|July 25, 2005 | SwissInfo |
Turkey rejects Swiss genocide-denial inquiry
Turkey's foreign minister, Abdullah Gül, has criticised Switzerland
for briefly detaining a Turkish politician on suspicion of violating
Swiss anti-racism laws.
Doğu Perinçek, who is leader of Turkey's Workers' Party, has twice
denied that the killings of Armenians around the time of the First
World War amounted to genocide. He is the subject of two criminal
Under Swiss law, any act of denying, belittling or justifying
genocide is a violation of the country's anti-racism laws.
"It is not possible for us to accept these things to be done to the
leader of a political party in Turkey," Gül was quoted in the
"Do these actions suit a country like Switzerland?" he asked.
The public prosecutor of Winterthur questioned Perinçek on Saturday
for more than two hours after a news conference he gave on Friday in
Glattbrugg, near Zurich.
In the speech honouring the 82nd anniversary of the Treaty of
Lausanne, which fixed the borders of modern-day Turkey, Perinçek
called claims of genocide against the Armenians an imperialist lie,
Perinçek is also under investigation from authorities in canton Vaud
after a complaint from a Swiss-Armenian Society over a speech he gave
in Lausanne in May.
Gül described Saturday's questioning as "unacceptable" and
"absolutely contrary to the principle of free speech".
On Sunday, Perinçek repeated his denial of the Armenian genocide at
celebrations attended by about 2,000 Turks near the Beau-Rivage
hotel, scene of the treaty negotiations.
About 300 Kurds, who also marked the anniversary, demonstrated in
front of the Palais de Rumine where the treaty was signed.
Speakers criticised the treaty, which had "made a mockery of the hope
for freedom" of Turkish minorities.
Armenians say 1.5 million of their people were killed as the Ottoman
Empire forced them from eastern Turkey between 1915 and 1923. They
argue that this was a deliberate campaign of genocide by Turkey's
rulers at that time.
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 argued over the issue in the past.
In June, a Turkish cabinet minister postponed a visit to Switzerland
to protest against 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.
Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey had been scheduled to
travel to Turkey in 2003, but Ankara withdrew its invitation after
the parliament of a western Swiss canton recognised the killings of
Armenians in Turkey as genocide.