The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has called upon U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass to publicly voice official U.S. concern regarding the safety of Garo Paylan, an ethnic Armenian elected to the Turkish Parliament, who has faced growing threats and acts of violence in response to his expression of views on democracy, human rights, and genocide.
In recent days, Paylan has been threatened and physically and assaulted within the Turkish Parliament and the Constitution Commission. Videos of these attacks have gone viral.
Paylan called the most recent attacks which took place during the May 2nd Turkish Parliament Constitution Commission hearing a “pre-meditated lynch attempt.” In a statement issued to the press following the altercation, Paylan explained that “AKP’s Istanbul MP Mehmet Metiner physically attacked me which initiated a planned lynch. Physical attacks increasingly continued and AKP’s MPs pointed out and targeted me by calling out as ‘Come over, Garo is here!’ and making remarks that amount to hate speech about my Armenian identity.“
In the May 3rd letter to Ambassador Bass, Executive Director Aram Hamparian recalled that, despite ANCA appeals, the U.S. government failed to voice any public concern for the safety of Hrant Dink, who was assassinated in early 2007 following a campaign of political prosecution and official state persecution. “Sadly, none was forthcoming,” Hamparian explained. “The only public words raised in his defense were those eulogizing him after his death.”
The full text of the ANCA letter is provided below:
Dear Ambassador Bass:
I am writing to encourage you to publicly express the concern of the United States regarding the safety of Garo Paylan, an elected member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. He has, as you know, been the target, in recent days and weeks, of both threats and acts of physical violence in response to his free expression of views regarding democracy, tolerance, and human rights issues.
During the tenure of U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson, the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was murdered after a patently political prosecution, official state persecution, and the relentless incitement of hatred directed against him due to his honest discourse about the Armenian Genocide. Prior to his cold-blooded murder, the ANCA had called for an open expression of U.S. concern for his safety. Sadly, none was forthcoming. The only public words raised in his defense were those eulogizing him after his death.
In light of this tragic experience, now is clearly the time for our government to urgently and publicly voice concern for the safety of Garo Paylan, and to also condemn those – both inside and outside of the Turkish government – who are inciting hatred against this courageous civic leader for simply speaking honestly and openly about issues of human rights, tolerance, diversity, and genocide.
We would welcome the opportunity to engage with you further on this matter and look forward to your public remarks on this issue.