Turkish-Armenian deputy presses charges against pro-Turkish think tank

Garo Paylan, deputy chairman of the pro-Kurdish left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), announced that he pressed charges against a think tank for targeting the Turkish Armenian deputy in full-page newspaper adverts, Turkey’s Armenian newspaper Agos reported on Friday.

“Me and my party have been made into targets with the adverts published under the ASAM signature,” Paylan said, referring to the think tank Centre for Eurasian Strategic Studies (ASAM), founded by centre-right opposition Good Party (İYİP) politician Ümit Özdağ. “HDP and its representatives have always defended peace. We will always stand against war in domestic and foreign policy, and in every aspect of life and politics.”

In an apparent reference to previous attacks on Armenians in Turkey, including the murder of Agos editor-in-chief Hrant Dink in 2007, Paylan said:

“I see that certain groups have taken action to silence me. I know what these statements mean, very well. Despite that, I will not abdicate my responsibility to stop wars. ASAM and other such organisations will be as responsible as the government if I suffer any type of attacks.”

In a full-page advert published on several newspapers, ASAM called on Armenia to end what it called the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, expressed support for “the Turkish government standing by its Azerbaijani brothers in their righteous cause,” and condemned allegations that Turkey had sent weapons and Syrian militiamen to aid Azerbaijan, while calling HDP a terrorist organisation and a traitor. Paylan was mentioned by name in the adverts, as he was accused of having “dishonourably accusing Turkey and backing Armenia in a document of treason.”

Paylan in turn mentioned the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 20 -which states, “Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law”- and accused the Turkish government of favouring conflict, open hostility to Armenia, and taking a pro-war stance together with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), with which Özdağ was formerly affiliated.

Last week, the Armenian deputy expressed solidarity with the Armenian and Azeri peoples, and condemned “the government of my country for pouring fuel to the flames,” in a televised interview. Paylan said Turkey had been the only country to support the war, in another interview.