Garo Paylan: “An unprecedented punishment was imposed on me because I uttered the word “genocide”

Recently, HDP MP Garo Paylan was banned from the Turkish parliament for 3 sessions and subjected to verbal assault for he used the word “genocide” and his speech was removed from the parliamentary minutes. Paylan wrote the following for Agos about what happened before and after the speech and what was his intention in the first place.

Last week, I was in Berlin for attending the conference organized in memory of Hrant Dink. The day after the conference, I had a meeting with a group of deputies in Bundestag. When I entered Reichstag building where Bundestag is located, I heard a very nice piano melody. I asked the people who welcomed me where this melody was coming from. They said, “From the hall of general assembly.” 

I couldn't help but peek inside the hall and they said that there was an event for commemorating the Holocaust. The hall was full. All deputies, Chancellor Merkel and ministers were present at the hall of the general assembly. All of the parliament warmly applauded this piano recital and speeches in memory of the Holocaust. 

I should admit that I envied. German Parliament was commemorating the victims of the great crime that was committed by Nazi government in the recent history. And I was coming from an entirely different atmosphere; from my country, where the atrocities of yesterday haven't been acknowledged and the atrocities of today go on with impunity... I felt sorry for my country and went to the meeting with teary eyes...

Just a week before this meeting, I was banned from the parliament because I mentioned what happened to my people at the end of Ottoman period. While I, as an Armenian deputy, wasn't allowed to speak about 102-years-old sins; all German deputies, leftists, rightists, members of the ruling and opposing parties, were sitting side by side with a great self-confidence and confronting with their mistakes. And none of them was thinking that German identity is defamed by that.

The constitution that Odian wrote 

In Turkey, looking at the pages of the history is getting more and more difficult. Let me tell you how I experienced it. One week before the commemoration event in Berlin, I began to talk about the proposed constitutional amendments by saying, “We are about to make a historic mistake.” I said, “We long for a social contract which everyone living in our common homeland can call my constitution.”

My purpose was to take the deputies back to the days when the constitution was discussed in the Ottoman period. I wanted to remind them about the mistakes that were made back then. In fact, few people know that our first constitution was written in 1876 by a committee consisting of various identities, and KrikorOdian was the one who wrote it. This constitution was suspended by Abdulhamid and a period of autocracy started, which continued until 1908. And you know the rest... Seeking democracy, coup by Talat and Enver, and the great disaster...

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Photo credit: Berge Arabian