Because of my country’s authoritarian turn, my background and political leanings are enough to turn me into a target. On Oct. 5, the Eurasia Institute of Strategic Affairs, a nationalist outlet, published a full-page advertisement in support of Azerbaijan in Sabah, a newspaper with links to the Erdogan family. It was signed by former and current members of the Turkish Parliament from the A.K.P.
The advertisement in Sabah accused me of being pro-Armenian and of committing treason, calling on the Turkish judiciary and the Parliament to “fulfill its duty.” In the current Turkish political climate, it sounded like a call to remove my immunity — parliamentarians in Turkey have immunity from prosecution — so that I can be put on trial for my peacenik stance. Yet I have filed a legal complaint about the advertisers and continued to call for peace in the Caucuses.
As an Armenian from Turkey and a descendant of genocide survivors, I know very well the meaning of this message. In 2007, Hrant Dink, a celebrated and outspoken Armenian journalist from Istanbul, who edited the Agos newspaper, was assassinated by a Turkish nationalist in a similar period of heightened nationalism. Mr. Dink once described Turkey’s Armenian minority as “living with the trepidations of a dove.”
The darkness that engulfed Turkey seems to widen every day. In the past few weeks, dozens of my friends from the H.D.P., including Ayhan Bilgen, the elected mayor of Kars, on the border with Armenia, have been arrested on trumped-up terrorism charges, ostensibly for organizing street protests in 2014 across the country. The protests were a response to the government’s nonchalance in the face of the siege of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani by the Islamic State.
Seven H.D.P. parliamentarians, including me, are being accused of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” in an indictment, and a prosecutor is preparing to ask the Parliament to remove our immunity, which will then allow the police to arrest us. This was already done to Selahattin Demirtas, a former co-chairman of the H.D.P., and thousands of other H.D.P. members and officials who are in jail. It’s not hard to see that the political intention here is to paralyze our party — the third largest in Turkey — and weaken the opposition.
Despite the recent threats, I was encouraged by thousands of people calling, writing and gathering signatures expressing their support for me. The other day, someone cleaning the streets shouted at me, “My deputy, if they take you away one day and you cannot see us, know that we are here.” And I do.
You may wonder why we continue to struggle for democracy in this country. Things were not always so dark in Turkey. A decade ago, Turkey was a relatively promising democracy, on path for European Union membership and calling for regional peace. It coined the “zero problems with neighbors” policy, and at one point, we were even close to normalization of relations with Armenia.