ISTANBUL—On November 6, Heritage Party Chairman Raffi Hovannisian attended and addressed a special conference on Migration and Refugees organized by the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).
The meeting, which brought together 40 political parties from more than 25 countries, was co-sponsored by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party of Turkey.
Following inflammatory interventions by Azerbaijani and Turkish delegates, Hovannisian took the floor to present an Armenian perspective on historical and current developments in the region. He referred in particular to the unacceptability of the recent arrest of opposition MPs in Turkey and the crackdown on civil liberties which triggered flashbacks to 1915; the reality and legacy of the Armenian Genocide and Great National Dispossession of the Armenian and other peoples (Assyrians, Greeks, Kurds, Yezidis, and Alevis) as an unprecedented watershed in refugee creation; the Turkish official policy of denial and the untold story of thousands of righteous Turks who saved Armenian lives.
He underscored the tendency of states like Turkey and Azerbaijan to launch military activities in neighboring countries and then be compelled to manage refugee crises, seeking international support for their solution; Armenia’s experience with Syrian-Armenian refugees; Azerbaijan’s failed war of aggression against Mountainous Karabakh (Artsakh) and the 500,000 Armenians who were displaced from Azerbaijan, Nakhichevan and other occupied Armenian lands; the imperative to secure for all refugees and internally displaced persons a guaranteed and equitable right of return to their places of origin, including the return of Armenians to and the establishment of communal life in Azerbaijan, Nakhichevan, and the western Armenian heartland in current-day eastern Turkey; and the need to be self-critical in Turkey, Armenia, and all other countries and to take responsibility for developing just, democratic societies which are the only avenue to prevent non-conflict-driven emigration.
Upon completion of Hovannisian’s address, the vice chairman of the AK Party repeated Turkey’s denialist line and asked the reference to the word Genocide be deleted from the record. Hovannisian condemned this approach as an unacceptable, characteristic attempt at official censorship.