Garo Paylan, a Turkish MP of Armenian descent from the pro-Kurdish left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), proposed a law to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, reports Ahval News.
Paylan called the events of 1915 the “Great Calamity” in his speech in Turkish parliament on Saturday, arguing for the mass deportation and death of some 1.5 million Armenians under the World War I-afflicted Ottoman Empire to be recognized as genocide.
The Armenian lawmaker has family members personally affected by the mass deportations.
“Orphans like my grandmother passed from this world without seeing justice delivered,” Paylan said. “As did the second-generation (of survivors), my father. As a third-generation Armenian from Turkey, I seek justice in Turkey, in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.”
“The Armenian Genocide happened on these lands, and justice for the Armenian Genocide can only be achieved on these lands, in Turkey,” Paylan said.
Turkey confronting the genocide would “remove the significance of what any other parliament says”, he added. “The matter continues to be a topic in other parliaments, for other presidents, because for 106 years the Armenian Genocide has been denied.”
Turkey maintains that the Ottoman-era deaths occurred under wartime conditions without planning or forethought, and were at a much lower scale than the academic near-consensus of 1.5 million Christians.
“No one has benefited from the discussions which in fact must be made by historians but have been politicized by third parties and turned into a tool of intervention against our country,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a statement addressing the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, Sahak Mashalian, on Saturday. “I believe that building our identity solely upon the pains left by the past to our souls is also a grave injustice to new generations.”
On the same day, following a phone call with Erdoğan, U.S. President Joe Biden officially recognized the events as genocide, sparking condemnation from Ankara.