest is this: A person of Armenian
identity reveals their lies and stands upright… They want to see the
Armenian obeying them.”
The manhunt against Mr. Paylan should stop. The authorities in the
European Union and United States have the power to circumvent this
hunt. The Armenian National Committee of America has already appealed
to the White House and the U.S. State Department to condemn the
attacks against Mr. Paylan. The European Union should not hesitate to
do the same. They have to resort to immediate action.
The last time such manhunt was orchestrated in Turkey, it was against
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. The governments in the U.S.
and Europe did nothing to stop the manhunt. And Hrant Dink was
murdered on January 19, 2007.
The last time Turkish authorities rounded up members of Turkish
Parliament was on the eve of April 24, 1915, when the Armenian MPs
were taken out for their “personal safety”, then moved to a remote
place, and then murdered one by one. That was the beginning of the
This time we cannot let it come that again.