ISTANBUL—In what has become a regular occurrence in the Turkish Parliament, a brawl began on Monday, this time targeting Garo Paylan, the Turkish-Armenian legislator from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who says he was targeted for being Armenian.
The fight was instigated by members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Monday as the parliament’s Constitutional Commission was debating whether to strip pro-Kurdish deputies of their immunity.
“It is evident that the members of AKP had targeted me in advance as several of its representatives attacked me in a coordinated manner,” Paylan told bianet.org, adding that the attacks were accompanied with racist epithets.
Paylan said that the AKP members attacked him after he dismissed the announcement by the Justice Minister of Turkey who claimed that the pro-Kurdish HDP members had abused other parliament members during a previous session.
“I just said that no, it is not the case, which was followed by the attacks of 10-15 people. The attack had been planned in advance, and the reason was that I am an ethnic Armenian. I have posted that footage in social media. Those interested can watch it and judge for themselves,” Paylan said adding that the attackers shouted “Garo is here. Garo is here.”
Paylan, who said he was beaten around 100 times, said he found it futile to appeal his case, since the parliament judiciary committee is controlled by AKP members, who would not objectively review his claims.
“What they can’t digest is this: A person of Armenian heritage is calling them out on their lies and is a stand up person,” said Paylan. “They want to see Armenians obeying them. I as an Armenia putting up a fight for rights and I have been targeted and subjected to lynching.”
The parliament’s Constitutional Commission did adopt a measure to strip the pro-Kurdish members of their immunity. According to the HDP, the immunity bill was drafted and approved specifically to target them and to suppress opposition to the ruling regime.
The bill will be debated in the parliament’s General Assembly and then voted on in order to be put into practice. Reuters quoted senior AKP member Bulent Turan as saying that the ruling AKP wishes for the parliamentary debate to begin on May 16, and for the vote to take place by May 18.