Garo Paylan to Receive ANCA-WR Freedom Award; Will Speak at Grassroots Conference

(Asbarez). Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), will receive the Freedom Award at the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region’s Annual Gala Banquet on Sunday, October 8 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.

“Garo Paylan is a true modern-day Armenian hero who fearlessly and courageously speaks truth to power as he seeks justice for Armenians everywhere directly from the Turkish government. He is a worthy recipient of the ANCA’s most prestigious Freedom Award, and our community is eager to honor him for his ongoing bravery and to hear him speak at the ANCA-WR Grassroots Conference as well,” remarked ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian.

Past ANCA-WR Freedom Award recipients include the Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan, U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), German Green Party Co-Leader Cem Özdemir, and the Grammy-nominated rock band System of a Down.

During the same weekend, Paylan will also speak at the ANCA-WR’s biennial Grassroots Conference, which this year will take place on October 6 and 7 at the Pasadena Convention Center. This year’s conference will, once again, bring together experts in politics, law, the arts and media who make presentations on a variety of topics ranging from legal avenues to reparations, political and legislative actions, community organizing, and advocacy through film & the arts.

Participation in the conference is free, but pre-registration is required.

Paylan was elected into Turkey’s Grand National Assembly on June 7, 2015, as the representative of Istanbul’s 3rd electoral district. He is one of the founding members of the HDP, the progressive pro-minority party. Paylan is one of three current Armenian members of the Turkish Parliament, the first to be elected in decades.

With roots in Malatyan, Paylan is also a member of Turkey’s Armenian community and has long been an activist for human rights, Kurdish and Armenian issues. Before being elected to parliament, Paylan served on the central committee of HDP, as well as the management board of the Armenian schools in Istanbul. He has long promoted bilingual education and minority rights in Turkey and has been actively engaged in raising awareness on discrimination toward minorities, the rights of the Armenian community in Turkey especially after the Hrant Dink’s murder.

Since taking office, Paylan has been an outspoken advocate of Armenian Genocide recognition in Turkey, and has vehemently fought against Armenian Genocide denial. On April 21, 2016, Paylan displayed the photographs and names of numerous Ottoman-era Armenian politicians who were murdered, arrested, or exiled during the Armenian Genocide. Paylan condemned the murder of the Armenian politicians, calling upon the Turkish state to come to terms with its violent past. Following this event, members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) physically and verbally targeted Paylan during a parliamentary meeting, instigating a brawl-type altercation.

Despite violent attacks, hate speech, and temporary suspension from Parliament, Garo Paylan continues to fight for the Armenian Cause, and is neither intimidated nor discouraged by the obstacles presented by the ruling factions of the Turkish government.

Individuals interested in attending the banquet are encouraged to contact the ANCA-WR office at (818) 500-1918 or learn more from the ANCA-WR website.