Turkish-Armenian MP critical of persecutions against ethnic minorities

15:32 • 12.08.16

After the failed coup attempt in Turkey, an increasing wave of persecutions has mounted across the country, targeting also the ethnic Armenians, says Selina Doğan, a Turkish lawmaker of Armenian descent.

In an interview with Tert.am, the politician, who represents the  Republican People's Party (CHP) in the Turkish parliament, said their political force has created a state of urgency commission to help people.

After the coup attempt we observe a tense situation in Turkey; a lot of people are being arrested and persecuted. How will you describe the situation in the country now? How does the society feel?

In a country where the culture of democracy is disturbed many times by the coup attempts, large crowds of people went out for the first time to "stop" the coup. Although those people were mostly AKP supporters, I still find it very important. However, this "standing against" turned into a nationalist and Islamist discourse. The mass demonstrations organized by the governing party are still controlling the street. The government is using of this very legitimate attitude like resisting the coup for consolidating its power. That is our concern.  

You are a member of a Turkish opposition party. After the coup attempt, President Erdoğan  met with the head of your political force. What is your opinion of the meeting? Do you think Erdoğan will collaborate with opposition parties now that the coup attempt has failed? After so many arrests of people who are opposed to the government’s work is there any danger that members of opposition parties will be the “victims” of Erdogan’s power?


It is absolutely normal that a government victim of a coup attempt tentatively takes certain measures to protect itself. But the problem is that the current government is using those circumstances to consolidate its power. We, as CHP, are opposed to a state of urgency. Because by doing this, they exclude the Parliament. Actually this was one of the aims of the coup attempt actors. However, all the opposition parties reacted the same way against the coup. Which means all the parties would agree to take the necessary legal measures in parliament. So the fact that the government ignored this is a result of the totalitarian regime they have imposed so far.

In Turkish they say "to show the death and convince with the malaia" By making the public opinion discuss the death penalty, they try to satisfy us with the malaia. However the solution is clear. It is only by developing democratic mechanisms that we can fight military coups undermining democracy. The AKP doesn't want the coup attempt to be discussed in parliament, because the FETO organization is mostly installed in the state positions in the AKP period. Many of the public institutions are somehow delivered to this terror organization. The principle of merit is ignored when hiring people for jobs. Governors used to elongate Fetullah Gülen. Actually they were like a coalition. Can you imagine that a president of republic becomes aware of a coup by its brother-in-law! They know all the details about the opponents! But they have no idea about a coup attempt. The government has to make a very deep self-criticism. The AKP is a pragmatist political party. From time to time, they can get closer to certain fractions of the population. But according to the conjuncture, they can change their attitude. So far, they have been pursuing a policy of polarization. Right after the coup, there has been a different political atmosphere. Political parties are "getting closer". The president of republic took the imitative for a consensus and united all the parties apart from HDP. I found this a very big political and anti-democratic shame. Yes, apparently Turkey needs a social agreement, but we have serious concerns regarding the way it is continuing. So the AKP must assure the public opinion to not come back to its polarizing policies. As CHP, we have founded a state of urgency commission. There are many victims of abuses, including Armenian community members. I am trying to prove their innocence together with my colleagues.

You have raised the issue of minorities’ safety in the political atmosphere that has been dominating the country after the military coup attempt. What challenges do you now see for the ethnic minorities, especially the Armenians? What problems are these, and what kind of solutions do you suggest?

Since June the 7 2015, I have raised many issues regarding minorities’ structural problems. But unfortunately, we haven’t had convenient circumstances to discuss them in a healthy environment. Since then, Turkey has been passing through an extraordinary period. An early election, fight with terrorism in the east of Turkey, dozens of terror attacks , a change of cabinet, international and EU crises, debate over the presidential system, constitutional crisis, non-functionality of parliament... In such circumstances, as I have already mentioned, the government used a polarizing nationalist discourse to strengthen its power which affected not only religious minorities but also anyone who is not an AKP supporter. So I emphasized in my speech that a relatively compromising atmosphere  could be an opportunity to discuss minorities’ problems. It would also be a strong message to the world. This is something we have really been missing for a long time. I pointed out to the parliament’s role in this matter. To keep this atmosphere going, it is absolutely important for everybody, but especially ethnic and religious minorities, to feel first of all safe.

Hripsime Hovhannisyan


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