HDP deputy Paylan may lose immunity due to remarks on 1915 incidents

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French president Emmanuel Macron (2nd R) shakes hands with Turkish politician of Armenian descent and member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Garo Paylan (L) next to CCAF co-president Ara Toranian (2nd L) and Murat Papazian (R) as they both attend the annual dinner of CCAF (Co-ordination Council of Armenian organisations of France) in Paris on January 30, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Christophe Petit Tesson

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) İstanbul deputy Garo Paylan, who is of Armenian origin, faces the risk of losing his parliamentary immunity as Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation and prepared a summary of proceedings against him due to his remarks on the mass killings of Armenians during the final days of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish media reports said on Thursday.

The investigation into Paylan was launched based on Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which concerns insulting the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish government and the Turkish president.

Paylan’s reference to the 1915 incidents as a genocide and saying that there is still an ongoing genocide in Turkey in an interview with the Horizon Weekly, an Armenian Canadian publication, prompted the investigation into him, according to the summary of proceedings drafted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Turkey categorically rejects the term “genocide” to describe the deaths of up to 1.5 million Christian Armenians in World War I in what is now eastern Turkey. Many Armenians and historians say the Ottoman government pursued a deliberate policy of genocide.

With an amendment made to the TCK in 2008, securing permission from the Justice Ministry was made obligatory to launch investigations into individuals based on Article 301 of the TCK.

The Justice Ministry has allowed an investigation into Paylan to proceed.

The prosecution of members of Parliament has been possible since the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lent support to a 2016 proposal submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on removing deputies’ immunity from prosecution.

The immunity of all deputies who face investigation was lifted in May 2016.

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