STRASBOURG — The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held on Wednesday an appeal hearing launched by Switzerland against Turkey’s Workers’ Party (IP) Chairman Dogu Perinçek, who was convicted by a Swiss court for denying the Armenian Genocide, in a case that pits Turkey against Switzerland and Armenia, which is represented in Strasbourg by Amal Clooney, Geoffrey Robertson, Toby Collis and Armenia’s Prosecutor General Gevorg Kostanyan.
Perinçek participated in various conferences in Switzerland in May, July and September 2005, during which he publicly denied that the Ottoman Empire had perpetrated the crime of genocide against the Armenian people in 1915 and the following years. He described the idea of an Armenian genocide as an “international lie”.
“Switzerland-Armenia” association filed a criminal complaint against him on 15 July 2005. On 9 March 2007 the Lausanne Police Court found Perinçek guilty of racial discrimination within the meaning of the Swiss Criminal Code, finding that his motives were of a racist tendency and did not contribute to the historical debate. Mr Perinçek lodged an appeal that was dismissed by the Criminal Cassation Division of the Vaud Cantonal Court.
Perinçek won an appeal at the European court against the Swiss court decision. The ECtHR said in its Dec. 17, 2013, decision that the politician had exercised his “right to free speech.”
During the trial, attorney Jeffrey Robertson emphasized the fact that the modern world has to live freely, without hatred and discrimination. In his speech, Robertson referred to Talaat Pasha as the Turkish Hitler.
Amal Clooney touched upon the gloomy picture of freedom of speech in Turkey and human rights violations. Clooney also touched upon the murder of Hrant Dink, emphasizing the fact that it was committed by Turk nationalists.
Mrs Clooney said Turkey’s stance was hypocritical “because of its disgraceful record on freedom of expression”, including prosecutions of Turkish-Armenians who campaign for the1915 massacres to be called a genocide.
The human rights lawyer accused the Strasbourg’s court’s human rights judges of being “simply wrong”.
“It cast doubt on the reality of genocide that Armenian people suffered a century ago,” she said “Armenia must have its day in court. The stakes could not be higher for the Armenian people.”
“Armenia is not here to argue against freedom of expression anymore than Turkey is here to defend it. This court knows very well how disgraceful Turkey’s record on freedom of expression is. You have found against the Turkish government in 224 separate cases on freedom of expression grounds.” Mrs Clooney concluded.