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Opposition MP to file complaint over hate speech targeting Armenians in street interview

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An opposition lawmaker has announced that he will file a complaint against a woman who said in a street interview conducted in Turkey that she would kill 20 Armenians if she knew she wouldn’t be punished for it, local media reported on Friday.

In the interview, conducted by the “Denizli Mikrofon” YouTube channel, random people on the street were asked what would they do if they knew they wouldn’t be punished for it.

A woman answered: “I would cut off the heads of 20 Armenians. Yes, and I wouldn’t feel bad about it.”

The interviewer then asked where she was from, to which the woman said she was from Azerbaijan.

Sharing the video of the interview on Twitter, Garo Paylan, a member of parliament of Armenian descent from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said on Thursday he was filing a criminal complaint against the woman for using hate speech targeting Armenians.

The video began circulating on social media after the six-week war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region that killed thousands before it ended on Nov. 10, 2020, with a ceasefire brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The deal allowed Azerbaijan to keep significant territory it had captured and required Armenia to hand over other areas, but left the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert, under Armenian control, protected by Russian peacekeepers.

Paylan has warned multiple times against hate speech and war propaganda targeting the Armenian minority in Turkey, which he thought were intentionally being escalated the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been vocal in his diplomatic support for Azerbaijan.

Although there are some news reports suggesting that Turkish officers played a key part in guiding drone attacks, which played a decisive role in the conflict, that has been denied by Ankara, the BBC said in a report.

In the early days of the Azerbaijan-Armenian clashes in September, the lawmaker had also called on the AKP to “put an end to the politics of hate” after an “AKP provocation to allow for 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,” the deputy warned at the time.

Armenians were the most targeted minority group in terms of hate speech in the Turkish media in 2019, a report by the Hrant Dink Foundation revealed. Armenians were targeted 803 times, out of 5,515 incidents of hate speech in local and national media, in 2019, according to the report, titled “Media Watch on Hate Speech.”

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