Armenian HDP MP Paylan files charges against nationalist MP over death threat

Armenian HDP deputy Garo Paylan has filed a criminal complaint against Turkish politician Ümit Özdağ for incitement of the people, threats and insults, among other things. The background is a threatened "genocide experience".

Armenian HDP politician Garo Paylan has filed a criminal complaint against the non-factional member of parliament Ümit Özdağ. The 49-year-old faces a serious threat from Özdağ, who resigned from the IYI party - a split from the far-right MHP - in March over "differences on the nationalism issue." Paylan's complaint was made on the basis of charges of incitement to hatred, enmity or humiliation under Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code, incitement to commit a crime, insult and threat.

The background to HDP deputy Garo Paylan's complaint against nationalist politician Ümit Özdağ is the latter's threatened "Talat Pasha experience". Talat Pasha was the Minister of Interior in the Ottoman Empire and headed the Unity and Progress Committee. He is considered the main perpetrator and architect of the Young Turk genocide against Armenians, which claimed the lives of at least 1.5 million people between 1915 and 1918. Paylan had criticized on the occasion of the genocide commemoration day on April 24 that there are still schools and streets named after Talat Pasha in Turkey. The current situation in the country, he said, could be compared to post-war Germany, where educational institutions and streets would bear the name of Adolf Hitler.

In response, Paylan was berated by Özdağ on Twitter as an "impudent provocative guy" who should "run away to the bottom of hell." "Talat Paşa did not expel Armenians who love their fatherland, but people like you who attack from behind. You too should and will have an Talat Paşa experience in due course."

Culture of impunity

"Calls for violence against minorities open the way to hate crimes. Discrimination and hate speech should not go unpunished," Paylan said in Ankara on Wednesday. This is because it is the "culture of impunity" in Turkey that increases the rate of hate crimes against ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, he noted. In addition, he said, the government's "hostile attitude" toward other opinions and different existences encourages crimes like these and prevents effective investigation. However, Article 216, which is intended to protect against attacks on minorities and discrimination in general, is only resorted to in order to "suppress criticism of the rulers," Paylan said.

IHD also files charges

On Tuesday, the Commission against Racism and Discrimination of the Human Rights Association (IHD) had also filed a complaint against Özdağ. The complaint filed by lawyers Eren Keskin and Jiyan Kaya and activists Gülistan Yarkın, Meral Çıldır and Ayşe Günaysu with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office seeks criminal reprimands against Özdağ not only for threatening and inciting hatred, enmity or humiliation under Article 216. The complainants also allege a violation of the prohibition of discrimination under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.