OTTAWA, Canada—Armenian Member of Turkish Parliament and a founding member of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Garo Paylan on May 2 held a series of meetings in Ottawa and Montreal with Members of Parliament and various current and former Canadian officials, the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) reported.
After a brief meeting with Turkish and Kurdish academics and recent exiles from Turkey, Paylan was hosted on Parliament Hill by Member of Parliament Arnold Chan of Scarborough-Agincourt, where he met a large group Parliamentarians representing various political parties.
During his meetings, Paylan had the opportunity to provide an overview of the current political climate in Turkey, the aftermath of the constitutional referendum, and the ongoing uncertainty and concern regarding the rights and freedoms of minorities living in Turkey. Paylan also urged Canadian Parliamentarians to raise awareness about the current situation in Turkey and play a pivotal role in ensuring that our shared values of justice, democracy, equality, and human rights are upheld in the Republic of Turkey and around the world.
Later in the day, Paylan also had the opportunity to meet Canada’s former Minister of Justice and Attorney General and current head of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, the Honorable Irwin Cotler, where similar issues were raised and discussed.
On April 30 and May 1, thousands of activists and community members from Canada’s Armenian, Assyrian and Kurdish communities gathered in Toronto and Montreal respectively, at special community events featuring Paylan. At both events, Paylan was welcomed with standing ovations. During the events, he stressed the importance of acknowledging history, specifically in regards to the Armenian Genocide, stating, “unpunished crimes lead to new crimes.”
Hagop Der Khatchadourian, President of the Armenian National Committee–International Council, who was accompanying Garo Paylan in his Ottawa meetings stated: “After tremendously successful community events in Toronto and Montreal, Mr. Paylan urged the Canadian political representatives, at the legislative and executive levels, to not be simple bystanders to Turkey’s downward spiral towards full dictatorship. He expected Canada to play the active role of an unbiased mediator, protector of minorities and proponent of true democracy and diversity.”
“Many politicians admired Mr. Paylan’s principled and forceful stance and expressed concern for his safety. As a committed advocate of justice and human rights and despite the risks, Garo refuses to stay silent or succumb to the fear-mongering of President Erdogan and his cohorts. Mr. Paylan is a true worldwide symbol of courage and determination, and not just for Armenians,” added Der Khatchadourian.
The ANCC praised Paylan’s courage and highlighted the significance of his visit to Canada in a statement released on May 4. “Mr. Paylan’s presence and exceptional remarks were an inspiration to the entire community and particularly to the upcoming generations who vowed to carry on the torch in the collective struggle of the Armenian people around the world… his appeal goes beyond just the Armenians; hence, many Kurds, Assyrians and representatives of other ethnocultural communities attended the events as well,” read a part of the ANCC statement.
Prior to joining the parliament, Paylan served in the central committee of the HDP and also served on the management board of the Armenian schools in Istanbul.