Armenian Genocide denial

Wayback Machine Yair Auron Genocide denial

Armenian Genocide denial is the denial of the planned systematic genocide of up to 1.5 million Armenians during World War I, conducted by the Ottoman government. Turkish nationalists similarly deny the Assyrian and Greek genocides of the same period.

The Armenian Genocide is almost unanimously acknowledged as a historical fact by historians and genocide scholars alike.[1] It is also widely considered to have been the first modern genocide,[2][3] with the word genocide itself having been invented in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin to describe partly the Holocaust and partly the previous similar instances, one of them being the sheer scale and success of the plan organized to systematically eliminate the Armenians.[1][4] Deniers argue that claims of genocide are anti-Turkish propaganda or a conspiracy spread by Armenians; they may claim that the events of the genocide either did not occur or that they were justified at the time.[1][5]

Denial of the Armenian Genocide is officially outlawed in Switzerland, Greece,[6][7] Cyprus,[8] and Slovakia.[9]

Currently, only the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan deny that there was an Armenian genocide, while Pakistan refuses to recognize the state of Armenia.[10][11][12] Many other countries, most controversially the United States (pressured by the Turkish lobby, and, in the past, the Anti-Defamation League),[13][14][15] have deliberately avoided officially recognizing it as a genocide in order not to disturb Turkey–United States relations.[1][16] The Turkish government has spent millions of dollars on Washington lobbying over the past decade, much of it focused on the Armenian genocide issue,[17] and has in the past threatened politicians from other countries with strong retaliation to prevent them from using the word genocide.[18][19][20] The Turkish Republic has also been accused of attempting to intimidate and silence foreign investigative journalists and genocide scholars.[21][22]


According to historian Yair Auron, "there can be no doubt about the fact of [Armenian] genocide itself. In this sense, the denial of the Armenian genocide is very similar to the denial of the Holocaust."[23]

Of the notable scholars that dispute its designation, Bernard Lewis, Stanford Shaw and Guenter Lewy acknowledge the historical event and its implications but reject a genocidal intent in favor of "uniqueness" of the Holocaust as only true genocide.[citation needed] Justin McCarthy, Heath Lowry and Eberhard Jäckel reject the designation altogether, and have met much criticism and accusations from other scholars as promoting Armenian Genocide denial.[24]

The term "genocide"

The term "genocide" was coined by the Polish Jew Raphael Lemkin in 1943, who had escaped Nazi rule, although the full extent of the Holocaust was not yet known at the time. Genocide comes from the Greek words "genos" and "ktonos" which means race killing. He later used it to describe what he had heard about the Armenian Genocide: in a 1949 CBS interview with Quincy Howe, Lemkin explained, "I became interested in genocide because it happened so many times. It happened to the Armenians, then after the Armenians, Hitler took action."[25]

Genocide convention

Turkish denialists claim that the "intent to destroy" clause of the Genocide Convention has not been met, and that it is therefore not a genocide.[26][further explanation needed]

After vague claims made by a speaker from the United Kingdom, Geoffrey Robertson, a noted British barrister and specialist in the field of human rights, observed that the British government refused to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide by saying that evidence for it was "not sufficiently unequivocal". He pointed out that this phrase 1) was an oxymoron and 2) represented an invented standard of proof. He explained: "There are only two standards of proof in UK law: the civil standard (on the balance of probabilities; i.e. more likely than not) and the criminal standard (beyond reasonable doubt)". He further observed that recent British governments have not taken into account that the terms used by the British government of the time in referring to 1915 entirely anticipated the modern definition of genocide and that the drafters of the Genocide Convention had 1915 in mind when drafting the new international crime.[27]

The term "deportation"

Currently, regarding the activities performed under the Tehcir Law of May 1915, the Republic of Turkey rejects the use of the word "deportation" and "refugee". Turkey instead uses the words "relocation" and "immigrant", respectively. Turkey claims in its state-supported Views Against Genocide Allegations that all the destination regions were within the Ottoman Empire's borders, and that the Ottoman government recognized these "immigrants" as its citizens and took extensive measures to record the type, quantity, and value of their property, as well as the names of the owners and where they were sent.[28]

Turkish government position

In 2016 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "Our attitude on the Armenian issue has been clear from the beginning. We will never accept the accusations of genocide". The Turkish government does not deny that many Armenians were killed by the Ottoman military, but disputes the death toll, and emphasizes that there were deaths on both sides during World War I.[29]

Scholars give several reasons for the Turkish government's denial including the preservation of national identity, but also territorial concerns (called "Sevres Syndrome"). Turkey's territorial concerns are exacerbated by Armenia's refusal to recognize Turkey's eastern borders. Another reason is the demand for reparations.[30] Armenian diaspora groups have in recent years become more focused on financial reparations. The Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group has released a study that was partly funded by Armenian advocacy organizations which includes various recommendations for how to calculate a possible reparations package. Genocide scholar Henry C. Theriault who chaired the panel has said that the question of reparations is "obviously a pretty central one". The Turkish government position is that reparations do not need to be paid for the events of 1915. Human rights historians have said that recognition by Turkey would undermine any legal defense Turkey might have to future compensation claims.[31]

Taner Akcam has written the following:[32]

In Turkish discourse, the following argument is commonly heard: "If we accept the Genocide, then the claim for reparations will soon follow." It shows that the main fear is not what we should call the event, but what comes after the event.

According to Fatma Müge Göçek, many Turkish journalists have viewed the issue of recognition as "an imposition on the Turkish state and society, one that would solely benefit the Armenians". In one editorial a Turkish journalist wrote "If you once acknowledge, then see what will happen next? From demands for restitution to land...".[33]

Efforts at rebuttal

The Ottoman Empire wanted to remove the threat of Armenian resistance and the Turkish authorities today hold the position that the deaths incurred by Armenians as a whole were the result of the turmoil of World War I and that the Ottoman Empire was fighting against Russia, Armenian volunteer units, and the Armenian militia. However, the Armenians had neither a police force nor an army.[34] Heather Rae noted that scholars have long been denied access to Ottoman archives, which Turkish sources often refer to in their works. In the late 1980s access was granted to some archives by the Turkish government, but it appears that the material was limited and the government took a very selective approach to who was allowed to study the material.[35][36] Historian Taner Akcam also writes about the "careful selection" of Ottoman archive materials. "While we are missing a significant portion of these papers, what remains in the Ottoman archives and in court records is sufficient to show that the CUP Central Committee, and the Special Organization is set up to carry out its plan, did deliberately attempt to destroy the Armenian population".[37]

Inter-ethnic violence

According to McCarthy, the genocide was a two sided battle: "when they [the Armenians] advanced victoriously under the protection of the Russian Army, the same spectacle occurred as in 1915, but this time it was Turks who were attacked by Armenians, aided and possibly commanded and directed by Russia."[38]


The Turkish authorities maintain the position that the Ottoman Empire did not exercise the degree of control which the opposing parties claim. Turkey accepts that there were Armenian deaths as a result of Ottoman decisions, but states that the responsible Ottoman bureaucrats and military personnel were tried. Bernard Lewis believes that what he names the "tremendous massacres"[39] were not "a deliberate preconceived decision of the Ottoman government".[40]



Turkish scholars and other denialists reject the Western European consensus of up to 1.5 million Armenian deaths attributed to the genocide. McCarthy calculated an estimate of the pre-war Armenian population, then subtracted his estimate of survivors, arriving at a figure of less than 600,000 for Armenian casualties for the period 1914 to 1922.[41] However, in a more recent essay, he projected that if the Armenian records of 1913 were accurate, 250,000 more deaths should be added, for a total of 850,000.[42]

McCarthy's numbers were highly criticized by academia for underrepresenting the actual numbers. Some of them, like Frédéric Paulin, have severely criticized McCarthy's methodology and suggested that it is flawed.[43] Hilmar Kaiser[44] another specialist has made similar claims, as have professor Vahakn N. Dadrian[45] and professor Levon Marashlian.[46] The critics not only question McCarthy's methodology and resulting calculations, but also his primary sources, the Ottoman censuses. They point out that there was no official statistic census in 1912; rather those numbers were based on the records of 1905 which were conducted during the reign of Sultan Hamid.[47] While Ottoman censuses claimed an Armenian population of 1.2 million, Fa'iz El-Ghusein (the Kaimakam of Kharpout) wrote that there were about 1.9 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire,[48] and some modern scholars estimate over 2 million. German official Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter wrote that fewer than 100,000 Armenians survived the genocide, the rest having been exterminated (German: ausgerottet).[49] :329–30

Conflict resolution

The Turkish authorities have put forth certain conditions before attempting to reconcile with Armenia. Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 following the Nagorno-Karabakh War between Armenia and Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan. The borders have remained closed because the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute has not been settled to this day.[50]

In 2005 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invited Turkish, Armenian and international historians to form a commission to reevaluate the events of 1915 by using archives in Turkey, Armenia and other countries.[51] Armenian president Robert Kocharian responded,

Your proposal to address the past can't be effective if it does not refer to the present and the future. To start an effective dialog, we should create a favorable political environment. The governments are responsible for the development of bilateral relations, and we have no right to delegate that responsibility to the historians. Thus, we have proposed and we again propose to establish normal relations between our countries without preconditions. In this regard, an inter-governmental commission can be formed to discuss the outstanding issues to resolve them and maintain mutual understanding.[52][53]

There has been two major attempts on Turkish-Armenian "reconciliation", which both have failed mainly due to the controversy over the Armenian Genocide. In both cases, namely the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (2000–2004) and the "2009 Protocols" (Zurich Protocols), the mediators did their best to keep the issue of the Armenian Genocide out of the context of the rapprochement. However, it soon turned out that it would be naive to enter such a process without speaking about the elephant in the room, the diametrical position of the respective side on the issue of the Armenian Genocide.[54]:211 Subsequently, it would be justified to assert that as long as the official denialist policy exists, it would be extremely difficult to talk about a reconciliation which indeed would rather require a "common narrative" than a contradictory.[54]:104

Documentation and historical study

The Concerned Scholars and Writers says the Turkish government attempts "to sanitize its history now include the funding of chairs in Turkish studies – with strings attached – at American universities".[55]

Talat Pasha telegrams

Many references that cite genocidal intent use the "Talat Pasha telegrams", which are a series of documents by the Interior Minister Mehmed Talat Pasha, to constitute concrete evidence that the deaths were implemented as a state policy. Pasha was tied to the "Kill every Armenian man, woman, and child without concern" order in these documents.[56]

Denialism by prominent figures

The 69 American historians – the "Lewis Affair"

On 19 May 1985, The New York Times and The Washington Post ran an advertisement in which a group of 69 American historians called on Congress not to adopt the resolution on the Armenian Genocide.[57] Bernard Lewis, along with Heath Lowry, was among them and so the case was named after him.[57][58][59] The advertisement was paid for by the Committee of the Turkish Associations.[57][60] Both Lewis and Lowry have been included among the key deniers of the Armenian Genocide.[61][62] According to Roger W. Smith, Eric Markusen and Robert Jay Lifton, Lowry was also advising on how to prevent mention of the Armenian Genocide in scholarly works, and was discovered ghost writing for the Turkish ambassador in Washington on issues regarding the Embassy's denial of the Armenian Genocide.[63] The Armenian Assembly of America found that many or most of the 69 academics apparently benefited directly or indirectly from Turkish government research grants.[64][65] According to Yair Auron, an Israeli historian, scholar and expert specializing in genocide studies and racism, this advertisement is a good example of one of many Turkish attempts to influence academia, a project on which Turkey has spent enormous funds.[66]

After publication of the statement, professor Gérard Chaliand of Paris V – Sorbonne University expressed disappointment that Lewis had signed. Lewis responded that the statement was an attempt to avoid damaging Turkish-American relationships and that it included a call for Turkey to open its archives, but the former was not mentioned in the statement.[57] Some of the other signatories confessed later that there are deliberate attempts by the Turkish government and its allies to muddle and deny the issue. Others confirm that there have been massacres but say they avoid the use of the term Genocide.[67] However, Henry Morgenthau Sr. wrote that "When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact."[68]

In October 2000, when the House of Representatives of the US was to discuss the resolution on the Armenian Genocide, Turkish politician Şükrü Elekdağ admitted that the statement had become useless because none of the original signatories besides Justin McCarthy would agree to sign a new, similar declaration.[69][70]

The resignation of Donald Quataert

One of the 69 signatories of the 1985 statement to the US Congress was Donald Quataert. In 2006, he resigned from the position of the chairman of the board of directors of the Institute of Turkish Studies, which he had held since 2001. As he announced, he had to resign due to the pressure of the Turkish ambassador Nabi Şensoy after he characterised the massacres of Armenians in Turkey as genocide. Şensoy rejected the allegations. Quataert's resignation created a scandal in academia and a number of members of the board of directors of the Institute resigned as well after the announcement. Mervat Hatem the director of Middle East Studies Association addressed the Prime Minister of Turkey Erdogan a harsh letter, whereby he expressed grave concerns with the announcements of Turkish officials to stop the financing of the Institute if Quataert didn't renounce his assessments publicly. Hatem also noted, that "the resignations are in contradiction with those many requests to leave the discussion and the assessment of the Armenian Genocide to the academia (instead of discussing it on the political arena) that Turkey has been making." According to the announcement by Quataert, the members of the board of directors on the Institute of Turkish Studies were surprised to find out, that the funding of the institute by Turkey is not a sign of trust but a gift, that can be annulled at any moment.[71][72][73]

Comparison with Holocaust and Israeli stance

Officially the state of Israel neither recognizes nor denies the Armenian Genocide. Politicians from primarily left wing and centrist parties such as Meretz and Kadima, but also occasionally right wing parties such as Likud, have been promoting recognition and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. This cooperation is significant since it includes activists and politicians who usually are on the opposing sides of the political spectrum.[74]

Yet the official line of all Israeli governments has been to keep the status quo, partially because of modern-day real-politik reasons. Right-wing party Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) claims that Genocide discussions would jeopardise Israel-Azerbaijan and Israel-Turkish relations and hurt close economic and military cooperation with them. These two countries are essential for Israel's regional policy and interests opposing Iran. In 2008, Yosef Shagal, an Azerbaijani Jew and now retired Israeli parliamentarian from Israel Our Home stated in an interview to Azerbaijan media (which officially denies the genocide): "I find it deeply offensive, and even blasphemous to compare the Holocaust of European Jewry during the Second World War with the mass extermination of the Armenian people during the First World War. Jews were killed because they were Jews, but Armenians provoked Turkey and should blame themselves."[75]

Despite this controversy, there are several prominent Armenian Genocide Memorials in the State of Israel.[citation needed] To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the genocide, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra performed music written by Armenian composers.[76] Many Israeli and Jewish historians also draw parallels between the genocides. Hebrew University scholar Yehuda Bauer wrote:[77]

The differences between the holocaust and the Armenian massacres are less important than the similarities—and even if the Armenian case is not seen as a holocaust in the extreme form which it took towards Jews, it is certainly the nearest thing to it.[77]

Israel's president Reuven Rivlin once campaigned for Israel to recognize the Armenian Genocide.[78] In 2012, he said "It is our moral duty to remember and remind of the tragedy that befell the Armenian people, who lost more than a million of its sons during the First World War, and we must not make this a political issue. I am aware of the sensitivity of this issue. But let us be clear: This is not an accusation of Turkey today or of the current Turkish government."[79] As president he has been less vocal on this issue. Concerned about the negative reaction of Turkey if the president signed the petition, unnamed officials of the Foreign Ministry welcomed what they called Rivlin's "statesmanship."[80]


The Islamist Hani al-Sibai cited Justin McCarthy's work while engaging in Armenian Genocide denial.[81]

Volkan Bozkır

Volkan Bozkır, while being the Turkish Minister for the European Union (EU) and also the leading negotiator in the Turkish accession talks to the EU denied there existed an Armenian Genocide. After the EU issued a draft for the Turkey progress report in 2015 including a demand that Turkey accepts that there existed an Armenian Genocide he declared that Turkey wouldn't answer a EU report containing the term Genocide.[82] Also in 2015, he criticized Pope Francis for including the term Genocide in a sermon he held in a mass at the basilica of St.Peters in Rome.[83] In June 2020 he was elected as the 75th President of the UN assembly[84]

Academic consensus condemning genocide denial

According to the Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, the denial of Armenian genocide is "the most patent example of a state's denial of its past".[85]

Historians mark that "the genocide of the Armenians has been denied to this day by successive Turkish governments, with the exception of the short-lived imperial government that existed between the end of World War I and the ascendance of the Kemalist nationalist regime in the early 1920s."[86] To deny the Armenian genocide "is like Holocaust denial, " notes Gregory Stanton, vice president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and president of Genocide Watch.[87]

According to Intelligence Report journal of Southern Poverty Law Center,

revisionist historians who conjure doubt about the Armenian genocide and are paid by the Turkish government provided the politicians with the intellectual cover they needed to claim they were refusing to dictate history rather than caving in to a foreign government's present-day interests.[88]

Mark Potok, the editor of Intelligence Report, wrote:

Some semi-official Turkish narratives now claim, in effect, that the Armenians actually carried out genocidal attacks on the Turks. Neo-Nazis and their scholarly enablers say that "the Jews" manufactured tall tales of the Holocaust in order to extort money and other concessions from postwar Germany. Neo-Confederates like Doug Wilson, a far-right pastor in Moscow, Idaho, tell their listeners with a straight face that the Civil War was nothing less than a defense of righteous Christian civilization and that blacks really didn't mind slavery. These lies all serve current agendas—to demonize and minimize the historical claims of Armenians, Jews, and African Americans.[89]

Colin Tatz, Professor of Macquarie University, considers the nature of Turkish denial industry as "pernicious, outrageous and continued": "Here is a modern state, totally dedicated, at home and abroad, to extraordinary actions to have every hint or mention of an Armenian genocide removed, contradicted, explained, countered, justified, mitigated, rationalised, trivialised and relativised."[90] In their book Criminological Perspectives, E. McLaughlin, J. Muncie and G. Hughes conclude:

If the Turkish government can deny that the Armenian genocide happened; if revisionist historians and neo-Nazis deny that Holocaust took place; if powerful states all around the world today can systematically deny the systematic violations of human rights they are carrying out – then we know that we're in bad shape.[91]

In 1990, psychologist Robert Jay Lifton received a letter from Nuzhet Kandemir, Turkish ambassador to the United States, questioning his inclusion of references to the Armenian Genocide in one of his books. The ambassador inadvertently included a draft of a letter, presented by denier Heath W. Lowry, advising the ambassador on how to prevent mention of the Armenian Genocide in scholarly works. Lowry was later named to the Atatürk chair of Ottoman Studies at Princeton University, which had been endowed with a $750,000 grant from the Republic of Turkey. The incident has been the subject of numerous reports as to ethics in scholarship.[92][93]

Another source notes:

In order to institutionalize this campaign of denial and try to invest it with an aura of legitimacy, a "think-tank" was established in Ankara in April 2001. Operating under the name "Institute for Armenian Research" as a subsidiary of The Center For Eurasian Studies, with a staff of nine, this new outfit is now proactively engaged in contesting all claims of genocide by organizing a series of conferences, lectures, and interviews, and above all, through the medium of publications, including a quarterly.[94]

Open University of Israel scholar Yair Auron has addressed the various means employed by the Turkish government to obscure the reality of the Armenian Genocide:[95]

Since the 1980s, the Turkish government has supported the establishment of "institutes" affiliated with respected universities, whose apparent purpose is to further research on Turkish history and culture, but which also tend to act in ways that further denial.

University of California, Los Angeles scholar Leo Kuper in a review on Ervin Staub's "The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence" research, wrote:[96]

The Armenian genocide is a contemporary current issue, given the persistent aggressive denial of the crime by the Turkish government-not withstanding its own judgment in courts martial after the first World War, that its leading ministers had deliberately planned and carried out the annihilation of Armenians, with the participation of many regional administrators.

According to American scholars Roger W. Smith, Eric Markusen and Robert Jay Lifton,[92]

The government of Turkey has channeled funds into a supposedly objective research institute in the United States, which in turn paid the salary of a historian who served that government in its campaign to discredit scholarship on the Armenian genocide.

"Given the indisputable documentary record of the Armenian genocide, it would appear that at least some of those who refuse to go on record recognizing Turkey's genocide of Armenians are, like those who refuse to recognize Germany's genocide of European Jews, motivated by ignorance and bigotry", claims American scholar Stephen Zunes.[97]

On 9 June 2000, in a full-page statement in The New York Times, 126 scholars, including Nobel Prize-winner Elie Wiesel, historian Yehuda Bauer, and sociologist Irving Horowitz, signed a document "affirming that the World War I Armenian genocide is an incontestable historical fact and accordingly urge the governments of Western democracies to likewise recognize it as such."[98]

Wiesel himself has repeatedly called Turkey's 90-year-old campaign to cover up the Armenian genocide a double killing, since it strives to kill the memory of the original atrocities.[88]

In an open letter by the "Danish Department for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the denial and relativization of the Armenian genocide", historians Torben Jorgensen and Matthias Bjornlund wrote:[99]

When it comes to the historical reality of the Armenian genocide, there is no "Armenian" or "Turkish" side of the "question, " any more than there is a "Jewish" or a "German" side of the historical reality of the Holocaust: There is a scientific side, and an unscientific side acknowledgment or denial. In the case of the denial of the Armenian genocide, it is even founded on a massive effort of falsification, distortion, cleansing of archives, and direct threats initiated or supported by the Turkish state, making any "dialogue" with Turkish deniers highly problematic.

Philip L. Kohl and Clare Fawcett write that the "Armenian cultural remains in neighboring Turkey are frequently dismissed or referred to as "Ottoman period" monuments", and that the continued denial of the state-sponsored genocide is "related to these practices".[100]

According to Taner Akçam, Turkey "tried to erase the traces of a recent past that had become undesirable" through a series of reforms, so the collective memory "was replaced by an official history written by a few authorised academics, which became the sole recognised reference. Events prior to 1928 and the writings of past generations became a closed book."[101]

In a lecture he delivered in June 2011, Akçam stated that he was told by a Turkish foreign ministry official that the Turkish government was trying to bribe historians and academics in the United States to deny the Armenian Genocide.[102] Though he did not make any direct accusations, he noted the timing between what his source said with the recent publication of American historian Michael M. Gunter's book Armenian History and the Question of Genocide. He also raised the point that the four individuals who praised Gunter's book – Hakan Yavuz of University of Utah, Guenter Lewy of University of Massachusetts, Jeremy Salt of Bilkent University, Ankara, and Edward J. Ericson of Marine Corps Command & Staff College, Virginia – "are well known for their denialist position and works regarding the genocide of 1915."[102]

In June 2008, in a petition signed by many world-renowned genocide scholars, calling to the Swedish Parliament to "Recognize the 1915 genocide for what it is".[103] The signatories pointed out to how refraining from acknowledging the scholarly findings was to tacitly support the denial policy of the Turkish State:

Refusal to recognize established fact, based on qualitative and quantitative research, may be regarded as being tantamount to denial. The researchers have done their job in establishing the reality of the Armenian Genocide. Now, the turn has come for the political leaders to fulfill their responsibility by recognizing this calamity for what it was.


Some countries, including Cyprus[8] have adopted laws that punish genocide denial. In October 2006, the French National Assembly, despite opposition from foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy,[104] passed a bill which if approved by the Senate would make Armenian Genocide denial a crime.[105] On 7 October 2011 French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Turkey's refusal to recognize the genocide would force France to make such denials a criminal offense.[106][107] On 22 December 2011, the lower house of the French legislature approved a bill making it a crime (punishable by a year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros) to publicly deny as genocide the killing of Armenians by troops of Turkey's former Ottoman Empire.[108] On 23 January 2012, the French Senate adopted the law criminalizing genocide denial.[109] However, on 28 February 2012, the Constitutional Council of France invalidated the law, stating, among other things, that it curbs freedom of speech.[110] After that the French President Sarkozy called on his cabinet to draft new legislation to punish those who deny that the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman troops is a genocide.[111] In 2016 the French Parliament adopted the new bill criminalizing the Armenian Genocide denial, which was put down by the French Constitutional Court in January 2017. The Council said the "ruling causes uncertainty regarding expressions and comments on historical matters. Thereby, this ruling is an unnecessary and disproportionate attack against freedom of speech."[112]

Legal issues in denial cases

The first person convicted in a court of law for denying the Armenian genocide is Turkish politician Doğu Perinçek, found guilty of racial discrimination by a Swiss district court in Lausanne in March 2007. At the trial, Perinçek denied the charge thus: "I have not denied genocide because there was no genocide."[113] After the court's decision, he said, "I defend my right to freedom of expression." Ferai Tinç, a foreign affairs columnist with Turkey's Hürriyet newspaper, commented, "we find these type of [penal] articles against freedom of opinion dangerous because we are struggling in our country to achieve freedom of thought."[114] Perinçek appealed the verdict. In December 2007, the Swiss Federal Court confirmed the sentence given to Perinçek.[115] Perinçek then appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, and in 2013 the Court ruled that Perinçek's freedom of expression, as enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, had been violated.[116] The European Court of Human Rights's Grand Chamber ruled in favour of Perinçek on 15 October 2015.[117][118] (see Perinçek v. Switzerland).

In October, 2008 the Swiss court ruled that three Turks were guilty of racial discrimination after having claimed that the Armenian Genocide was an "international lie." The European representative of the Party of Turkish Workers, Ali Mercan, was sentenced to pay a fine of 4,500 Swiss francs ($3,900), two others were ordered to pay 3,600 Swiss francs.[119] In October 2010, the Swiss Federal Court confirmed the verdict.[120] The verdict was appealed and in November 2017, at the case “Mercan and others vs. Switzerland”, European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled that the right of freedom of expression of had been violated and ruled that the Swiss government will have to pay a compensation amounting to 4,988 euros and 25,156 euros.[121][122]

In November 1993 American historian Bernard Lewis said in an interview that calling the massacres committed by the Turks in 1915 a genocide was just "the Armenian version of this history".[123] In a 1995 civil proceeding a French court censured his remarks as a denial of the Armenian Genocide and fined him one franc, as well as ordering the publication of the judgment at Lewis' cost in Le Monde.[124] The court ruled that while Lewis has the right to his views, they did damage to a third party and that "it is only by hiding elements which go against his thesis that the defendant was able to state that there was no 'serious proof' of the Armenian Genocide; consequently, he failed in his duties of objectivity and prudence by expressing himself without qualification on such a sensitive subject".[124]

Time DVD incident

In 6 June 2005 edition of Time Europe, the Ankara Chamber of Commerce included—along with a tourism in Turkey advertisement—a DVD containing a 70-minute presentation denying the Armenian Genocide. Time Europe later apologized for allowing the inclusion of the DVD and published a critical letter signed by five French organizations.[125] The apology stated that the DVD had not been adequately reviewed by anyone at Time Europe because it was believed to be a benign promotion piece, and that it would not have been distributed if the magazine had been aware of its content. The magazine described the DVDs contents as a "so-called documentary" that "presents a one-sided view of history that does not meet our standards for fairness and accuracy".[126][127] The 12 February 2007 edition of Time Europe included a full-page announcement and a DVD of a documentary about the Armenian Genocide by French director Laurence Jourdan, with an interview with Yves Ternon.[128]

Let History Decide Campaign

The Turkish government, in advance of the anniversary of 100 years from the genocide at 2015, has reverted to the position that the matter should be subject to further study by historians, sponsoring the website[129] The website was part of the wider "Let History Decide" campaign which has been organized by the Turkish American Steering Committee in the USA. The committee also launched the Twitter hashtag #lethistorydecide. The campaign had a strong social media presence, including Twitter (@historydecide), Instagram and Facebook. The main slogan of the campaign was: "Unite us, not divide us."[130]

The Ottoman Lieutenant

The film The Ottoman Lieutenant, co-produced in Turkey, was released around the period of that of the film The Promise, a film depicting the Armenian genocide.[131] The perceived similarities between the films resulted in accusations that The Ottoman Lieutenant existed to deny the Armenian genocide.[131][132]

See also


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  2. ^ Ferguson, Niall (2006). "Graves of Nations". The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West. The Penguin Press. pp. 177. ISBN 1-59420-100-5.
  3. ^ "A Letter from The International Association of Genocide Scholars". 13 June 2005. Archived from the original on 16 April 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2006. .
  4. ^ "Senate Resolution 106 – Calling on the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to Human Rights, Ethnic Cleansing, and Genocide Documented in the United States Record relating to the Armenian Genocide". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016.
  5. ^ A list of genocide denial websites Archived 22 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Southern Poverty Law Center
  6. ^ Lomsadze, Giorgi (10 September 2014). "Greece Bans Denials of Armenian Genocide". EurasiaNet. Open Society Institute. Archived from the original on 19 September 2014.
  7. ^ "Armenia praises Greece for law banning denial of genocide". Kathimerini. Agence France-Presse. 10 September 2014. Archived from the original on 19 September 2014.
  8. ^ a b Kambas, Michele; Butler, Daren (2 April 2015). Roche, Andrew (ed.). "Cyprus criminalizes denial of 1915 Armenian genocide by Turks". Reuters. Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Holocaust & Genocide Education | Armenia". University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts. Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Christopher Hitchens: Turkey Denies History". History News Network. The George Washington University. 5 April 2010. Archived from the original on 8 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  11. ^ "Радио Свобода: Наши гости: Факты и мнения". (in Russian). 17 February 2001. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2009.
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