Armenian Genocide Denial is Not a Crime, Says Human Rights Court

European Court of Human Rights

STRASBOURG—The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Dec. 17 that denial of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians as genocide falls under freedom of expression, following an appeal from a Turkish politician to his conviction in Switzerland, reported the Hurriyet Daily News.

Turkish Workers’ Party (İP) Chairman Dogu Perincek, who had described the Armenian genocide as an “international lie,” had complained that Swiss courts had breached his freedom of expression, based on Article 10 covering freedom of expression.

The ECHR ruling stated that “the free exercise of the right to openly discuss questions of a sensitive and controversial nature is one of the fundamental aspects of freedom of expression and distinguishes a tolerant and pluralistic democratic society from a totalitarian or dictatorial regime.”

“The December 17 decision by the European Court of Human Rights must be condemned because it opens the door to the spread of hatred under the veil of ‘freedom of expression,’ and can be deemed as a sad example of Armenian Genocide denial,” said a statement from the Political Affairs Office of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

“The fact that the court’s decision was not unanimous, signals that there is legal room to advance and change the decision. We must direct our efforts to that end,” added the ARF statement.

Meanwhile the Armenian National Committee offices in Europe, in conjunction with the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (ANC of Europe) are working with European legal officials on the matter and will issue relevant statements and actions items as they become available. Asbarez will is monitoring this developing story and will update its readers.

The original case emerged from Perincek’s participation in a number of conferences in Switzerland in 2005, during which he publicly denied that the Ottoman Empire had perpetrated the crime of genocide against the Armenian people in 1915.

The Lausanne Police Court found Perincek guilty of racial discrimination on March 9, 2007, based on the Swiss Criminal Code. After a complaint filed by the Switzerland-Armenia Association on July 15, 2005, the court found that Perincek’s motives were of a “racist tendency” and did not contribute to the historical debate.

“The Court underlined that the free exercise of the right to openly discuss questions of a sensitive and controversial nature was one of the fundamental aspects of freedom of expression and distinguished a tolerant and pluralistic democratic society from a totalitarian or dictatorial regime,” said the official ECHR press release.

“The Court also pointed out that it was not called upon to rule on the legal characterization of the Armenian genocide. The existence of a ‘genocide,’ which was a precisely defined legal concept, was not easy to prove. The Court doubted that there could be a general consensus as to events such as those at issue, given that historical research was by definition open to discussion and a matter of debate, without necessarily giving rise to final conclusions or to the assertion of objective and absolute truths,” added the ECHR release.

“Lastly, the Court observed that those States which had officially recognized the Armenian genocide had not found it necessary to enact laws imposing criminal sanctions on individuals questioning the official view, being mindful that one of the main goals of freedom of expression was to protect minority views capable of contributing to a debate on questions of general interest which were not fully settled,” explained the ECHR.

Perincek was handed an aggravated life sentence in the Ergenekon coup plot trial, as part of the Ergenekon network, which was ultimately acknowledged by the court as a terrorist organization that had attempted to overthrow the government.

The ECHR judgment is not final, and may be appealed by any party within a period of three months.

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34 Comments

  1. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    Human’’s Rights

    Do not seize me in your cave
    Open your door let me behave
    To see the world in its fight
    To try to protect every human right!

    Let me grasp a red pen in hot hands,
    Writing poems to justify rationales.
    Let me write to billions of inhumane breaths,
    Let them feel ashamed of sinful fights.

    Let the righteous rays shine on every-brain
    To guide spirits into the right light.
    Let harsh minds listen every night
    To symphonies praising humans’’ right.

    I am yours, always yours.
    No one can grab me by force.
    I like to scream very loud;
    Human rights are everyone’’s birth right.

    Let my voice, from the heartiest soul,
    Reach further than both polar sites.
    Let tears of the speakers on human rights
    Flows like waterfalls on starved lands.

    Don’’t hide me in an unsown cave,
    I’’m kind and heartily brave;
    I have genes to know every right,
    From sunshine to moon light.

    Let all raise the faithful flag of human rights,
    In the suppressed corners of ‘‘Crying Crowds’’
    To detect, narrate, yet prevent birthing crimes.
    Let slayers confess past deeds,
    thus prevent further Genocides.

    Sylva-MD-Poetry

    From the Poetry Collection…”Lance My Hart (Heart) at a Glance”, 2007

  2. ohannes said:

    I have a very good news to the ECHR from now on Holocaust is a total lie from now
    on Hitler was a greats man of 20 century from now on Stalin was great man Ataturk was Homosexual and it was blood sacking vampire all comes under international free speech law
    i like it ECHR stupid drug addict law makers how but the History of the world is a big lie
    only written then by Victorians Nations

  3. HETANOS said:

    This development has the real possibility to derail and undermine the whole efforts and work, all the progress over the last 90 plus years that the Armenian nation has achieved in its quest to have the Armenian genocide properly recognized and condemned.
    The ball is in our court, the time for BS and chip talks is over. This is the one event that necessitates our collective resolve, all our resources to protect our rights and justice to our nation and universal human right in general. All the academics from individuals, to organizations like the international genocide scholars, all our friends need to be rallied and present an organized, well planned and substantiated apple to this unjust decision. The appeal process is open and available. It is up to us, all the organizations, may they be political, religious or otherwise need to coordinate and be involved in this straggle. The alternative is not an option as it is complete disillusionment from West, its democracy and fluid sense of its justice.
    In the event the European court doesn’t find the courage and wisdom to correct itself the Armenian nation once and for all will lose all its respect for the Europe, the west and what it truly represents. And may I add rightly so. The west will lose Armenia and Armenians. Once again the Russian alternative will be dominant and embraced as only viable and right option for the Armenian people, for better or worst.
    Our political, social, legal, academic and social reality is on the spot; our entire nation is on the spot. The international fate based organizations from the Pope in Rome to fellow victim nations like the Greeks and Assyrians are on the spot. All resources need to be tapped and utilized to overturn this unjust and shameful decision that casts a doubt on the validity of the Armenian genocide.
    This is a call for action… God forbid, the alternative will have to high a price for our nation and its future. This is the time. We just cannot fail in this. This is the show down.
    May god and justice help our nation.

    • Sarkis said:

      During the Crimean War Britain and France saved muslim turkey from being dismantled by Orthodox Christian Russia (Armenia’s liberators after more than 800 years of slavery), allowing turks the chance to massacre Armenians en masse in 1894-1896, 1909, and 1915-1923. During World War One the Germans allied with the ottoman turks and armed and trained the turkish military to the point where many Armenians resisting the Genocide where fighting turkish troops under direct German command. In the aftermath of World War I the turks were armed by the Italians to fight off and destroy the Greeks because Italy did not want to see a rival power arise in Athens and challenge Rome’s dominance in the Mediterranean. During the Treaty of Lausanne turkey got to keep everything so long as it tacitly allowed the British and French to take over the Arab Middle East and the oil wealth there. The west, particularly it’s jewish bankers, funded the bolshevik movement and harbored many of its leaders in European capitals until the time was ripe for the murderous bolsheviks to overthrow the Orthodox Christian Czar and replace his government with the bloodiest and most murderous one in history; the early bolsheviks (mainly jewish and including a significant number of Armenian idiots) were the ones who handed the turks all of western Armenia as well as Kars and other regions of Eastern Armenia. In the early 1920s the French shameless gifted Cilicia to the turks. In the early 1930s the French shamelessly gifted the Hatay province, including the handful of remaining western Armenian cities located there, to the turks. In the mid-1940s the Americans instituted the “Truman doctrine” and prevented the advancing Soviet Red Army from taking over turkey, which still remains the best chance Armenia has had at liberating any territory from turkey since the Genocide. In 1973 the Americans and Europeans looked the other way as turkey occupied and raped the island nation of Cyprus, resulting in death and destruction for many Armenians and Greeks. Over sixty years of steady NATO support has turned the remnants of the “sick man of Europe” into the regional powerhouse which turkey is today. The west has looked the other way like occasional massacres in Istanbul destroyed the remaining Armenians and Greeks there, while giving the turks the freedom to openly colonize large parts of Europe itself (unless things change, Europe will have a muslim majority, if not outright turkish majority in a few decades)… Meanwhile the west supports terrorists who target Armenians in Syria, has committed genocide in Iraq, has instituted dehumanizing blockades of Iran which have harmed civilized but left the government there untouched, enabled a genocide of Palestinians, carried out immoral bombings of civilians in Serbia, Libya and former colonies around the world……..
      And we Armenians are actually surprised that these criminals masquerading as “defenders of liberty” have once again basically told us Armenians that we do not matter?!?!?! When historians like David Irving or Ernst Zundel question inconsistencies about the Holocaust, the Europeans are quick to self-righteously hand them long prison sentences without due process. European leaders show us time and again that they national interests trump fairytale concepts like justice, democracy, human rights or any other lofty ideals that they can deceptively use to justify their criminality.
      But I see a silver lining here: if Europe keeps spitting on the Armenians long enough, even the most politically inept Armenians will realize that Europeans are not to be trusted. Thankfully, with the Rise of Russia as a superpower once again and the precipitous decline of European economies, living standards, demographics and influence, Armenia has a choice and does not have to look to the treacherous west for salvation.

  4. Shahane said:

    Two faced Turks appeal for freedom of expression to voice denial of the genocide in EU but in their own country they show no parralels where you go to jail for mentioning the genocide.

    • Gayane said:

      PRECISELY Sahane jan.. exactly what I was thinking. and yet the WEST and EUROPE kisses TUrkey’s behind and kneels down at every effort Turkey puts forth.. Armenians WITH ONE FORCE need to crash such powers once and for all with their brain power and resources COLLECTIVELY..

      • Tsayt said:

        …and as the Turk/Azeri side gets involved “Caviar” diplomacy…which I’m sure has reached the plates of those judges at ECHR and their toasts nicely buttered…we, instead build “magnificent” churches in Armenia, Russia that cost 10’s of millions of dollars.

        Let’s face it we sit on our behind and say to ourselves…truth will triumph in the end…yeah right!

  5. Zareh said:

    and who is going to speak about the human rights of the victims and their heirs?

    No wonder why Armenians all over the world are more sympathetic to Russia and not the hypocrite Western powers who can criminalize the holocaust and not the Armenian Genocide. The same Western powers who keep Turkey, a blatant Al-Qaida supporter, in NATO.
    Long live Russia-Armenia-Iran friendship.

  6. eddy said:

    Something important is missing here…The denial of Armenian Genocide by Turkish Workers’ Party (İP) Chairman Dogu Perincek was biased on racism, turkishness , justification of deportation of en mass killing and final his intention was insulting of the memory of the victims , which means a second killing !

  7. Tsoghig said:

    So what if someone was convicted in Switzerland for denying the Holocaust and jailed, would this court rule the same way?

  8. GB said:

    Penal code 301 become an effective tool among EU bribe takers!! It is time to make Armenia as strong as possible, militarily, economically and politically!!

  9. Vartan said:

    In response to Hetanos’ comment…. Perhaps we (the whole Armenian community) should focus on a small group of politicians at a time. Select those that are most easily replaced by an Armenian or by someone truly sympathetic with the Armenian position and will consistently act on our behalf. In this way we can slowly but surely replace those who create obstacles to genocide recognition with those who will help obtain genocide recognition and subsequent advances….

    Not sure which politicians to target first or where — here in the States, abroad, both? Can organizations such as Asbarez Post, AGBU, ARF, etc. create lists of politicians in districts with large enough Armenian-sympathtic constituencies to be ousted? As you say, unify, unify, unify.

  10. john said:

    Two faced Turks appeal for freedom of expression to voice denial of the genocide in EU but in their own country they show no parallels where you go to jail for mentioning the genocide.

  11. Vindicated Man said:

    From now on, I’ll be cautious if anyone says “integrity” when talking about European judges.

  12. Arn.Sweden. said:

    To speak the Lie is not a fall under the freedom of expression !.

    The Signatures HETANOS and Shahane has very good points.

    Arn.Sweden.

  13. Mt. Ararat said:

    What did you expect else? After these so called stupid protocols were signed I did quite to fight for the recognition of Armenian Genocide.

    SHAME TO THE OFFICIALS IN YEREVAN! THIS ALL SHOWS THAT ARMENIAN DIASPORA WAS RIGHT!

    Say Thank you to the Serz Sakisyans Administration

    According to the Armenian -Turkish protocols an “historical commission” should discus the fact of Armenian Genocide. Turks had an easy task and the protocols did fulfill there purpose even without being ratified by the Turkish parliament!

    All what can be done is> to nullify these shameful protocols and Armenian government should demand form Swiss federal government to challenge this verdict and offers its “indirect” support to proove the fact of Armenian Genocide before a high panel ( 17 judges! ) and so on

    ONCE AGAIN SHAME ON THESE OFFICIALS IN YEREVAN!

    • Sarkis said:

      What kind of self-hating ideas are you pushing here? In case you have not noticed, Europe and the United States have been very actively denying the Armenian Genocide for the past fifty years, several decades before the Protocols were signed in 2008.

      Your comment completely skips over the fact that the Europeans ruled against providing the same type of criminalization for denial of the Armenian Genocide that they have instituted for denial of other genocides and massacres WITHOUT making a single reference to the Protocols. What you are doing is ignoring, and thereby tacitly justifying Europe’s intransigence and hypocritical attack against Armenians and absolving Europeans for there treachery by trying to blame the Armenian government.

      Europe uses its false image as defender of justice to launch military attacks against other countries, yet justice requires objective and independant condemnations of crimes like genocide regardless of the status or position of the victim after the fact (not that Armenia has done anything wrong in any case).

      So I’ll finish by taking part of your advice: I thank President Sargsyan for his far-sighted leadership, especially his courageous decision on September 3 to confirm that Armenia would ascend to the Russian-led Customs Union, thereby guaranteeing that Armenia would not have to depend on the treacherous, two-faced turcophiles in Europe!

  14. Marcos said:

    Why people only speak about history. Why no one pays attention to modern day genocide which is happening every day. Just look what happened to entire armenian community in Russian city of Arzamas just last week. Community rooted, entirely wiped out, business taken over by russians, families expelled.

  15. Anto said:

    I wonder what would happen if the Human Rights Court say`s the same thing about the Jewish Holocaust !

  16. Hay said:

    Does this mean I can deny the Holocaust? Or will I be thrown in jail like is currently done? It is also freedom of expression, yet nobody is allowed to utter anything about it. Why is one single group deemed more special than everybody else? Double standards and hypocrisy are the cornerstones of “democracy.”

  17. Jesus Inodoro said:

    We need to throw the west and their decadence off our backs. Nothing good can come from them. Armenians have a western complex. Armenians are westerners, but it does not help in this case. Genocide of westerners is permitted and encouraged by the West. Armenians should have internalized this by now.

  18. Janine said:

    What would it take to establish the case of “genocide” in an international tribunal? Should not genocide scholars be, in fact, at work in this? Lemkin coined the legal term genocide because of the events of the Armenian genocide.

    What is most troubling to me is this statement about opinion and debate when in fact there were court cases (even in Turkey) substantiating the facts before there was such a term as genocide. Certainly the government orders to destroy the population amount to the aims of “genocide” according to the court opinion.

  19. Alec Toynton said:

    I am just absolutely disgusted with the comments above. What about freedom of expression? I state clearly here that I do not believe that the massacres of 1915 amounted to genocide. No doubt the commentators above think that I should be sent to prison for this. Freedom of speech if it is to mean anything must include the right to say that which others do not wish to hear. In a genuinely free society people must be free to offend others. People should only be banned from inciting violence or other illegal acts. I am disgusted with the attitude of a large part of the Armenian community who want to shut down free speech regarding Armenian history. Also, we need to remember that there is no-one left alive today who bears any responsibility for the events of 1915 whatsoever. I don’t go round hating Germans or Japanese because of the ghastly atrocities that their ancestors committed during World War ii. For goodness sake grow up, put the past behind you and start trying to cultivate friendly relations with the Turks.

    • Hay said:

      I personally agree with your viewpoint that free speech should never be curtailed, no matter whether we agree with somebody’s else opinion or not. I do, however, take issue with for instance the Jewish Holocaust being a holy and untouchable topic, the mere mention of which in any negative tone is not just frowned upon but punished upon at the highest echelons of power. Uttering any sort of questioning attitude towards it will ruin a person’s life and career overnight. Why not with the Armenian Genocide then? it is this sort of double-standard and favoritism that makes democracy and “freedom” look like the joke that it is,

    • tsoghig said:

      And so we just just forget that the turks systematically massacred our families, raped our women, raped and maimed our children, stole our property, stole our lands and churches? I am suprised that a person bright enough to read this article in Asbarez is so stupid that he would write what happened in 1915 was not a genocide. What? 1915 was Hitler’s playbook. We are never going to get over it until Turkey gives us back what is rightly ours…yes I am talking about reperations. There is no free speech when we are dealing with the truth on one side and lies on the other. So should we protect freedom of speech and defend the rights of holocaust deniers? What about the KKK? Do you read Turkish papers and leave comments asking Turks to leave their past and make nice with Armenians, when the paper publishes articles about young Turks cutting the throats of elderly Christians who are mostly Armenians? Go mind your own busines please and stop leaving nonsensicle comments on my newspaper’s articles. This is not the US government and I have no responsibilty to protect your freedom of speech.

  20. HETANOS said:

    To Vartan and others who still think that the way to achieve justice to issues of interest to the Armenian nation is by appeasing , influencing different law makers and officials, I would just say that that whole approaches just bankrupted itself for good. No sane person will ever believe in it. Our political, social or any other sort of organizations should review their policies in this regard and revise them if they still want the trust and loyalty of the Armenian nation. Time and again it has been very well documented that ALL politicians are as good as the amount of the benefits they expect from us or any other side who is willing to “purchase” their” loyalty” and “ services”. Time and again they appeared to be our “friends” and once they left congress or other positions they become well paid lobbyists for the other side. The one who pays orders the tune. The financial capabilities and resources of Turks are flowing now, from Baku to Ankara and beyond. The rest is nonsense. What they teach you in school about democracy, universal human rights, and fairness is bought and sold by the pound every day by the same people and governments who so loudly trumpet about it. I think it is time for our political parties; leaders respect themselves and the Armenian people enough to abandon this practice once and for all if they do not want to get alienated and distrusted by the Armenian nation. Stop this circus of banquets, hallow sermons, fund raisers etc… Armenian people have been deceived and taken for a ride long enough with this empty, unrealistic approach. At the end and under closer observation it resembles a self-serving business and nothing more.
    Armenians should spend their resources and energy into strengthening themselves and not feed the odar politicians. They are useless, shameless and corrupt, all of them.
    Now this is the real test and opportunity for our well known organizations and leaders to put everything aside and organize a solid, potent response to this challenge. The appeal of the Euro court’s decision is that challenge. No more BS and empty cocktail parties and fund raisers. Get to real work. Show us you mean business. Anything short of well organize response and appeal to this court case will not be forgiven by the Armenian nation.

  21. GeorgeMardig said:

    Armenians should take this opportunity to explain the world in reality who the Turks are and what they stand for, in the past as well today they are blood thirsty Genocide perpetrators. Their cowardliness stops them to come in terms with their past and recognize and compensate the Armenian people. The declaration of the Human Rights Court makes them partners in the crime, it shows how corrupt and biased is their decision, they can compete with 3rd world nations, had Armenia accepted adherence into EU the result would have been totally differently, without shame and without remorse the West expects Armenia to confront Russia and do the dirty job for them. THE WEST HAS BECOME BANKRAUPT IN THEIR VALUES, the destruction of its society has already started

  22. mutsuhito said:

    I am really ashamed to see such hateful comments as a human being. Openly talking about bribing politicians ? And you say west has become bankrupt of values… You know what Armenians should do? Just try to improve your self, your country and ultimately the world we all share. Insulting everyone who disagree with you won’t help at this cause.

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