|July 24, 2005 | The Associated Press |
Swiss authorities investigating Turkish politician
accused of violating anti-racism laws
WINTERTHUR, Switzerland (AP) - A criminal investigation has been
launched into a Turkish politician suspected of violating Swiss
anti-racism laws by denying that the killings of Armenians around the
time of World War I amounted to genocide, authorities in Switzerland
Dogu Perincek, former chairman of Turkey's Workers' Party, is accused
of denying genocide during a speech held last week in the Swiss town
of Opfikon-Glattburg, the prosecutor's office in the canton (state) of
Winterthur and the police department of Zurich said in a joint
In the speech to honor the 82nd anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne,
which fixed the borders of modern-day Turkey, Perincek called claims
of genocide against the Armenians an imperialist lie, authorities
Under Swiss law, any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide
is a violation of the country's anti-racism laws.
Armenians say 1.5 million of their people were killed as the Ottoman
Empire forced them from eastern Turkey between 1915 and 1923 - and
that this was a deliberate campaign of genocide by Turkey's rulers at
Turks say the death count is inflated and insist that Armenians were
killed or displaced as the Ottoman Empire tried to secure its border
with Russia and stop attacks by Armenian militants.
Switzerland and Turkey have squared off in the past over the killings.
In June, a Turkish Cabinet minister postponed a visit to Switzerland
to protest a Swiss investigation of a Turkish historian who made a
similar speech denying that the mass killings of Armenians in the
early 1900s amounted to genocide.
Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Swiss foreign minister, had been scheduled to
travel to Turkey in 2003, but Turkey withdrew its invitation after the
parliament of a western Swiss canton (state) recognized the killings
of Armenians in Turkey as genocide. Calmy-Rey visited Turkey in March.