Home / Video / Perinçek’s and Iravunk’s Trenches: Defending Insults Via Freedom of Expression

Perinçek’s and Iravunk’s Trenches: Defending Insults Via Freedom of Expression

Turks and Armenians can easily insult Armenians as long as the courts consider it an act of freedom of expression.

In one case, Turkish nationalist Doğu Perinçek qualifies the Genocide as an international lie and that “lie” is approved by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) Lower House, in another one, Iravunk paper calls on people to deny employment, stop greeting and show “zero tolerance” towards 60 Armenians because, according to the paper, they are “homo-addiction [homosexual] lobbyists.” In Yerevan the Court of General Jurisdiction agrees with the paper, citing article 10 of the European Convention, which states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which has also justified the Turkish figure’s case.

During the hearings of Perinçek vs. Switzerland case at ECtHR’s Upper House, Armenia’s representative Geoffrey Robertson turned to article 10 of the convention in his speech, noting that the article defends the right to live without prejudices, in order for people to be able to say “I am Armenian,” “I am Jewish,” or “I am Muslim” without any fear. For that reason, the same article has a clause which allows to legally limit expression in those cases, where one can or intends to cause a certain damage.

Amal Clooney, the other lawyer representing Armenia, brought attention to the fact that Armenia has no aim of arguing against freedom of expression, anymore than Turkey was there to defend it.

If we replace Turkey with Iravunk and Armenia with the 16 plaintiffs suing the paper, Clooney’s argument would have been fully justified if it had been voiced during the trial against Iravunk. The Iravunk paper targets and belittles those who are defended by article 10 and who say “I am Armenian,” “I am Jewish,” “I am Muslim.”

Considering the similarities between Perinçek and Iravunk, the slogan “We are all Iravunk,” which the paper uses to defend its right to free expression, could be viewed as “We are all Perinçek.”

If Iravunk’s case reaches the European Court, would Armenia, which is currently trying to convince the Upper House that Perinçek’s actions bear absolutely no connection with freedom of expression, continue with the same fervor to claim Iravunk’s right to freedom of expression?

In 2007, a Switzerland court found Turkish Worker’s Party leader Doğu Perinçek guilty of racially motivated prejudice when denying the Armenian Genocide. Perincek appealed the case to the ECtHR, whose Lower House later justified his action. However, Switzerland has appealed the verdict to the ECtHR’s Upper House, where the case is still being examined. Armenia is represented as a third party in the case.

In 2014, the Iravunk paper published an article titled “They serve the interests of international homo-addiction [sic] lobbying: the blacklist of the country’s and nation’s enemies”, which included a black list of 60 individuals' names, calling for people to show “zero tolerance” towards them, deny employment, fire them from civil service jobs, and not greet them on meeting.

Iravunk referred to those people, who during a Facebook Press Conference organized by Azatutyun radio had criticized 2014 Eurovision’s Armenian national jury members and singers Inga and Anush Arshakyan for uttering their “disgust” toward Austrian singer Conchita Wurst. 

16 of the 60 people collectively submitted a suit to the court, claiming their honor and dignity were sullied, however the court considered the suit to be insufficient. The citizens have appealed the verdict to the Court of Appeals. 


Pictured Doğu Perinçek