In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Human Rights affirmed the right of people to have freedom of thought and expression. The left-wing unionist, Dogu Perincek had been found guilty of a criminal offence in Switzerland for daring to challenge the propaganda that has become the “official view” in many European nations.
Many people are surprised that in a continent that prides itself as a bastion of individual freedom, it is illegal to question the accuracy of these claims Armenians were subjected to genocide from 1915-1919. Notwithstanding even obvious difficulties; such as the ever expanding number of alleged victims – from 600,000, to 900, 000, to today’s whopping 1.5-2 Million (with no attempt to substantiate these numbers), the ever expanding date range – initially 1915-1916, then 1915-1919, now (in a barefaced attempt to implicate the modern state of Turkey), 1915-1923, and the continuing reliance on forged documents and dubious claims about what Hitler was supposed to have said, governments in Europe remain completely credulous – willing to swallow anything the Armenian lobby feeds them. Mostly the reasons for this are domestic politics – playing to racial prejudice is going to be a vote winner in France, terrified by the growth of Islam within its borders. There is also the dread of Turkey’s inclusion in the European Union, something which nations such as France loathe for reasons of economics, and frankly, naked racism and bigotry.
So the Armenian issue is a convenient bludgeon to try to beat the Republic of Turkey with. Criminalising the dissent shows how little many European nations value the human rights of those who might think a little differently. So much for being guardians of liberty.
Fortunately, however, the justices of the Court of Human Rights take notions of free speech seriously. They have declared criminalising dissent from this official line to be a violation of a person’s human rights.
In coming to their view, the Court expressed serious doubts as to whether the claim of a Genocide could be substantiated. it also pointed to serious academic dispute on this issue, and unlike what our friends amongst the Armenian lobby would have us believe, the judges drew a sharp distinction between the Armenian claims, and the Holocaust. There was a “clear legal basis” for the crimes of the Nazis, something lacking in the claims Armenian pressure groups make against Turkey.
This judgement follows the judgement of the Spanish Constitutional Court, and the French Constitutional Court, that condemn the criminalisation of expressions of serious opinions. Governments must not criminalise dissent.
A great day for the advancement of civil and political rights. One hopes our politicians will actually take the time to read the judgement, or —official summary of it, before jumping on the bandwagon of “genocide recognition”.