Swiss parliament rejects petition for recognition of 1915 as genocide

The Swiss parliament has rejected a petition asking it to grant genocide status to the killings of Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and a few other ethnic communities in 1915 by Ottoman Turks, on the grounds that “massacres should better be brought to light by historians.”
In response to a petition placed on the agenda of the Swiss national parliament on Dec. 23, the Swiss parliamentary commission on foreign policy ruled that facts surrounding massacres should better be left to historians for analysis, and that the active policy of Switzerland constitutes the best method to answer the call of the petitioners.

Switzerland does not constitutionally mention any ethnicities or historic events as genocides, but under the Swiss Penal Code, anti-racism has very severe repercussions and may be applied extensively by courts. Justifying genocide is considered a violation of the country’s legislation and was applied to Holocaust denial in the previous years.

A Turkish politician, DoÄŸu Perinçek, leader of the Workers’ Party (Ä°P), was charged with the same anti-racism law in 2007 when he uttered publicly in Lausanne that he was not denying the “Armenian genocide” because there was no genocide, although he agreed that a large number of people in both communities suffered heavy losses in 1915. He received a suspended sentence and a fine of close to $2,500, and his appeal at a Swiss court did not change the results.

An anti-racism law — including sentences for denial of genocide — was adopted in 2003 in the Swiss canton of Vaud, where Perinçek made his remarks in protest of the penal code. More than a dozen Turks were prosecuted on such charges a decade ago but were acquitted.