‘Turkish AKP govt deputies in fear for their lives’ says HDP lawmaker Paylan

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul Garo Paylan at the Turkish Grand National Assembly

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul deputy Garo Paylan has said many ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers are unhappy with the course the AKP is taking in the constitutional referendum, but that they fear for their lives and have been threatened. Paylan said AKP supporters did not approve of their party “tagging along behind the MHP.”

“A great part of the 50 percent of AKP voters do not approve of a unitarian racist ideology,” Paylan said in an interview to Turkish news outlet T24. “People used to say that the MHP [Nationalist Action Party] was tagging along behind the AKP but it’s the AKP that has tagged along behind the MHP.”

Istanbul-born Armenian deputy Paylan, in trouble last month for having brought up the “large massacres (and) genocides” of Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and Jews in parliament leading to a temporary suspension, said many AKP deputies are unhappy with recent events in the country and change of course their party has taken but that they are silent for fear of reprisals.

“There are even those who fear for their lives,” Paylan said. “They know that they can’t say that ‘The Emperor has no clothes’ since anything could happen to them if they did.”

Paylan also raised questions about the nationalist “Turkist-Islamist” political movement and said it has “a seesaw way of sometimes playing the Islamist card and sometimes the Turkist.”

“They are saying, ‘We will return to the old codes of the state. We will put Turkish nationalism at the forefront. We will declare those who object as traitors. We will throw them in jail or force them into exile’. This is the ideology”, the HDP lawmaker said.

“This was their position 100 years ago. We saw the results of that,” Paylan said, referring to the persecutions of Christians.

Turkey will go to a national referendum on 16 April for an 18-article reform to the current constitution, which will shift executive powers from the prime minister to the president.