An Interview with Selina Doghan on Turkey’s Elections

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Selina Doghan is an Armenian member of the
Turkish Parliament representing the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Interview by
Arevelk.am
, edited by the Armenian Assembly of
America.

1. Can you comment on these elections,
especially since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) secured a surprising
victory? Do you think that the results mean a victory for AKP?

Since the last elections, we passed through an extraordinary period.
The president didn’t accept or respect the electors’ will and forced the public
into a re-election. He exhausted the alternative coalition and used cruel
methods to regain sole power and not share it.

We lost around 900 people in various attacks in the last 4 months.
The economy is suffering. We couldn’t even mourn together after the massacres
because part of society is demonized against the other.

It is important to note that the rule of law is seldom
respected.  Freedom of expression,
freedom of the press, the nonpartisan status of the presidency of the republic
are hardly respected
.  All this was done
for the election of 400 deputies. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
personally confessed it in a TV program.
Only 20 % of the public has any trust in the judicial system. AKP has
managed to sway the public opinion to gain votes. It wasn’t hard for them since
they are dominating almost the half media and the juridical system in Turkey.
 

After all the attacks, they managed to lump the Kurdistan Workers
Party (PKK), Democratic Union Party (PYD), Islamic State of Iraq and Damascus (IŞID),
and People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the same magic box. They strongly
emphasized religion and nationalism in their speech. The average AKP voter
believes that PKK is the reason behind the Ankara massacre. They aren’t even
questioning what IŞID is looking for in our country and how that would put our
lives at risk. The AKP took hostage society’s mind and moral conscience.

They attacked media groups and twitter accounts, imprisoning
whoever criticized President Erdoğan in Turkey. They pumped hate speech to all
“others” and encouraged illegal activity by the police against all
types of oppositional manifestation, sometimes including peaceful
demonstrations.

So, yes. It is a big victory for them because they managed to apply
the illusion very successfully. They are pretending that coalitions are cruel; without
a government with one party as sole power Turkey would live in a chaos; and the
economy is suffering because AKP is not the governing party.

They didn’t even expect such a result themselves. None of the
investigative companies could assume this result. In addition to this, the
Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) understandable policy served them well.

2. After the elections, will AKP be able to
form a government alone? Will it put an end to the political crisis which
started on June 7?

Yes, according to the arithmetical result, they have enough votes to
govern alone. But fortunately, not enough to establish the presidential system.
If AKP doesn’t handle the solution process regarding the Kurds question, I’m
afraid in the short term we won’t reach a convenient solution to reestablish
the rule of law and the democratic mechanisms again.

3. What projects and plans do you have, as an
Armenian parliament member from the CHP party, especially now that you are one
of the Armenians who, for the first time, entered the Turkish parliament?

My challenges remain the same, actually. As an Armenian deputy,
of course, I will fight against all kinds of discrimination and human rights
violations. But, I wouldn’t like to be limited to my identity. I’m Armenian,
but a deputy of Turkey. So, my responsibility concerns every citizen in Turkey.
In this sense, I feel that my duty is harder now because unfortunately the
polarization increased deeply in the last 4 months. Today, whoever is not an
AKP supporter is considered an “other.”

4. Armenian-Turkish relations have been in a
coma for a long time. In this context, do you see positive signs? Do you expect
a positive change in the relations?

Please let me correct your question. Turkey’s foreign policy is in a coma!  The European Union process has
been almost frozen, as well as our relations with the Middle East.

As a deputy of the opposition party, my duty is to establish
positive bridges between two people. As you may remember, the first day after being
officially elected I encouraged Turkey not to demonize the Armenian diaspora.
They are Turkey’s diaspora, as the prime minister mentioned on his way back
from Armenia
, and they are not our enemies. They are Anatolian people in a Turkish
nostalgia. We should find a way to gain their trust.  As CHP, we even
inserted in our election book to return nationalities to those who lost it as a
result of forced migrations. Also, I am ready to work for the borders to be
opened.

My candidature and existence in both the party and the parliament
made a positive change in the party and towards public opinion. As long as we communicate
with each other and respect our fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression,
we can make big changes in policy.

5. Do you think that the clashes with PKK and
other organizations will continue after the elections? Or will there be a
solution?

AKP used the PKK attacks against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)
and tried to marginalize them. As a result, those HDP voters who used to be AKP,
CHP or even MHP voters doubted the Kurds practicing civil politics in
parliament. In addition to all the facts I mentioned above, electors voted for
“stability.”

So it all depends how the AKP will handle the solution and peace
process again this time.

Three Armenians Elected to Turkey’s Parliament in Historic Vote

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(Garo Paylan, Selina Dogan, Markar Esayan)

By Nick Rejebian (@nrejebbs), Assembly Public
Affairs Intern

AAANews Blog

 

June
9, 2015

With
86% of Turkey at the ballot box on Sunday, three Christian Armenian candidates,
Garo Paylan, Selina Dogan, and Markar Esayan, were elected to the Turkish
Parliament.

Garo
Paylan, a founding member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was elected
in the Istanbul 3rd Region. Born in Malatya in 1972 and raised in
Istanbul, Paylan began working humbly as a manager at Armenian schools. Since
the HDP’s founding in 2012, Paylan aided its growth as a member of the party’s
central executive committee. In Sunday’s election, Paylan competed for one of
31 regional seats; and with HDP receiving 14% of the vote and five seats,
Paylan won the 2nd seat.

Selina
Dogan, of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), is the first elected
Armenian female deputy Member of Parliament, representing Istanbul’s 2nd
Region. Born in Istanbul in 1977, Dogan rose quickly in academia as she pursued
her Faculty of Law from Galatasaray University, and completed her graduate
studies at the Informations University. With 26 regional seats at stake, the
CHP won 27% of the votes. Of these eight seats, Ms. Dogan was elected to the 1st
seat garnering the most votes of the CHP in the district.

Finally,
Markar Esayan, a member of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) competed in
Istanbul’s 2nd region. Born in 1969 in Istanbul, Esayan began
writing for the bi-lingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos in 1997, and left the pro-AKP daily newspaper Yeni Safak to run for parliament. Esayan
is also a published novelist having written five books since 2005. For the 2015
election, the AKP won 42% of the vote in the Istanbul’s 2nd region
thus earning 12 of the 26 seats. Esayan was elected to the 12th
seat.  

An
estimated 70,000 Armenians live in Turkey today, and with the Turkish
population around 78 million Armenians make up less than 0.01%. The Armenian community
in Turkey now has three individuals, proud of their heritage, representing them
in the Turkish parliament. The question is, will the voices of the suppressed finally
be heard in what promises to be the beginning of a new liberal democracy in
Turkey?

 

Nicholas
Rejebian is an intern with the Armenian Assembly for America’s Terjenian-Thomas
Summer Internship Program in Washington, DC. A native of Evanston, Illinois,
Nicholas studies Political Science and Economics at Dickinson College.