BY TSOLER AGHJIAN
From The Armenian Weekly
Garo Paylan, the Armenian parliamentarian of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), started his speech in the Turkish Parliament on November 28 by saluting the Grand National Assembly’s president and parliament members with “Parev Tsez” (“Hello” in Armenian). He offered his sincere condolences to the families of Tahir Elçi and the policeman who were killed in Diyarbakir. Paylan then delivered a powerful speech on injustice, the crimes committed by the state, the cover-ups, and the lack of press freedom in Turkey.
Below is the English translation of Paylan’s speech.
Tahir Elçi was a dove just like Hrant Dink. Two days before being killed, as Hrant Dink was writing “I am uneasy as a dove, but I know that in this country they do not hurt the doves,” this country’s security intelligence and gendarme intelligence sent Ogün Samast from Trabzon to Istanbul, and helped him commit the murder. Eight years have passed since that incident and we are still doing our best to release this hidden truth to the public.
A while ago, his Excellency said that he doesn’t accuse the state… The state is already loaded with three layers of dirt; our job is to clean that dirt and not to cover it. Because if we do not, the crimes will accumulate and they will be repeated, just like what happened to Hrant Dink: His murder was left unpunished and this is why another dove (Tahir Elçi) who believed in peace, brotherhood, negotiation, freedom of speech, and democracy was killed.
Two days ago, two reporters, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, were arrested while they were trying to uncover that layer of dust.
When the state is committing a crime, who will dare to speak about it? Generally, there are three organs in a democratic system—of course, if there aren’t any dictatorships—which carry this responsibility. The first one is the parliament, but unfortunately the majority of the members raise their hands without being able to remove that dirt; if the parliament couldn’t do it, then in a democracy the fourth power is given to the press. Forget about the judiciary, I’m not taking it into account… I was in the court when Can Dündar and Erdem Gül were being questioned; we were expecting to see an independent judge, but the judge had already made his decision way before we entered the room.
We have looked at the national and the international norms, including the European human rights laws, the constitution, and the national laws concerning their case, because they were arrested in a strange manner that didn’t match any other similar case. What they actually did is that they said the state is committing a crime; they said that the state is sending weapons to Syria…
First, it was denied, and then the prime minister said that the state is sending humanitarian aid. Later, the deputy prime minister, Tuğrul Türkeş, swore that no weapon had been sent to the Turkmens, and now they are saying that the weapons were sent to the Turkmens. The president said he gave the order to send the weapons… According to the constitution, the president is undutiful, so who will accuse the president?
And why is it alright to send weapons to the Turkmens? Does this country belong only to a certain race, or is it for all citizens? There are Armenians, Assyrians, Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmens in the very same region, but why are we helping only a single side? Does the National Intelligence organization have the right to send weapons to Syria? Surely NO… So when the state is committing a crime like increasing the tensions in Syria, we want the judiciary to reveal it; and if it is not doing so, since it is controlled by the state…then the press shall do it. However, the president is suppressing the reporters and obliging them to respect the limits he has set.
There is no democracy in a country where the press is not enjoying its freedom. Even if you [the Justice and Development Party, or AKP] have more than 317 members in parliament, even if you declare him as president for this country, it doesn’t mean that you are practicing democracy.
Today’s news says that a secret decision was taken concerning Tahir Elçi’s case. If there is secrecy in such decisions then there is a crime that is being covered up, as you did with Hrant Dink, and with the Ankara and Suruç bombings.
An AKP representative argued in defense of the secrecy surrounding Elçi’s case by giving the example of what the French authorities did during the recent Paris attacks. Paylan’s answer was: “In France, the prosecutor revealed the decisions of the investigations on the very same day the attack happened; they said it was ISIS. But you, you all [pointing at the AKP members] manipulated these crimes by hiding the truth. We will not allow you to hide the truth behind Tahir Elçi’s death and we will support Can Dündar and Erdem Gül to free the press.”
Below is the video of Paylan’s speech in Parliament: