STRASBOURG (Public Radio of Armenia) — Human rights lawyers Geoffrey Robertson QC and Amal Clooney issued a statement on the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision on October 14 in the case of Perinçek v Switzerland. The two represented the government of Armenia.
Another attorney, Prof. Payam Akhavan of McGill University in Canada, represented the NGO Coalition (Turkish Human Rights Association, Truth Justice Memory Centre and International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies).
The case pitted Dogu Perinçek, a center-left politician from Turkey, against the government of Switzerland. At stake was that he objected to the muzzling of what he called was his free speech by the Swiss government, which bans the denial of the Armenian Genocide. The judges pronounced that Perinçek was within his rights to deny the Armenian Genocide, however, they upheld the truth of the Genocide.
In a divided opinion, the majority of ten judges held that the Swiss judgment against Perinçek’s denial and minimization of these events violated his freedom of speech under the European Convention on Human Rights. However, seven judges, including the President of the Court, held that “the massacres and deportations suffered by the Armenian people constituted genocide are self-evident. The Armenian genocide is a clearly established historical fact. To deny it is to deny the obvious.” The majority of ten judges also confirmed “the massacres and mass deportations suffered by the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 onwards” and only differed in its view that it “has not authority to make legally binding pronouncements” on whether these events “can be characterized as genocide within the meaning of that term under international law”.
Said Akhavan in his statement, the court “clearly, unanimously, and emphatically confirmed the historical truth” of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.