Turkish prosecutors have filed a motion to strip an Armenian lawmaker of his parliamentary immunity over his outspoken criticism of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Invoking Article 301 of the Turkish penal code — which states that “insulting the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish nation or Turkish government institutions” is punishable by a prison sentence — the prosecutor’s office of Diyarbakir began proceedings against Garo Paylan, who was elected in 2015 to Turkey’s Grand National Assembly as a member of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Since that time, Paylan has been targeted by Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Last March, for example, Paylan and fellow HDP members were physically attacked by a group of AKP lawmakers for speaking out against Turkey’s “ethnic cleansing” of the Kurds in Afrin, Syria. The following day, Paylan tweeted:
“Last night at the parliament, the AKP members tried to lynch us. They show their barbarism everywhere. We will continue to resist the fascists and we will win.”
In May 2017, Erdogan watched as 12 of his guards beat up protestors in Washington, DC. Last July, all but seven indictments against the guards had quietly been dropped.