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Armenian deputy takes punishment over ‘genocide’ remark to top court

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Garo Paylan, a deputy of Armenian origin who was recently banned from parliamentary sessions for three days for using the word “genocide” to describe incidents that took place in 1915, filed an individual application at the Constitutional Court alleging that his freedom of speech had been violated.

Paylan, who is from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was banned from parliamentary sessions for three days last week after delivering a speech in Parliament criticizing government plans to introduce an executive presidency.

Presenting examples from history to support his argument that late Ottoman era officials such as Talat Pasha and Enver Pasha eliminated a pluralist constitution, Paylan said that during the chaos between 1913-23, four groups of people, namely Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians and Jews, were lost as a result of massacres and genocide. His remarks attracted strong criticism from deputies, some of whom who even accused him of treason.

The 1915 incidents refer to the killing of Anatolian Armenians during the days of World War I. While Armenia claims the killings were tantamount to genocide, Turkey categorically rejects the claim and says the killings were a result of the circumstances of the war.

On Monday, Paylan filed an individual application at the Constitutional Court on the grounds that his freedom of speech was violated in Parliament and that the punishment handed down against him runs contrary to the parliamentary bylaws.

Paylan said government deputies such as Yasin Aktay and Markar Esayan, who is also of Armenian origin, had previously used the word “genocide” in their speeches in Parliament but that they faced no sanctions.

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