BERN, Switzerland (ArmRadio)—The Switzerland-Armenia Association, an advocacy group for Armenians in Switzerland based in Bern, sent a letter on Tuesday to Swiss authorities urging for the appeal of the European Court of Human Rights’ decision on Perincek v. Switzerland, in which the Court deemed denial of the Armenian Genocide not a crime, overturning existing Swiss and European laws.
The Switzerland-Armenia Association (SAA) stressed that Switzerland still has the chance to appeal the Court’s verdict. The deadline for this appeal is March 17.
“The Strasburg ruling is not just unacceptable for Swiss citizens of Armenian origin, but also for the Swiss justice system which has condemned twice at the highest level the denial of the genocide of the Armenian people,” the Association’s letter says.
The SAA also acquired legal opinion from renowned international public lawyers as well as Swiss penal code experts. The resulting document was submitted to the Federal Council and Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) and the Swiss representative at the ECHR with the urgent request to consider thoroughly an appeal for a revision of the ruling.
According to the Association, a refusal to appeal the ECHR ruling would mean that Switzerland:
— abandons the basic principles of the protection of human rights and human dignity;
— defaults on her international commitments in combating racism (see: Switzerland’s report before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, CERD);
— proactively favors a weakening of her own laws;
— takes clear sides, violating crucial obligations to neutrality as a mediating country in the conflicts between Armenia and her neighboring Turkish republics, especially in light of Swiss President Didier Bulkhalter’s chairmanship of the OSCE, which administers the Minsk Group mediating body.
The Asociation’s letter further urges the Swiss government to pay heed to calls from countless Swiss, European, international, and even Turkish groups to appeal the ECHR’s verdict, citing concerns from international experts in genocide studies and human rights.
The SAA also urges the Swiss government not to fall prey to Turkish politics, noting that Turkey’s chairmanship of the 2015 G20 Summit may make President Burkhalter privy to offering concessions for a guarantee of an invitation to the Summit.
Finally, the ECHR’s decision has only emboldened racists and genocide deniers instead of advocating free speech, the SAA argues. With no appeal, the Court’s ruling will only serve to validate deniers of the Armenian Genocide and their continuing opposition to human dignity for the victims of that heinous crime.
“We hope that President Didier Burkhalter – who, in fact, recently condemned with clear words the denial of all crimes against humanity on the occasion of his visit to Auschwitz at the end of last month – as well as the Head of the FDJP, Federal Concillor Simonetta Sommaruga, are aware of their responsibility towards Switzerland and the world at large,” the letter concludes.