by Maxime Gauin
On January 28, the hearing of the Perinçek v. Switzerland case will take place in front of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. This is one of the most important cases regarding the freedom of expression in Europe during the last decades.
In short, the story is the following. In 1995, Switzerland adopted a law (integrated in the criminal code as Article 261 bis) banning the expression of racism, as well as the negation, the justification or the “crude minimization” of genocide (without precise references to what exactly must be called “genocide”). Six years later, the Switzerland-Armenia Association—ASA, created in 1992 by James Karnusian, the very same man who established, in early 1970s, the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation (ASALA), an anti-Turkish, anti-Semitic, anti-French terrorist organization—began its attempts to misuse this Swiss anti-denial law, suing some persons who had “denied” the accusations of “Armenian genocide.” The ASA failed twice, but won in 2007 against Doğu Perinçek, a controversial Turkish politician who had stated in Switzerland: “Armenian genocide is an imperialist lie.” Mr. Perinçek filed an application to the European Court of Human Rights and the Court found him right, ruling that Switzerland had violated his freedom of expression. Unable to admit its fault and violating its promises made to Ankara, Switzerland filed an application to the Grand Chamber.