Cyprus is following the precarious path of countries like France and Russia in criminalizing one side of the historical debate over the genocide of Armenian Turks by Turkey. It is now a crime to deny that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenian Turks a century ago, according to a resolution passed Cypriot parliament. While a French court later struck down its law, the addition of Cyprus among countries criminalizing historical debates is chilling and disconcerting.
We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. We have seen comedians targets with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here).
Chillingly, the criminalizing of speech is something that was the subject of celebration in Cyprus. The Speaker of parliament Yiannakis Omirou declared “Today is a historic day. It allows parliament to restore, with unanimous decisions and resolutions, historical truths.” Of course, it depends on whose “historical truths” we are talking about . . . or who decides what the truth may be. The problem with such laws is that it creates an insatiable desire to support other “truths.” Ironically, Erdogan government in Turkey shows just how such an appetite for repression of contrary thoughts and views can overwhelm a nation. Erdogan is now the world’s leading advocate for the suppression of free speech and the free press.