On the anniversary of the historical mass arrest of Armenians on 24 April 1915, that marked the beginning of the Armenian genocide resulting in the total elimination of the Armenian people from the Ottoman Empire, MP Garo Paylan introduced a bill into the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) calling for the legal recognition of the genocide.
Paylan’s bill was rejected by the Speaker of the Turkish parliament on Saturday.
He laid out the grounds for his bill as follows:
“The Great Calamity of the Armenian people must be discussed and named, and justice for it secured in the Turkish parliament, which is the place where this must happen. If this does happen, what the heads or parliamentarians of other states say on the subject will no longer be of any significance. The only community that can heal the wounds of the Armenian people is the Turkish community, and the only body that can do it is the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The Armenian genocide occurred in these lands and justice can only be secured in these lands, in Turkey.
“The Armenians were a people with a significant population among the ethnic and religious groups living in the Ottoman Empire. As the junta consisting of Talat Pasha, Enver Pasha and Cemal Pasha were breaking up the Ottoman Empire with the aim of creating a nation based on a single character, they decided to exile peoples who were not Muslims.
“The forced exile and massacres , which started on 24 April 1915 with the arrest of around 250 Armenian intellectuals and thinkers, continued with the Temporary Deportation Law issued on 27 May 1915, and concluded with the Armenian people being driven en masse from their historic home lands and a vast majority of them being murdered near to where they lived or on the journey into exile.
“The Armenians qualify what happened to them with such terms as Medz Yeghern (Great Crime) and Aghed (Calamity). […] The Armenians who survived the genocide have been fighting for 107 years for justice.
“Numerous international states and parliaments have recognised the Armenian genocide. But this has not healed the wounds of the Armenian people. Millions of Armenian Anatolian victims of the massacre, over three generations, have died without ever experiencing the taste of justice.
“As part of the policy of denial, the names of state officials of the period who perpetrated the massacre, and in particular that of the lead perpetrator Talat Pasha, have been given to public squares, streets, parks and schools in the four corners of Turkey. Whereas the names and memories of conscientious state officials such as Hüseyin Nesimi governor of Lice, Ali Faik Bey governor of Kütahya, Celal Bey governor of Konya and Mehmet Hüsnü Efendi mufti (religious legal expert) of Boğazlıyan, who stood against the massacres and paid the price, have been erased from the public memory.
“The removal of the names of the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide from public places would contribute to community healing. If the name of Hitler were given to the streets, squares and schools in Germany, what kind of a Germany would it be today? In this context, the removal of names of perpetrators of the genocide, like Talat Pasha, who caused peoples in these lands to be annihilated, from public places and official institutions as they did in Argentina, would be a significant step on the road to a democratic Turkey securing community peace.
“The massacre which started in these lands in 1915 is still perpetuated by the the fact that justice has not been served.
“The Grand National Assembly of Turkey must, in keeping with the facts, give the name the Great Calamity to the experiences of the Armenian people, and it must recognise the great crime, and in order that the victims achieve justice, albeit 107 years after the event, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey must accept responsibility for the Armenian massacre.
“With this bill I introduce into the Assembly in the 107th year of the Armenian genocide, I call for recognition of the Armenian genocide, for the removal of the names of those responsible for the genocide from public places, for the renaming of those places instead after public officials who stood up against the genocide, and for the granting of citizenship of the Turkish Republic to the victims and their families.”