Armenian-Turkish lawmaker targeted in newspaper ads for anti-war stance

Armenian-Turkish lawmaker Garo Paylan was targeted in newspaper ads published by the nationalist Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies (ASAM) think tank on Friday for comments he made about the ongoing clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The ads claimed that Paylan “shamelessly blamed Azerbaijan and Turkey and openly backed Armenia.” Describing the lawmaker’s words as “evidence of unacceptable treason,” ASAM called on the “independent judiciary” and the Turkish parliament to take “the necessary steps” about Paylan.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), of which Paylan is a member, was also openly targeted in the ads. Calling the HDP the “political offshoot of the PKK,” the ad labeled the party’s approach to the conflict as “treasonous.”

The PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party, is an armed secessionist group listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

ASAM’s ad said the Turkish nation would “never forgive those who try to create false perceptions against the Turkish government by spreading the ‘it is claimed that Turkey is sending arms and jihadist militants to fight in Azerbaijan’ narrative.”

In a statement HDP deputy Paylan said he has always stood by peace against “Turkey’s politics of war.” Describing the narrative used in the ad as warmongering, he said he and his colleagues would continue to defend peace. Paylan also said he would take the ad to court and called on “all individuals and institutions who believe in peace to raise their voices against politics of war.”

Following demonstrations in front of the Armenian Patriarchate in İstanbul, Paylan had warned the Turkish authorities against hate speech and crimes amid the recent clashes between Azerbaijan-Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

In a tweet that included a video of the demonstrations Paylan had said: “It is a provocation [by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government] to allow for such a demonstration on the street where the Armenian Patriarchate is located. I call on the government to take the necessary measures for our patriarchate and [Armenian] institutions. The result of hate speech is hate crime. Put an end to the politics of hate!”

The video showed protesters waving Azerbaijani and Turkish flags and chanting slogans in a convoy of cars on the patriarchate’s street in Istanbul’s Kumkapı neighborhood.

According a report by the Hrant Dink Foundation, Armenians were the most targeted group in the Turkish media in 2019 with 803 hate speech items. They have also been portrayed as enemies and associated with violence, terrorism and massacres in the context of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Armenians were also mentioned, together with the PKK, as divisive forces who target Turkey’s social cohesion and political unity.

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