WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES: ECtHR judgement an affront to memory of the victims of Armenian genocide

( – The World Council of Churches (WCC) has expressed “great concern” over the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment in the case of Perinçek v. Switzerland, recalling that the Swiss National Council and the Federal Tribunal in the past have clearly recognized the Armenian genocide as a historical fact.

The ECtHR judgment in December 2013 ruled in favour of Turkish politician Dogu Perincek in a lawsuit filed against Switzerland. Perincek is known to have repeatedly denied the Armenian genocide and was convicted by a Swiss court in 2008. Switzerland has a right to appeal against the ECtHR judgement.

In an official letter sent to the Federal Department of Justice and Police on 27 February, the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit urged “the Swiss government to make use of its right to appeal the ECtHR judgement, which constitutes an affront to the memory of the victims of the Armenian genocide and their descendants.”

Tveit called this an issue of “ethical and social significance” and a reminder of “working together for the elimination of discrimination and prejudice and for the prevention of genocide and crimes against humanity”.

In the past, the WCC has addressed the need for public recognition of the Armenian genocide, as when it published a document called Armenia: the Continuing Tragedy in 1984. The document helped in making known the history and plight of the Armenian people.

The WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs also raised the issue of the Armenian genocide at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

A Minute adopted at the WCC’s 6th Assembly in Vancouver in 1983 stressed the need to continue addressing the impact of the Armenian genocide.

“The silence of the world community and deliberate efforts to deny even historical facts have been consistent sources of anguish and growing despair to the Armenian people, the Armenian churches and many others,” the Minute stated.

Read the full text of the WCC general secretary’s letter here.

WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs