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Perinçek once more denies Armenian genocide

Doğu Perinçek addressed a rally in Lausanne last weekend

(Keystone)

Turkish politician Doğu Perinçek, under investigation in Switzerland for denying Armenian genocide, has compared Swiss law to that of the Inquisition.

In a newspaper interview published on Sunday, Perinçek repeated his revisionist views and called for Swiss anti-racism legislation to be scrapped.

The head of Turkey’s Workers’ Party told the SonntagsBlick that the legislation went against fundamental rights and the freedom of speech.

He added that as a result, Switzerland was losing Turkish friendship and respect from the rest of the world.

Under Swiss law, any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide is a violation of the country’s anti-racism laws.

Perinçek's party obtained 0.51 per cent of the vote in Turkey's last legislative elections in November 2002. There is therefore no party member in Turkey's Grand National Assembly.

Treaty of Lausanne

"There was no Armenian genocide," he told the SonntagsBlick. Perinçek had also expressed his revisionist views last weekend at celebrations in western Switzerland marking the anniversary of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which defined the borders of modern-day Turkey.

Perinçek said he knew that Switzerland had anti-racism laws but did not believe his remarks amounted to provocation. He felt "duty-bound" to express them.

The politician compared the threat of a conviction with his experiences in Turkish jails.

"Switzerland is worse than Turkey," he said.

Perinçek is the subject of two investigations into suspected violation of Swiss anti-racism laws. A similar investigation has been opened in the case of Turkish historian Yusuf Halaçoğlu.

Strong criticism

The Turkish government in Ankara has strongly criticised the Swiss action.

Switzerland’s ambassador to Turkey, Walter Gyger, was summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry on Wednesday, while Turkey’s envoy to Bern, Alev Kiliç was called to the Swiss foreign ministry the following day.

On Sunday, Kiliç warned against limiting the freedom of speech.

"The fact that the Swiss authorities open such investigations is a serious signal to Turks who live or come to Switzerland. It means they have to keep their mouths shut," he told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

A Swiss foreign ministry communiqué on Thursday said that the government had always "regretted and condemned the tragic deportations and massacres of Armenians" in the final phase of the Ottoman Empire.

The government also welcomed a suggestion from Ankara to create a commission of Turkish and Armenian historians to study the issue.

The House of Representatives is the only federal institution that has officially recognised the Armenian genocide.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Between 1915 and 1918, troops of the Ottoman Empire deported or killed between 800,000 and 1,8 million people of Armenian origin.
The massacre took place in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, which ended in 1923 with the founding of modern Turkey.
Turkey has never recognised genocide of the Armenians.

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In brief

In 2001 and 2003, cantons Geneva and Vaud recognised the massacres of Armenians in the First World War era as genocide.

The House of Representatives did the same in December 2003.

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey paid an official visit to Turkey in March this year, after it had been earlier cancelled by Ankara.

In April this year it was disclosed that justice authorities in Winterthur near Zurich were investigating Turkish historian Yusuf Halaçoğlu on suspicion of denying the genocide.

Earlier this month, the same authorities launched an investigation into remarks made by Turkish politician Doğu Perinçek.

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