Armenians, along with many non-Armenians, well know the tragic story of Hrant Dink. The editor of the Turkish-Armenian Agos embraced his Armenian ethnicity as well as his Turkish citizenship even while criticizing his government’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide. In January 2007, a 17-year-old assassin gunned him down on the steps of the newspaper’s office. His murder sparked mass demonstrations by Armenians and progressive Turks and still prompts questions of the government’s involvement in the slaying.
Today, nearly 10 years later, Armenians fear for the safety of Garo Paylan – a Turkish parliamentarian of Armenian descent who May 2 was physically attacked by members of the ruling AK Party during a parliamentary committee hearing. A YouTube video shows the young legislator, seemingly trapped within the well of committee floor, as AKP officials hurl racial slurs and threats at him.
The incident came about simply because Mr. Paylan disagreed with the AKP’s trumped-up charges that his reformist People’s Democratic Party (HDP in Turkish) participated in violent acts. Such accusations may result in the loss of parliamentary immunity for HDP members. Mr. Paylan has taken up the great mantle of justice left by Mr. Dink. Let’s just hope he does not meet Mr. Dink’s fate.
Raffi Pilavian, Fresno