Turkish Parliament Members May be Punished for Using ‘Armenian Genocide’

Turkey Grand National Assembly
Turkey Grand National Assembly

Turkey Grand National Assembly

ANKARA—Members of the Turkish Parliament could face sanctions and monetary damages if they use the terms “Armenian Genocide” or “Kurdistan,” according to a draft bill proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

According to Hurriyet Daily News, the two parties have recommended the measure as part of an 18-article bill overhauling the internal code of conduct of the parliament expected to be discussed by the legislature next week.

The AKP argued that the changes were necessary to overcome what it says are opposition parties’ efforts to slow down the legislative process.

If the bill passes, members of parliament who describe Turkey’s southeastern region as “Kurdistan,” and provinces in this region as “Kurdish provinces” will also be punished.

The bill proposed that members who use these terms be barred from three General Assembly sessions and lose two thirds of their salary, which is around 16,000 Turkish Liras.

Before enacting such a rule, however, the Turkish Parliament in January suspended Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish parliament representing the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) after he spoke about the Armenian Genocide during legislative debate for the now approved Turkish constitution.

In his speech, which angered the AKP members, Paylan said the from 1913 to 1923 the Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and Jews registered in the country were “exiled from these lands or subjected to tortures as a result of large massacres and genocide.”

“At one time we comprised 40 percent of the population,” Paylan said at the time despite an uproar by AKP members. “Today we are one among 1000. Something happened to us, and I call it genocide whatever you call it. The Armenian people know very well what happened to them. I know very well what happened to my father, grandfather. Let’s face [history] together,” he added.

At the time the leadership of the HDP called the punishment a “clear violation of freedom of expression that simultaneously delineates the limits of ‘acceptable’ speech at the Turkish parliament.”

Paylan appealed the parliament’s punishment to the Constitutional Court, which rejected  his request. He has since vowed to take this case to the European Court of Human Rights.

AKP and MHP members “verbally assaulted” Paylan for using the word “genocide” during his speech and “forced him to apologize.”

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