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21.12.13

Together Against the Denial of the Armenian Genocide

Translated by Vartan Matiossian
The undersigned persons and associations express their deepest concern and outrage following the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights published on December 17, 2013 in the case of Doğu Perinçek against Switzerland (1). This ruling not only stipulates that denying the Armenian genocide is not a crime, but goes further and disputes a "general consensus on the events like the ones that are treated here," namely, the Armenian genocide.
By this decision, the European Court of Human Rights deems denial of the Armenian genocide one of the fundamental human rights. Worse, it becomes the vector of denial of the Armenian genocide perpetrated in 1915 in the Ottoman Empire, trampling the memory of the victims and the rights of their descendents.
The decision of the Court (2), which falls directly into line with the denialist policy of the Turkish state, is a signal of encouragement directed to the deniers of the Armenian genocide, whom it strengthens in their discourse of hate and their anti-Armenian racism. 
At a moment when a part of the Turkish society is awakening to a long-needed work of memory, the European Court of Human Rights brings its support to an ultra-nationalist individual, incarcerated in Turkey within the frame of the criminal network Ergenekon (3) and former kingpin of the sinister Comité Talaat Pasha, the Turkish "Hitler," which parades in the streets of European capitals.
Doğu Perinçek, who by a sentence of March 9, 2007 of the Tribunal of Lausanne (Switzerland) (4) had been recognized guilty of racial discrimination for having qualified the Armenian genocide as "international lie," had appealed to the ECHR on June 10, 2008 to obtain the right to deny the Armenian genocide. He thus won his case. This character, condemned to perpetual prison in Turkey, has received the support of the Turkish government, which has "addressed observations to the Court as an intervening third party."
In a report of 82 pages, the Court assesses that the condemnation of  Perinçek in Switzerland was a violation of article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention of Human Rights. But, as its communiqué shows (5), it goes well beyond this simple affirmation.
While pretending not to make any pronouncement "on the juridical qualification of the Armenian genocide," the Court -- feigning ignorance of the work of hundreds of international historians -- observes that "one of the principal goals of free speech is protecting minority points of view[...] on questions of general interest that are not entirely settled." It boasts of distinguishing "this case clearly from those that bear on the denial of the crimes of the Holocaust."
In fact, the European Court of Human Rights designates state denial that is the alpha and the omega of a powerful, authoritarian Turkey, regularly condemned for its permanent violations of freedom of expression, as a "minority viewpoint". Heir of the Crime, the Turkish state pursues -- close to 100 years after the genocide -- its destructive job through relentless lobbying. Once and again it tries to insinuate doubt, to distill its falsifying theories about an unpunished genocide and strives its utmost to establish an unbearable competition of memories.
Is it left to the ECHR -- which hides behind the imperfections of the Swiss law to justify its position -- to be the sound box of this denial of such inordinate violence toward the descendants of the victims?
Denial is not an opinion. Like racism, it is an offense. Indeed a crime: to deny a genocide is, according to Elie Wiesel, "to assassinate once again" the victims.
Switzerland must decisively appeal (6) the decision of December 17, 2013. With the approach of the Centennial of the Armenian genocide, which will be commemorated throughout the world on April 24, 2015, it is imperative that "the international recognition of the Armenian genocide and the incrimination of the denial of this genocide" are forcefully reaffirmed by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.
Soon it will be 100 years of denial: it is enough!

Séta Papazian, President of Collective VAN (Armenian Vigilance against Denial) 
Cindy Leoni, President of SOS Racisme 
Albert Herszkowicz, President of Memorial 98 
Jonathan Hayoun, President of UEJF (Jewish Students Union of France) 
Jacky Mamou, President of CUD (Collective Urgency Darfur) 
Alain Gauthier, President of CPCR (Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda) 
Alain Jakubowicz, President of LICRA (International League against Racism and Antisemitism)
Bernadette Hétier, Co-president of MRAP (Movement against Racism and for People's Friendship) 
Paul-Max Morin, Executive Director of EGAM (European Grassroots Anti-racist Movement).

[1] Petition Nr. 27510/08.
[2] Only two judges, Nebojša Vučinić (Montenegro) et Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque (Portugal), have distanced themselves from the shocking decision of the ECHR. They have exposed their very documented objections in 29 points and have recalled the Decision-Frame of the European Union, which all member states have transposed to their national law to penalize "the apology, the denial, or the gross public banalization of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes."
[3] Doğu Perinçek was arrested in Turkey on March 24, 2008 within the investigation of the ultra-nationalist network Ergenekon, a fascist gang suspected of having instigated the assassination of the Armenian journalist of Turkey, Hrant Dink, on January 19, 2007. Doğu Perinçek, President of the Workers Party in Turkey (extreme left ultra-nationalist), was condemned to life imprisonment on August 5, 2013.
[4] Doğu Perinçek has been condemned in Switzerland for your declarations in various lectures held in May, July and September 2005 in the cantons of Vaud, Zurich, and Berne. He had publicly denied the existence of any genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian people in 1915 and had remarkably qualified the Armenian genocide as "international lie." The Association Suisse-Arménie had sued the petitioner on July 15, 2005. 
[5] "The need to condemn the denial of the qualification of genocide of the atrocities committed in Armenia during 1915 and following years has not been demonstrated" (Communiqué of the ECHR, December 17, 2013).
[6] Isn't it surprising that Swiss judge Helen Keller voted against her own country? Is it necessary to put in perspective the lack of willingness of Switzerland to defend itself in this case with the visit of Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkish Foreign Minister, to the Helvetic Confederation on October 10, 2013, with the aim of "developing Turkish-Swiss relations"?

Le Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.fr), December 20, 2013

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