|Agence France Presse -- English
July 31, 2005 Sunday 4:35 PM GMT
Turkish politician held over Armenian remarks calls Swiss law
A Turkish politician, who is under investigation in Switzerland for
saying that massacres of Armenians during World War I did not amount
to genocide, said the Swiss anti-racism laws were comparable to the
"medieval Inquisition" in a newspaper interview published Sunday.
The law threatens to damage relations between Switzerland and Turkey,
and should be done away with, Dogu Perincek, the leader of the small
leftist Turkish Workers Party, told the Swiss-German paper
The Swiss investigation of Perincek stems from remarks last week in
which he denyied the genocidal nature of the massacre of Armenians
under the Ottoman Empire, which has caused a diplomatic rupture
between the two countries.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul lodged a complaint with the
Swiss ambassador to Ankara, saying it was "unacceptable" to detain
Perincek was questioned by police last weekend in the Swiss town of
Winterthur, where he was taking part in activities marking the 82nd
anniversary of the Lausanne Treaty, the founding accord of modern-day
He allegedly said that the Armenian genocide was "an international
lie", a remark deemed racist under Swiss law.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in orchestrated
killings between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor
of Turkey, was falling apart.
In the Swiss newspaper interview, Perincek repeated that "there was
no genocide", in line with the Turkish government position which says
300,000 Armenians and as many Turks were killed in civil strife
during World War I when the Armenians, backed by Russia, rose up
against their Ottoman rulers.
The Turkish ambassador to Switzerland, Alev Kiril, warned against
stifling freedom of speech in an interview with another Sunday
newspaper, the NZZ am Sonntag.
"The fact that the Swiss authorities have opened such an
investigation is a serious concern for Turks living in Switzerland.
It tells them that they must keep quiet," he told the weekly paper.