The Russians appear to be moving in the aftermath of Turkey shooting down one of its fighters: it has targeted Turkish history in a new and abusive criminal law. Russian lawmaker Sergei Mironov said that his Just Russia party has proposed a bill that criminalizes the denial that the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces was a “genocide.” I previously wrote about a similar law passed in France as not just a denial of free speech but academic freedom. The law was later struck down. The Russians are moving just weeks after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Switzerland also violation freedom of speech for its criminalization of the denial of the killings of Armenians as genocide.
The Russian bill is clearly a peevish response to the Turkish engagement on the Syrian border. However, Mironov and his party wants to strike out against history and free speech in an act of retaliation.
“We have just submitted a bill on responsibility for failure to acknowledge the fact of a genocide of Armenians by Turkey in 1915,” Mironov, the leader of the opposition Just Russia party, said on his Twitter account, a day after the Turkish air force shot down a Russian jet.
Various respected academics have supported the claim of genocide by Turkey despite the denials of that country. However, this debate is not won by forcing those who disagree into forced silence. It is anti-intellectual. It is anti-free speech. It is wrong.
The latest case by the European Court of Human Rights found that Switzerland violated a Turkish politician’s right to freedom of speech by convicting Dogu Perincek for denying that the 1915 Armenian killings in the Ottoman empire constituted a genocide: “It was undisputed that Perincek’s conviction and punishment, together with the order to pay compensation to the Switzerland-Armenia Association, had constituted an interference with the exercise of his right to freedom of expression.”
The denial of the Armenian Genocide is officially outlawed in Turkey’s long-standing antagonist, Greece as well as Cyprus and Slovakia.
Baron Carl von Clausewitz said “War is a mere continuation of politics by other means.” It appears so is history.