Denial and Freedom of Speech

Poster calling for Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915
General Assembly resolution 260 (III) of 9 December 1948 (Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide) states, that (a) Genocide, (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide, (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide, (d) Attempt to commit genocide and (e) Complicity in genocide are all acts, which shall be punishable.
Gregory Stanton, the president of Genocide Watch,  suggests, that genocide develops in 8 stages.  What I’m most interested in is the 8th stage – Denial.
“DENIAL is the eighth stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. […] The response to denial is punishment by an international tribunal or national courts.”
Coming back to General Assembly resolution 260 (III) and considering Stanton’s description of denial, I would argue, that denial is “complicity in genocide” which should be punished.
The lower chamber of France’s Parliament adopted a draft bill that aims at criminalizing public statements denying genocides. Turkey, a country which has been denying the Armenian Genocide it committed for around 100 years now, has reacted furiously to this move of the French National Assembly and called it a limitation of freedom of speech. France’s move has been criticised by others as well, while French president Nicolas Sarkozy has said Ankara cannot teach his country any “lessons.”
Given the definitions I brough above, it seems to me, that France is holding the moral high ground and it is ridiculous to confuse denial – something that constitutes a genocidal act, with freedom of speech. It is similar to giving false testimony about a crime and claiming, that you’re simply exercising your freedom of speech.
PS: I can at least understand when Turks deny genocide and invent the ‘freedom of speech’ argument to justify their denial. But when representatives of other nationalities and especially Armenians bring up the argument, I simply lose patience.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. I think it depends on the details of the law. i.e. what denial means. If it is a complete taboo then people will fear to discuss certain aspects of it, which may lead to forgetting the historical facts. That’s what Turkey wants.
    Personally I think banning things is not a good approach, it is a shortcut that undermins the actual problem. Education and informing people is a better way. If France is so sincere they could pass a law for allocating resources for educating and informing their citizens about Armenian Genocide.

    1. Well, I wrote this blog-post just to learn some things and to listen to opinions on what people think of the issue.
      I think, that the Armenian Genocide was a one of the largest crimes humanity has seen and its state-backed denial (the way contemporary Turkey is doing) is like giving false testimony about a crime in court. I know Turkey’s leaders know very well,that their predicessors indeed committed a genocide so what they are doing is bluntantly lying.
      So, viewing at things from that angle, I think, that we’re not talking about a freedom of speech issue here, but rather at an example, when someone is committing more crimes (denial) to justify the greater crime that happened in the past and opening way for more genocides in the future.

      1. to simplify things – if lying in court is punishable, lying about a genocide should be punishable too

      2. Definitly there is no issue of curbing freedom of speech here. It is not banning any freedom of expression. It is banning possible promotion and justification of crime.
        However banning things by a law is not always the best way in my opinion.
        The main achievement of this law that i can see is that it displays the Turkish state attitude, primitivism and valnurability. I only wish that the Armenian government was competent enought to use this occassion for asserting pressure on Turkey.

  2. By the way the picture is completly wrong. The Turkish red flag was adopted in 1936. It is not the ottoman Empire flag.
    I would suggest to title it History of Turkey rather than Ottoman Empire history.
    Such uneducated things may discredit the Genocide cause.

    1. This is the last flag of the Ottoman Empire from 1844 to 1923 was adopted with the Tanzimat reforms as the first official Ottoman national flag?

      1. The ottoman flag is very similar but not the one in the poster.

      2. Ottoman crescent is wider.

    2. I have no relation to that graphic – it is just something I found on the web. And btw – thanks for the info on the Turkish flag – I had no idea!

      1. yes I saw this poster in other places. The idea behind it is pretty good. however I would title is History of Turkey as Ottoman empire doesnt exist anymore but Turkey is still the continuation of it hence responsible for Armenian genocide.

  3. @Observer
    oh oh, you can’t blog about GENOCIDE
    that’s a big no-no by gor-gor standards
    we ARmenians are not allowed to blog, deliberate, and/or argue on anything about GENOCIDE. that’s a the gor-gor profiting making tool, only ‘they’ are allowed to deliberate and scream GENOCIDE….apparently we ARmenians are not allowed to as forbidden by gor-gor standards & rules

    1. True, you are not allowed because you are too dumb for such subjects, and probably a Turkish Azeri spy, we can smell you from far away, that’s why your butt was kicked out of Armenian orgs. Just stick to your medical fraud billing business and get out of the way from Armenian progress.

      1. truth is this guy is avictim of medical fraud business. If he took his proper medications he would havebeen normalised by now.
        That being said, I find it an honor when people of Hayastan show solidarity with the Armenian cause. Afterall, we are one people.
        The spies will always want to split us apart.
        The battle of Hayk and Bel is still ongoing.

        1. Good point Hayk. We must always resist wicked people who want to separate Hayastanci Armenians from the outside. There is no way I accept anyone like this guy talking trash as a “real Armenian”. Without unity among Armenians the Turks and Azeris will achieve their goal, and our future will be at stake. That’s the number one goal of Azeris and Turks, to create a division. To me knowing Armenian history, all Armenians once came from the same region, and that is all I need to know we cannot be separated because we are all one people. To me, the most important thing for me living outside Armenia is to see my homeland become successful and overcome all enemies.

  4. I guess the outcome would be Turkish diplomats never visiting France.
    Is there still a Turkish Embassy in Paris? If so I would suggets asking 10 French citizens to send letters to the embassy asking about their opinion about the Armenian genocide. Naturally they would deny it hence making the Turkish givernment 420000 Euros poorer 🙂

  5. This is an Armenian editor in Turkey who is critisizing the bill.
    but, what should one expect? They live in Turkey and cannot say otherwise
    Erdogan threated the deportation of 100 000 Armenian illegal immigrants from Turkey.
    If Armenia forgets the past and makes peace with Turkey opens border, it willbe swallowe demographically.
    If Armenia and Turkey stay enemies, whenever the Russians pull the carpet, Turkey will march over Armenia and connect to Azerbaijan.
    Things are very difficult to Armenians. I hope this bill passed by the Franch will bring some international awareness to forbid Turkey repeating 1915

  6. @ Observer,
    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein
    For 96 years Armenia still hasn’t received an apology or even a wrong doing for the crimes Turkey committed. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians weren’t able to get America to say a word, a single word; Genocide. You need to play the role of a bully against a bully. I think Armenia and Armenians around the world have been way too civil about the atrocities committed 96 years ago. When Israel killed the Turkish activists on the flotilla, they played the role of a bully and have gotten away with it. I’m sick of hearing people bring up freedom of speech. If Turkey doesn’t allow freedom of speech, then you give them a taste of their own medicine. You fight fire with fire!! And also, many people around the web have brought up the fact that Hrant Dink was against France adopting this law(which still isn’t a law). Hrant Dink was a very smart man, but his murder alone, and the acts that followed, prove that Turkey is not a country where freedom of speech is allowed. So for all you Armenians who bring up freedom of speech, I disagree with you only because Turkey itself doesn’t allow it in their country.

  7. @Observer,
    To everyone who is crying freedom of speech, 19 government officials have been acquitted from the murder of Hrant Dink. History just repeated itself.

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