The Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Perinçek v. Switzerland: Reducing Genocide to Law

Note: this is a revised version of the original post published on 21 December 2013. Additions have been made to better address some of the concerns expressed by readers in their comments.

On 17 December 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled by five votes against two that Switzerland violated the right to freedom of speech by convicting Doğu Perinçek, chairman of the Turkish Workers’ Party, for having publicly denied the existence of any genocide against the Armenian people.

I. Background

On several occasions, the applicant had claimed that the idea of an Armenian genocide was ‘an international lie’. The reasoning adopted by the Swiss courts to find him guilty of racial discrimination (see the judgment of the Swiss Federal Tribunal) rested inter alia on the identification of a consensus about the existence of the Armenian genocide. In the view of the Swiss courts, because the Armenian genocide was the object of a ‘general historical and scientific consensus’, its existence had to be considered established as a matter of fact and could not be challenged in court – even though the issue had not been previously adjudicated by a court of law, and despite the fact that some degree of controversy persisted as to the legal qualification of these events.

II. The Court’s Decision

As a preliminary matter, the European Court of Human Rights first examined whether the applicant’s discourse constituted an abuse of rights. Article 17 of the European Convention on Human Rights prevents anyone from using his right to freedom of expression for ends which are contrary to the text and spirit of the Convention. This is in particular the case when comments incite to violence or racial hatred. The Court did find that the applicant’s comments were provocative and that they ‘could be assimilated to an attempt to justify the acts committed by the Ottoman Empire’. However, it could not come to the conclusion that they were tantamount to an incitement to racial hatred.

Having concluded that the applicant’s comments did not amount to an abuse of rights, the Court proceeded to reviewing the merits of the complaint. It indicated that it was not incumbent upon it to arbitrate controversial historical questions and make factual or legal findings concerning the massacres and deportations that occurred in Turkey in 1915. The Court limited itself to examining whether the interference in the applicant’s freedom of expression by the Swiss judicial authorities pursued a legitimate aim and was necessary in a democratic society.

The Court first acknowledged that the decision of the Swiss courts was ‘susceptible to serve the protection of the rights of others, namely the honour of the family and relatives of the victims of the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian people’.

However, it found that, considered as a whole, the motives of the Swiss authorities were insufficient to warrant interference with the applicant’s rights. The Court recalled its jurisprudence on the freedom of speech, stressing that the protection of the Convention extends ‘not only to “information” or “ideas” that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb’. Any restriction of the freedom of expression must respond to ‘a pressing social need’.

In assessing whether the interference was necessary, the Court first noted that the state’s margin of appreciation in this case was reduced because the comments of the applicant were part of a historical, legal and political debate of public interest. Then, the Court expressed caution about the ‘consensus approach’ adopted by the Swiss courts: it pointed out that a consensus was difficult to establish in relation to matters which, in the Court’s opinion, cannot be historically ascertained with absolute certainty, especially in view of the fact that genocide is a very specific and narrowly defined legal concept requiring a high threshold of proof. Finally, the Court cited pertinent developments before domestic courts in France and Spain and before the Human Rights Committee concluding that the criminalisation of opinions about historical facts that do not incite to violence or racial hatred cannot be justified.

III. Comments

The verdict reached by the Court is most welcome. The line of reasoning of the Swiss authorities was indeed troubling, as it came very close to establishing a form of ‘dictature de la pensée unique’: a system which places one single opinion above all others, criminalises disagreement, and precludes any form of debate or discussion. As the Court rightly recalled, disturbing or shocking opinions deserve the full protection of the law. Provided that they do not incite to violence or racial hatred, opinions we deem unfounded, inappropriate, or despicable should be subject to debate and argumentation, not blind suppression. Indeed, as the Court has regularly stressed, ‘[s]uch are the demands of pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no “democratic society”’.

The Court also reminds us of the necessity of ‘reducing genocide to law’. Brandished as a rhetorical and political weapon, the term ‘genocide’ has been used, misused and abused ad nauseam by a variety of actors seeking to further particular agendas. Yet this word should not be ascribed more significance or meaning than it actually has. Genocide remains above all a legal construct – nothing more, and nothing less. It should be kept in mind that the crime of genocide as defined under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide requires the specific ‘intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such’. Crimes need not necessarily reach a certain scale or level of atrocity to be characterised as genocide under the law. Conversely, widespread or systematic atrocities may not present the constitutive elements of genocide.. Therefore, the fact that certain crimes have not been characterised as genocide does not necessarily make them any less serious. The events painfully remembered by the Armenian people as Meds Yeghern (‘the Great Crime’) may well have constituted genocide. However, because such determination is conditioned by formal legal criteria and because it entails specific legal consequences (such as individual criminal responsibility or state responsibility), it is an issue that should ultimately be decided by a court of law. Unfortunately, significant legal obstacles stand in the way of any judicial pronouncement on this matter. Be that as it may, even if a court were able to rule, disagreement about the validity of the judges’ findings should arguably still be tolerated as long as it does not constitute hate speech.

As indicated by judges Raimondi and Sajó in their separate opinion, the decision of the Court should not be interpreted as downplaying in any way the seriousness of the crimes committed against the Armenian people. This is perhaps why the Court’s reasoning is, in certain respects, so frustrating. It does not tell us with satisfying clarity why certain negationist comments deserve to be criminalised while others do not. Moreover, while the Court pretended to adopt a neutral position with respect to the existence of an Armenian genocide, it actually did take a stance by stressing the absence of a sufficient consensus on this question. The precautions taken by the Court are, of course, understandable. Yet some may legitimately feel that the Court’s decision, behind all its prevarications, lacks the courage necessary to answer those questions.

30 thoughts on “The Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Perinçek v. Switzerland: Reducing Genocide to Law”

  1. No honest people left on this earth everyone can say what he wants … even judges can lie because all people became godless…”The politics play and people pay”…who lost his life gone he can not talk … In every Armenian home there a story of genocide…How such people can deny … and lie …are they paid by Turkish liras to stay quite …and deny the first genocide…in fact it was not the first one since Tatars arrived to Armenian Highland they genocided Armenians from 1064 till today…they Turkified (islamatized) 2 million Armenians…and Hemsin people are clear …before the internet we never heard Armenian muslims …but now we know about Armenian Muslims like “Hemsins” race living on the black sea they were Turkified by force and who refused was thrown in the valleys …wasn’t that another genocide…?
    Why the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments recognize the Armenian Genocide and why English parliament not…aren’t they living in the same land ?…but it is very clear that politics plays its role…not according to humans lost life but according to business…and what arranged under the table… They can play on any one …on the head of artful, honest people like Armenians…It is a great shame…for a human race to behave this way…I feel we are living in a corrupt planet …no one can change anything…!!!

    1. Sylva, jana, you can leave these “crocodile tears” to your grandchildren when you sing them a good-night lullaby and fool them (poor kids) with your falsified Armenian version of history (actually, poor history as well!). Since when Armenian massacres (which, actually, represent historical fact and no one denies them) suddenly became a “genocide” without any tribunal decision – the necessary prerequisite for genocide to be a genocide? Have you heard of the Herero and Namaqua people in Namibia and what happened to them? If not, go educate yourself before you ever come here to discuss history. Actually, what about basic maths? What is earlier – 1904 or 1915???? Herero and Namaqua were the victims of the first genocide of the 20th century (1904-07), then come Turks whom armed Armenians exterminated at the scale of millions during the two Balkan wars and then in 1914 onward! And only then can you speak about the Armenian deaths. Don’t run faster than the horse in the carriage.
      Time for Armenians to fall on their knees in front of the Turks and beg their pardon for the betrayal, genocide and all the worst things human being can ever think of!
      If someone is honest – especially the neutral judges – they are immediately called “corrupt” by people like you. And when the politicians accept bribes and speak about the Armenian deaths turning blind eye to the Turkish Genocide, people like you call them “honest”. This is the Armenian-style honesty, I guess.
      Armenians betrayed their own state and paid huge price. Time to learn lessons and move on.

  2. With this ruling the ECHR proved that it is a court of “International lie” (using the terminology of Mr. Perincek). A court that instead of serving the interests of true justice serves the political interests of some countries. Quite much resembles the shameful situation with the “Caviar diplomacy” in the Council of Europe. They call this justice and truth??? The right to “freedom of speech” of a single person against the well-established fact of exterminating 1.5 million people. Of course, freedom of speech is more important, even if it has an intent to disseminate further hatred and intolerance between those nations, on the first place. And then we are surprised how similar crimes happen again and again…

    To B. Nelson,
    ,”Something as important as accusing a whole nation with an un-established crime” – Without any intent to infringe on your right to freedom of thought I would just suggest to watch the rare interview with Doctor Raphael Lemkin on the word “Genocide”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFPch5OILfU

    P.S. I want be surprised that in the near future in the ECHR they will open a souvenir shop and sell cups and t-shirts with Nazi symbols and slogans. And definitely there will be some people who’d say: “What a wonderful example and method of promoting the “freedom of speech and expression!!!”.

    1. Mr. Roma is obviously in panic that truth has been finally restored at ECHR. We are entering an era of breaking Armenian lies and forgeries, and Mr. Roma can’t cope with it. He is calling “1.5 million deaths” a “well-established fact”. I am wondering where I can buy that “precise counter”. Who was counting, dare I even to ask? The entire Armenian population of the Ottoman empire was less than 1.4m, out of which 700.000 survived in Syria and another 500.000 fled to the Caucasus. Less 300.000 Armenians lost their lives, half of them – through murder.It makes about 140.000. See the difference?
      Poor Mr. Roma – victim of “cognac diplomacy”

  3. No person or nation can be tagged as “criminal”, unless there is a “court verdict” to this effect and when the defendant also had the right to speak in defense. In the recent case when “nations” are tagged as “criminals of genocide said to have happenned a century ago”,(and when there are no documents, no neutral eyewitnesses, no time-place-reason-numbers-or possibility to kill ten thousand everyday but no massgraves ever found) the address is clear. Apply to the United Nations for establishment of an International Tribunal, place your demand, let the defender speak and let the “laws in effect at the time of the incident” decide. You cannot make a law today, to blame anyone for what happened yesterday, when there was no such law. Do we go by “law and common sense”, or by “hearsay and lynching mob hysteria?”.
    Raphael Lemkin came from USA, he was simply “told of Armenian genocide”; and he used the word not even knowing that “22.000 Armenians Legion Soldiers in the Nazi army” were instrumental in rounding up his kinsmen, Jews, and sending them to death camps.

  4. From the 2nd paragraph of the concurring opinion of Raimondi and Sajó:
    Pourquoi avons-nous cette obligation particulière à l’égard des Arméniens ? Parce que la destruction d’un peuple commanditée par un gouvernement. . .

    from the15th paragraph of the concurring opinion of Raimond and Sajó:
    Nous ne voyons pas en quoi le fait de nier l’existence d’un plan d’extermination fomenté par Talat Pacha et ses acolytes porterait atteinte en ce sens à la dignité des membres de la communauté arménienne. . .

    When we put together the central assumptions around which these two sentences are built, e. g., 1) the government sponsored destruction of a people and 2) an extermination plan fomented by Talat Pacha and his acolytes, how far are Raimondi and Sajó from talking about genocide? We are already at genocide with these words. Why the prevarication? Furthermore, despite their theme of “no general consensus” these lines give every indication of citing and even contributing to the very “general consensus” which they claim does not exist. Very strange.

    1. Far from having sponsored any plan of extermination, Talat presented, on September 29, 1915, a report to the Ottoman cabinet, asking a systematic punishment against those who committed crimes against Armenians during the relocation. The report was adopted and three investigative commissions were established quickly. Only from February to May 1916, 67 persons were sentenced to death, 524 to jail and 68 to hard labor or confinement in a fortress. This is only a part of the repression decided by Talat. There were massacres and other crimes against Ottomans Armenians, but no state-sponsored massacres.

  5. 1- Allegation of any crime, must depend on strong evidences such as; document, time-place-cause-murder tool-corpse-grave etc. Justice and Laws do not work backwards, hence the incident must be subject to penal laws effective at the time of incident which did not exist. There is no written or documented or neutral eyewitness evidence for Talat Pasha or any member of the Government having given any type of extermination order. Talat Pasha, as Minister of Interior was in charge of “relocating the Armenians from the war zones (where they were sabotaging the army), to the shores of Euphrates within the Empire where there was no danger of war; It was arable land. Some unforeseen banditry acts did happen with only few of the columns! Yet 42 gendarmes died in fights to protect columns, while some others surrendered to much stronger Kurdish – Circassian bands.

    2- The 3rd Ottoman Army Commander Mahmut Kamil Pasha’s order dated July 31, 1915
    quotes: “Do not use vulgar language for the columns under your guard and protect their possessions”. (Strange order if those people were marched to death!)

    3- League of Nations: Copy of “Note Verbal” by Secretary-General Sir Eric Drummond, dated March 1st, 1920. Page 2: “Further, in Turkey, minorities were often oppressed and massacres carried out by irregular bands who were entirely outside the control of the central Turkish Government”

    4- “Memorandum presented to the Council of League of Nations by the Armenian Delegation” on Feb.2, 1923 at the Lausanne Conference.
    ” There are now about 700.000 Armenian refugees in the outlying countries, of these
    345.000 Armenians are in different parts of the Caucasus, 95.000 in Syria, 120.000 in Greece, in the islands and Macedonia, 40.000 in Bulgaria and occidental Thrace, 50.000 in Persia, and the rest dispersed here and there, not to mention about 110.000
    orphans who are providentially receiving aid from the American Near East Relief” (Before the war the Armenian population in the Ottoman Enpire was under 1.3 million. League of Nations confirm that 200.000 Armenians died in fights for the Allies, Armenian sources confirm that during the 1918-1920 2-year Dashnakist Republic, about 200.000 Armenians died in Armenia due to starvation and epidemics. (Numbers add logically)

    5- To understand “why the genocide tale” was propagated to “make colletions” must see:
    http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2007/08/1859-video-nbc-special-armenian.html

    6- To kill 1.5 millions in 5 months – 150 days transfer time, you must kill 10.000 every day, you need 150 stadium size graves dug by at least 5000 men every day. If you were to shoot them, you need 150 tons of bullets or 150 oxcarts for bullets only. This is an “Aladdin or Lord of the rings” type tale, when people are flattered by “victimization” instead of “evidenced treason by the fighting men of the innocent majority”. They are asked continously to contribute to the cause; and all do voluntarily or else, for understandable reasons.

    1. Two quotations from “Genocide and International Law” by William Schabas:

      1. ” [genocidal] intent is a logical deduction that flows from evidence of material acts. Criminal law presumes that an individual intends the consequence of his or her acts. . .”

      2. “The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in Akayesu, declared that genocidal intent could be inferred from the physical acts, and specifically ‘their massive and/or systematic nature or their atrocity. . . .”

  6. With the December 17, 2013 verdict on “Perincek vs Switzerland” by the European Courts of Human Rights, it is established that the events of 1915 cannot be proven to be genocide and cannot be compared to Jewish Holocaust. What’s more, silencing contra-genocide views is a direct violation of the human right to freedom of thought, expression, and speech–a stance contra-genocide scholars and writers were advocating all along.

    With this remarkable milestone of a court verdict, the Turkish side of the story, long dismissed, ignored, and/or censored, will now finally be heard. Armenian agitation, propaganda, insurgency, deception, terrorism, treason, revolts, territorial demands, and the resulting Muslim, mostly Turkish, suffering and losses will be included in the debate for a balanced treatment of the Turkish-Armenian conflict. All this can be expected to lead to civilized dialogue and reasoned debate which, in turn, may finally produce closure based on the concepts of “shared responsibility,” “shared pain,” and “fair memory”.

    Turko-phobia and Islamo-phobia in the pro-genocide views, by far the biggest challenges to reasoned debate on the Turkish-Armenian conflict, should now clearly be checked at the door prior to debating this issue. If that is done, then it will be seen that it was a truly complex human tragedy engulfing all the people of the era and area, not just Armenians. Furthermore, Armenian complicity in this tragedy, Armenian war crimes and hate crimes can no longer be swept under the rug (see, for example, http://www.ethocide.com for a photo of the well-trained, well-armed Armenian military academy cadets posing with their Russian-made Mosin weapons as far back as 1906, flying in the face of the rhetoric we are all so familiar with: “poor,starving, unarmed, loyal Armenians cut down by blood-thirsty Turks for no reason on one 1915 morning”. )

    Truth is within reach now…

  7. The ECHR decision was the most fair legal judgment over the allegations of the “Armenian genocide” in the 21st century. The overturned Swiss verdict against Mr. Perincek demonstrated the danger of an arbitrary application of the ‘genocide’ term to describe an inter-ethnic violence never tried in a court of law. More specifically, the Swiss Court, without any legal due process, attempted to elevate the Armenian historical narrative to the level of a law challenging which would become punishable. This was the worst assault against the freedom of speech and thought.

    I hope the ECHR decision will reverberate elsewhere, especially, in places like France, Uruguay and the U.S. State of California. Substantial presence of Armenian emigre communities or other forms of religious affinity in these locations do not justify the political discourse or the educational curricula of imposing a single view of history as the only fact.

    Finally, while suffering of the Ottoman Armenians during World War I is undeniable, so is the suffering of the Ottoman Turks, Kurds, Circassians, and other groups in the hands of Armenian nationalist groups during WWI. The proper venues for redressing these mutual grievances are academic institutions and civil society initiatives, not legislatures, elected governments or courts.

  8. The term “as such” should be underlined in the 1948 definition of ‘Genocide’ provided in the article above. It implies that ‘genocide’ happens when the race/group of people are killed/acted against only for belonging to a specific group of human race. In the case of Armenians of 1915, the cause of their relocation (within the boundaries of the empire to districts away from the war zone) was the rebellion of the majority of the Armenian population against their sovereign state, aiding and abetting the arch enemies (then) of the Ottoman Empire – namely the invading Russian armies, in the midst of a major warfare called World War-I (1914-1918).
    If the “as such” terminology is ignored, any war would have to be called a genocide.
    The Armenian Pressure Groups are doing just that. By grossly exaggerating their suffering, by increasing the Armenian dead to proportions much higher than their population of the times and by being vocal in the world media they are trying to reach their end desire of political gain.
    By taking advantage of the denial laws of the Holocaust, the Armenian Pressure Groups wish to suppress the examination of the historic events in their entirety. They even apply pressure on historians who examine the case without an Armenian prejudiced point of view. The Swiss Law was a result of this aggressive Armenian propaganda. It aimed to suppres the Turkish view entirely.
    Has any of your readers heard that more Turkish people were killed at the same time frame, in the same area (most of them in the hands of the Armenian rebel fighters).

    I wish to pay my respect to all the war dead – especially that of the Armenians and Turks, and all innocent victims of that era. However, it is immoral when the Armenians try to suppress the Turkish side of the story.
    Lawmakers should examine the events in their entirety. Othervise, they would participate in genocide against the Turks.

  9. It is unfathomable why the Diaspora Armenians are so hung up on their frutiless claim that there was such a thing as “Armenian Genocide.” Going through the historical documents, what comes through is not what the Turks have done to the Armenians but what the Armenians done to the Turks, not only back in 1915 when they terrorized their own people to instigate against the Turks, but even as recent as in the seventies and the eighties they killed Turkish diplomats all around the world. 2015 should be condemned as the 100th anniversary of the esteablishment of terrorism as promulgated by the Armenians. The world is awakening to the butchery of the Diaspora Armeninans past and present, and to the lies they have been spreading all these years. It is of no use to caution them that before they claim an act as genocide, when
    1. Concrete historical “facts” not just personal prejudicial beliefs, “clear legal basis” and existence of the “acts has to be clearly established.” None of this exists after 100 years of clamor, which in itself says something; namely, if in fact they were there, they would have been found by now;
    2. a genocial act can be established by an international tribune only. That is not available; which brings up the question why the Armenians do not take up the matter with the International Court of Justice. Is it because the findings may point to a “Turkish Genocide” where their dastardly acts of killings of the Turks, Kurds, Azeris and Circassians by the armed Armenian revolutionaries in the same place and same time are so well documented in the annals of history.
    3. Why oh why, the Armenians would not sit down to sieve together what the historical facts are? Why are they so afraid of opening their own archives? Why are they so selfish in denying the pain of others of millions? Why must they talk of their own pain only? If the Diasporans only will talk to the thousands of Armenians who leave their own country Armenia and come to live in Turkey today, they will find out that the same spirit with which the Armenians lived together with the Turks for hundreds of years under the same roof with all its rewards still is well and alive. If the diasporans continue with their unattainable and misplaced hope for what is not, it all will be to their own peril because the truth has a way of showing itself even if it takes more than a hundred years…

  10. It is now established that the events of 1915 cannot be proven to be genocide and cannot be compared to Jewish Holocaust. What’s more, silencing contra-genocide views is a direct violation of the human right to freedom of thought, expression, and speech–a stance contra-genocide scholars and writers were advocating all along. Now, the Turkish side of the story, long dismissed, ignored, and/or censored, will now finally be heard. Armenian agitation, propaganda, insurgency, deception, terrorism, treason, revolts, territorial demands, and the resulting Muslim, mostly Turkish, suffering and losses will be included in the debate for a balanced treatment of the Turkish-Armenian conflict. All this can be expected to lead to civilized dialogue and reasoned debate which, in turn, may finally produce closure based on the concepts of “shared responsibility,” “shared pain,” and “fair memory”.

  11. In the United States, statutes that would criminalize any sort of speech, even speech that is insulting or insensitive, are anathema. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote with great wisdom in United States v. Schwimmer (1929), ” [I]f there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought—not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” Certainly the applicant in the Perincek case was not a sympathetic figure, but he served well to demonstrate that a free society cannot draw red lines when it comes to speech. And I, for one, am pleased by the ECHR’s apparent recognition of this common sense tenet.

    After all, what may be the orthodox view today may change tomorrow with the revelation of new evidence or the change of fashion in society. Presaging Justice Brandeis’ declaration of principle in Schwimmer, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in his famous dissent in Abrams v. United States (1919) wrote, “[W]hen men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution.”

    Justice Holmes’ “free trade in ideas” is precisely what the ECHR preserved in its decision. After all, the essential ground for Perincek’s conviction by the Swiss courts was the supposed existence of a general consensus, particularly within academic circles, concerning the characterization of the Armenian case as one of genocide. Yet, the ECHR noted, legislative recognition of the genocide thesis was far from universal. Even the Swiss Federal Court itself admitted that there was no unanimity in the academic community concerning the matter. The ECHR’s analysis demonstrated exactly the same. The historical controversy over the Ottoman Armenians needs more time, then, to percolate and be studied. Well-meaning historians need to be free to research, discuss and debate the issue without having either to pass an ideological litmus test or live in fear of arrest or reprisal.

    The American Historical Association (AHA) would apparently agree. Its then-President, James Sheehan wrote to Turkey’s Prime Minster in 2005 that Although the AHA “does not have a position on the fate of the Armenians, it is deeply committed to free and open inquiry about historical issues, and especially about those issues that have been charged with political and ideological animosities.”

    In sum, the strength of America is not its armed forces. Rather, as recognized by Justice Robert Jackson who perhaps had the Nazi regime in mind for comparison, the strength of America consisted in “individual freedom of mind” rather than in “officially disciplined uniformity for which history indicates a disappointing and disastrous end.” (West Virginia v. Barnette (1943)).

    As the European Convention on Human Rights enshrines many of the same rights as the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the ECHR’s Perincek decision looks familiar and comforting. To American eyes, then, the majority decision is correct and wise.

  12. Following are my views on the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law’s revised version of article(27 January 2014), on the “Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights(EHCR) in Perinçek v. Switzerland:Reducing Genocide to Law”. I focused mainly on the “Comments” part III. :

    1) I have reservation for the auxilary verb “may” deployed in the following predicate: “The events painfully remembered by the Armenian people as Meds Yeghern (‘the Great Crime’) may well have constituted genocide. I tend to believe that “might” is more becoming to the case Meds Yeghern meaning “genocide” which “has been used ad nauseum by a variety of actors seeking to further particular agendas”.
    2) I don’t agree with the use of “unfortunately” before “..significant legal obstacles stand in the way of any judicial pronouncement on this matter….”. Why, “unfortunate”? On the contrary, I think it is “ fortunate”. What then, should have had stood before the Justice other than legal references? “Rhetorical and political weapons? Or historical researches open by definition to discussion and a matter of debate, without necessarily giving rise to final conclusions or to the assertion of objective and absolute truths”?
    4) Raimondi and Sajó in their separate opinion, voiced that:” the decision of the Court should not be interpreted as downplaying in any way the seriousness of the crimes committed against the Armenian people”. I would have valued this assessment with more respect should the author have had criticized the Portuguese and Montenegro judges’ oblivion of crimes committed against more than 500 thousand Muslim peoples murdered by the Armenian terrorist organizations supported by the Tsarist Russian army and then by the French, English and Christian Missionaries.
    5) I wish to challenge shortly the following thought: This is perhaps why the Court’s reasoning is, in many respects, so frustrating. This judgment is not correct: It is not, generally, frustrating. Yet, I follow that it is so for the “ genocide” proponents without which their being is impossible. But it’s of no avail: Vicissitudes of life!
    6)For the first time since 1915, the “genocide” issue has necessarily been juridically -indirectly but clearly- dealt with by an international court, thanks to Perincek’s courageous voicing of “Armenian genocide” as “the greatest international-imperialist lie of the 20th century”, and also thanks to zealous Swiss authorities’ actions, and particularly to that of Armenophile-Turcophobe Swiss courts’ prejudiced- hence primitive- trial and ensuing conviction of Perincek. Their myopic approach to the Convention to which Swiss is a party caused them considerable loss of credibility. Perincek’s Swiss conviction and its rejection by the EHRC are now well recorded in judicial history which I am sure will be included in their curricula as noticeable case-studies where the Swiss Courts’ conviction of perincek will set a remarkable example among the verdicts made with obnoxious intent.
    In his eloquent, brave defence Perincek compared the Swiss Courts with courts of the Inquisition. Indeed, he could have compared to!
    7)It(the Court) does not tell us with satisfying clarity why certain negationist comments deserve to be criminalised while others do not. But no! The Court tells! I invite the author/s to read the text carefully. Even the Press Release which gives an excellent résumé of the verdict -carefully couched in English -explains how the Court, providing excellent justification of the majority verdict, drew a precise distinction between the denial of an established genocide and pseudo-genocide – allegations- “brandished ad nauseum as rhetorical and political weapon by a variety of actors seeking to further particular agendas”. The commentar’s mind, so it seems, became disturbed by the Court’s fair and unexpected verdict as was the case for Prof. Tessa Hofmann who described the verdict as shock and surprise. Once in abyss, the Former has failed in providing convincing comments.
    7)Moreover, while the Court pretended to adopt a neutral position with respect to the existence of an Armenian genocide, it actually did take a stance by stressing the absence of a sufficient consensus on this question. Alleging that “the Court pretended to adopt a neutral position”is preposterous; insult to the the EHRC and its judges leveling the author with the opponents to “the greatest international-imperialist lie of the 20th century”. It’s obvious that the Court, studying the case from June 2008 until December 2013( nearly 5,5 years) did indeed take a neutral position, and underlined the absence of sufficient consensus on the issue, nullifying thereby the value of all political decisions taken under the pressure of a well organized, well financed Armenian propaganda machine, of every parliamentary , governmental decisions; institutes’ university chairs’ and the historians’ assessments. I wish to know how much time the commentators spent in understanding and assessing the case, in neutrality.

    8)The precautions taken by the Court are, of course, understandable. Yet some may legitimately feel that the Court’s decision, behind all its prevarications, lacks the courage necessary to answer those question. With this statement author/s of the comment reach the crowning point of ineptitude and impudence.
    Firstly what precautions the Court has taken? Precautions against fear of the Armenian terror? Fear of Armenian slanders?
    Secondly, why are they understandable, by who?
    Thirdly, there are no prevarications in the verdict. It is irrelevant, unfair accusation and repeated insult to the EHRC and its judges.
    To summon; the verdict is product of an honest, well studied, well thought, balanced, fair and courageous- fearless (of Armenian terrorists) judgment! It is engraved, indelibly, on the rock of history.
    Ülkü Başsoy
    08.02.2014

    Following are my views on the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law’s revised version of article(27 January 2014), on the “Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights(EHCR) in Perinçek v. Switzerland:Reducing Genocide to Law”. I focused mainly on the “Comments” part III. :
    1) I have reservation for the auxilary verb “may” deployed in the following predicate: “The events painfully remembered by the Armenian people as Meds Yeghern (‘the Great Crime’) may well have constituted genocide. I tend to believe that “might” is more becoming to the case Meds Yeghern meaning “genocide” which “has been used ad nauseum by a variety of actors seeking to further particular agendas”.
    2) I don’t agree with the use of “unfortunately” before “..significant legal obstacles stand in the way of any judicial pronouncement on this matter….”. Why, “unfortunate”? On the contrary, I think it is “ fortunate”. What then, should have had stood before the Justice other than legal references? “Rhetorical and political weapons? Or historical researches open by definition to discussion and a matter of debate, without necessarily giving rise to final conclusions or to the assertion of objective and absolute truths”?
    4) Raimondi and Sajó in their separate opinion, voiced that:” the decision of the Court should not be interpreted as downplaying in any way the seriousness of the crimes committed against the Armenian people”. I would have valued this assessment with more respect should the author have had criticized the Portuguese and Montenegro judges’ oblivion of crimes committed against more than 500 thousand Muslim peoples murdered by the Armenian terrorist organizations supported by the Tsarist Russian army and then by the French, English and Christian Missionaries.
    5) I wish to challenge shortly the following thought: This is perhaps why the Court’s reasoning is, in many respects, so frustrating. This judgment is not correct: It is not, generally, frustrating. Yet, I follow that it is so for the “ genocide” proponents without which their being is impossible. But it’s of no avail: Vicissitudes of life!
    6)For the first time since 1915, the “genocide” issue has necessarily been juridically -indirectly but clearly- dealt with by an international court, thanks to Perincek’s courageous voicing of “Armenian genocide” as “the greatest international-imperialist lie of the 20th century”, and also thanks to zealous Swiss authorities’ actions, and particularly to that of Armenophile-Turcophobe Swiss courts’ prejudiced- hence primitive- trial and ensuing conviction of Perincek. Their myopic approach to the Convention to which Swiss is a party caused them considerable loss of credibility. Perincek’s Swiss conviction and its rejection by the EHRC are now well recorded in judicial history which I am sure will be included in their curricula as noticeable case-studies where the Swiss Courts’ conviction of perincek will set a remarkable example among the verdicts made with obnoxious intent.
    In his eloquent, brave defence Perincek compared the Swiss Courts with courts of the Inquisition. Indeed, he could have compared to!
    7)It(the Court) does not tell us with satisfying clarity why certain negationist comments deserve to be criminalised while others do not. But no! The Court tells! I invite the author/s to read the text carefully. Even the Press Release which gives an excellent résumé of the verdict -carefully couched in English -explains how the Court, providing excellent justification of the majority verdict, drew a precise distinction between the denial of an established genocide and pseudo-genocide – allegations- “brandished ad nauseum as rhetorical and political weapon by a variety of actors seeking to further particular agendas”. The commentar’s mind, so it seems, became disturbed by the Court’s fair and unexpected verdict as was the case for Prof. Tessa Hofmann who described the verdict as shock and surprise. Once in abyss, the Former has failed in providing convincing comments.
    7)Moreover, while the Court pretended to adopt a neutral position with respect to the existence of an Armenian genocide, it actually did take a stance by stressing the absence of a sufficient consensus on this question. Alleging that “the Court pretended to adopt a neutral position”is preposterous; insult to the the EHRC and its judges leveling the author with the opponents to “the greatest international-imperialist lie of the 20th century”. It’s obvious that the Court, studying the case from June 2008 until December 2013( nearly 5,5 years) did indeed take a neutral position, and underlined the absence of sufficient consensus on the issue, nullifying thereby the value of all political decisions taken under the pressure of a well organized, well financed Armenian propaganda machine, of every parliamentary , governmental decisions; institutes’ university chairs’ and the historians’ assessments. I wish to know how much time the commentators spent in understanding and assessing the case, in neutrality.

    8)The precautions taken by the Court are, of course, understandable. Yet some may legitimately feel that the Court’s decision, behind all its prevarications, lacks the courage necessary to answer those question. With this statement author/s of the comment reach the crowning point of ineptitude and impudence.
    Firstly what precautions the Court has taken? Precautions against fear of the Armenian terror? Fear of Armenian slanders?
    Secondly, why are they understandable, by who?
    Thirdly, there are no prevarications in the verdict. It is irrelevant, unfair accusation and repeated insult to the EHRC and its judges.
    To summon; the verdict is product of an honest, well studied, well thought, balanced, fair and courageous- fearless (of Armenian terrorists) judgment! It is engraved, indelibly, on the rock of history.
    Ülkü Başsoy
    08.02.2014

    Following are my views on the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law’s revised version of article(27 January 2014), on the “Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights(EHCR) in Perinçek v. Switzerland:Reducing Genocide to Law”. I focused mainly on the “Comments” part III. :
    1) I have reservation for the auxilary verb “may” deployed in the following predicate: “The events painfully remembered by the Armenian people as Meds Yeghern (‘the Great Crime’) may well have constituted genocide. I tend to believe that “might” is more becoming to the case Meds Yeghern meaning “genocide” which “has been used ad nauseum by a variety of actors seeking to further particular agendas”.
    2) I don’t agree with the use of “unfortunately” before “..significant legal obstacles stand in the way of any judicial pronouncement on this matter….”. Why, “unfortunate”? On the contrary, I think it is “ fortunate”. What then, should have had stood before the Justice other than legal references? “Rhetorical and political weapons? Or historical researches open by definition to discussion and a matter of debate, without necessarily giving rise to final conclusions or to the assertion of objective and absolute truths”?
    4) Raimondi and Sajó in their separate opinion, voiced that:” the decision of the Court should not be interpreted as downplaying in any way the seriousness of the crimes committed against the Armenian people”. I would have valued this assessment with more respect should the author have had criticized the Portuguese and Montenegro judges’ oblivion of crimes committed against more than 500 thousand Muslim peoples murdered by the Armenian terrorist organizations supported by the Tsarist Russian army and then by the French, English and Christian Missionaries.
    5) I wish to challenge shortly the following thought: This is perhaps why the Court’s reasoning is, in many respects, so frustrating. This judgment is not correct: It is not, generally, frustrating. Yet, I follow that it is so for the “ genocide” proponents without which their being is impossible. But it’s of no avail: Vicissitudes of life!
    6)For the first time since 1915, the “genocide” issue has necessarily been juridically -indirectly but clearly- dealt with by an international court, thanks to Perincek’s courageous voicing of “Armenian genocide” as “the greatest international-imperialist lie of the 20th century”, and also thanks to zealous Swiss authorities’ actions, and particularly to that of Armenophile-Turcophobe Swiss courts’ prejudiced- hence primitive- trial and ensuing conviction of Perincek. Their myopic approach to the Convention to which Swiss is a party caused them considerable loss of credibility. Perincek’s Swiss conviction and its rejection by the EHRC are now well recorded in judicial history which I am sure will be included in their curricula as noticeable case-studies where the Swiss Courts’ conviction of perincek will set a remarkable example among the verdicts made with obnoxious intent.
    In his eloquent, brave defence Perincek compared the Swiss Courts with courts of the Inquisition. Indeed, he could have compared to!
    7)It(the Court) does not tell us with satisfying clarity why certain negationist comments deserve to be criminalised while others do not. But no! The Court tells! I invite the author/s to read the text carefully. Even the Press Release which gives an excellent résumé of the verdict -carefully couched in English -explains how the Court, providing excellent justification of the majority verdict, drew a precise distinction between the denial of an established genocide and pseudo-genocide – allegations- “brandished ad nauseum as rhetorical and political weapon by a variety of actors seeking to further particular agendas”. The commentar’s mind, so it seems, became disturbed by the Court’s fair and unexpected verdict as was the case for Prof. Tessa Hofmann who described the verdict as shock and surprise. Once in abyss, the Former has failed in providing convincing comments.
    7)Moreover, while the Court pretended to adopt a neutral position with respect to the existence of an Armenian genocide, it actually did take a stance by stressing the absence of a sufficient consensus on this question. Alleging that “the Court pretended to adopt a neutral position”is preposterous; insult to the the EHRC and its judges leveling the author with the opponents to “the greatest international-imperialist lie of the 20th century”. It’s obvious that the Court, studying the case from June 2008 until December 2013( nearly 5,5 years) did indeed take a neutral position, and underlined the absence of sufficient consensus on the issue, nullifying thereby the value of all political decisions taken under the pressure of a well organized, well financed Armenian propaganda machine, of every parliamentary , governmental decisions; institutes’ university chairs’ and the historians’ assessments. I wish to know how much time the commentators spent in understanding and assessing the case, in neutrality.

    8)The precautions taken by the Court are, of course, understandable. Yet some may legitimately feel that the Court’s decision, behind all its prevarications, lacks the courage necessary to answer those question. With this statement author/s of the comment reach the crowning point of ineptitude and impudence.
    Firstly what precautions the Court has taken? Precautions against fear of the Armenian terror? Fear of Armenian slanders?
    Secondly, why are they understandable, by who?
    Thirdly, there are no prevarications in the verdict. It is irrelevant, unfair accusation and repeated insult to the EHRC and its judges.
    To summon; the verdict is product of an honest, well studied, well thought, balanced, fair and courageous- fearless (of Armenian terrorists) judgment! It is engraved, indelibly, on the rock of history.
    Ülkü Başsoy
    08.02.2014

  13. Perhaps the very fact that the Turks were never legally convicted of having committed genocide upon their Armenian subjects is the very cornerstone of jurisprudence, namely, “innocent until proven guilty.”

    Throughout history, millions of civilians, alongside the military, have perished in tragic circumstances. To pick and choose some of these massacres and label them “genocide” without proving the intent to destroy a religious or ethnic group can only be attributed to prejudice.

    After World War I, the Allies attempted to convene an international tribunal to try the Ottoman Government of having committed war crimes. To that end, about 144 Turkish government and military officers, and prominent citizens, were transported to the island of Malta. After more than two years, no concrete evidence could be found to convict the Turks
    of the crime they were charged with.

    “On March 31, 1921, the British Foreign Secretary Lord George Curzon telegraphed the British Ambassador to the US, Sir Auckland Gedes, instructing him to pursue the collection of information for the purposes of prosecution:

    ‘There are in the hands of His Majesty’s Government at Malta a number of Turks arrested for alleged complicity in the Armenian massacre…There is considerable difficulty in establishing proofs of guilt… Please ascertain if the United States Government are in possession of any evicence…’

    On July 13, 1921, the ambassador replied:

    “I regret to inform Your Lordship that there was nothing therein which could be used as evidence against the Turks who are being detained for trial at Malta’.

    Shortly afterwards, the Turks were released and were sent back home to Turkey.

    Mrs. Erkin Baker
    Alton, Illinois

  14. Reply to myron 27.1.13
    Two quotations from “Genocide and International Law” by William Schabas:
    1. ” [genocidal] intent is a logical deduction that flows from evidence of material acts. Criminal law presumes that an individual intends the consequence of his or her acts. . .”
    R: Mr. Schabas’ much similar opinion appeared in: http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2005/12/486-60th-anniversary-of-genocide.html P.843 upper paragraph. However in the bottom paragraph we have another statement as resolution, reading:

    The following is copied from the Press Release of the ECHR verdict of 17.12.2013:

    2. “The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in Akayesu, declared that genocidal intent could be inferred from the physical acts, and specifically ‘their massive and/or systematic nature or their atrocity. . . .”
    R: No reply is given in principle. The comparison has no legal value being separate cases. The Court at this date was aware of other cases and would have taken them into consideration if they were connected in any way. Crime is neither hereditary nor contagious.

  15. It is indeed true that the Court only pretended to adopt a neutral position with respect to the existence of the Armenian genocide by stressing the presumed absence of a consensus on the matter– and I would here suggest that Mr. Decoeur’s “sufficient consensus” is redundant)–and that it did actually take a stance. It accomplished this by conflating consensus with unanimity and declaring, essentially, that all historical research is controversial and debatable BY DEFINITION. I think the Court would be hard pressed to find any semanticist worth their salt who would vouch for such an absurd proposition. Research by its nature is a quest for facts and principles. Controversy or debate can only enter in at the stage when conclusions are reached. This sort of shorthand does no honor to the Court, and it does not help that it borrowed the concept from a Spanish tribunal. This is just one example of the many shortcuts the Court took, all in the name of free expression, to arrive at a rehabilitation of the negationist playbook which will have deleterious and dangerous effects well into the future if it is not soon corrected.

    1. Armenian revolutionaries killed more Turkish civilians than the number of their own losses. This was the realgenocide which is immoral to deny

    2. It is immoral to speak about the sufferings of one party and turn blind eye to the much bigger and better-documented sufferings of the other party. It was a civil inter-communal war during which everyone was killing everyone. If Armenians suffered a genocide at the hands of Turks, then Turks suffered a double if not triple genocide at the hands of armed Armenians. Armenians were not innocent angels at all.

  16. There is indeed no consensus among specialists to support the “Armenian genocide” label. Quite the contrary, several studies, during the last decades, were devastating for this kind of interpration, especially “The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey’, by Guenter Lewy, or more recently “Ottomans and Armenians. A Study in Counterinsurgency”, by Edward J. Erickson. I wrote a paper with Dr. Pulat Tacar, regarding the legal aspects of this debate: http://www.ejil.org/pdfs/23/3/2308.pdf

  17. .
    The number of intelligent replies here provide promising indication that the tide may finally be turning against this “international lie.”

    If we examine the voices above that are strident for the case of genocide, note the basis on emotion, not fact. The fourth respondent (Roma), for example, insists that the “exterminating 1.5 million” is a “well established fact.” Not only was 1.5 million around the entire Armenian population of the pre-war Ottoman Empire, but a million survived, according to pro-genocide forces such as Peter Balakian. The subtraction serves as the true Armenian mortality, and the cause of death was primarily famine and disease – not intentional murder. Famine and disease constituted the same manner in which most of the millions of Turks and Muslims lost their lives.

    Of that “Turkish” toll, half a million were murdered. As wonderful and fair as the article above was, if we may concentrate on this portion:

    “…The fact that certain crimes have not been characterised as genocide does not necessarily make them any less serious. The events painfully remembered by the Armenian people as Meds Yeghern (‘the Great Crime’) may well have constituted genocide.”

    The accent, in other words, is always on the suffering of the Armenians; note the almost apologetic tone almost requesting permission from the Armenians and their supporters that the terrible events of WWI should be construed as possibly less than a genocide.

    Once the evil caused by this false consensus of genocide opinion gets undone, the next step is to address “The Great Crime” committed by the Armenians. What no one stops to consider is that beginning in 1914, the Russians occupied giant stretches of eastern Anatolian territory. (As the French occupied Marash, after the war.) The Russians and the French either unleashed or permitted their Armenian soldiers upon a defenseless Muslim populace, their murderous spree lasting for about five years – in the case with the Russians, continuing after the Russians had left the war.

    The Armenians’ incentive for systematic mass murder was twofold: 1) Insure a majority of Armenians for postwar territory grants by the victorious Allies, and 2) Terrorist Dashnak-conditioned racial hatred that made Turks and Muslims less than human in the general Armenian mind.

    Half a million Turks and Muslims were, yes, “exterminated,” the same number as the total Armenian dead, the majority of whom died from general wartime conditions, and not murder. Not only did the Armenians murder, they did so often in the most sadistic ways. Accounts by their Russian allies who eyewitnessed such episodes are hair-raising.

    Giving at least equal weight to these unheard-of, or not-to-be-cared-about, victims is still far off from prejudiced European and American minds, but at least the ball has begun to roll.
    .

    1. “The Russians and the French either unleashed or permitted their Armenian soldiers upon a defenseless Muslim populace, their murderous spree lasting for about five years – in the case with the Russians, continuing after the Russians had left the war.”
      There were Armenian volunteers sentenced by Russian martial-courts for crimes against the Turkish/Muslim civilian population, including at least some death sentences (Mehmet Perinçek mentioned this fact yesterday in a lecture in Ankara; this is also in his books).
      Regarding the French, the accusation is baseless. I worked in the French archives, including the one of the military justice, and I found that’s wrong. Even the staunchly pro-Armenian Colonel Brémond, administrator of Cilicia from 1919 to 1920, gave, in July 1920, the order to hang the Christian (mostly Armenian) plunderers without trial. Yes: without trial. Five Armenians and one Assyrian have been executed this way in July and August 1920; another Armenian plunderer was shot to death when he tried to escape. There were also trials, from 1919 to 1921, and several death sentences (in addition to many more to hard labor) were pronounced, but I don’t want to give details here, since I will publish my findings later. What I can say, since I mentioned this fact an already published article, is that the Armenian Legion, after a series of partial purges in 1919, was fired and suppressed by the French government in 1920.

  18. .
    I commend Maxime Gauin’s excellent research. Yet the addressed phrase’s words contained “either unleashed or permitted.” There is nothing baseless about the fact that the Russians and the French let their Armenian soldiers loose upon defenseless Ottoman Muslim and Jewish civilians. In the case of the French, these Armenians were not merely “plunderers,” the implication being they happened to be Marash civilians, but partly, if not mostly, Armenians who came in with the French, constituting the French Armenian Legion – trained and uniformed units of the French military. (As for the choice of the word “plunderer,” not incidentally, our focus is not on those who looted properties, but on those who looted lives.)

    Both the French and the Russians were largely not happy with what the Armenians had done, and it is to the credit of some of the French (and Russian) commanders that punishment was levied on a few of the offenders. The point, however, is that the French should have known better; there were reported signs of their Armenian soldiers being unruly and uncontrollable, serving their own agenda rather than the dictates of the French, including some (drilled in their Dashnak hatred) making trouble with French soldiers from Africa simply because they were Muslims.

    It is true, at some point the French gave up on their Armenians’ reliability and disarmed them – the exact tactic used by the Ottomans on their own Armenian soldiers (highly ironic, given that the pro-genocide forces provide such as evidence of genocidal intent); fine points of the timeline as to when Armenian soldiers were officially not involved are left to those who scrutinize this matter in detail, but even if the Armenian Legion was completely fired by 1920, one may wonder whether the remnants of this small but trained army would have stood by the sidelines.

    If the French and the Russians could not control their Armenian soldiers, the French and the Russians bear great responsibility for unleashing or permitting them to wreak murderous havoc on an unarmed populace. If the French and the Russians – and, of course, most of the violence was caused in areas under Russian control; it is enticing, however, to not neglect French behavior, given the inexcusably illiberal and racist stance of France on the “Armenian genocide” – kept their Armenians on a leash, hundreds of thousands of innocents would not have been murdered, too many in the most unimaginable of ways.
    .

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