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ECtHR judgment in case of Perinçek v. Switzerland

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit's letter to Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, General Secretariat, Federal Department of Justice and Police, Bern, Switzerland.

26 February 2014

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit's letter to Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, Bern, Switzerland.

Dear Federal Councillor Sommaruga,

Greetings from the World Council of Churches!

It is with great concern that we were informed of the ECtHR judgment in the case of Perinçek v. Switzerland, issued on December 13, 2013.We are aware that both the Swiss National Council (2003) and the Federal Tribunal on two different occasions (2007 & 2010), have clearly recognized the Armenian Genocide as a historical fact.

The WCC has addressed the need for public recognition of the Armenian Genocide in 1984, when it published a document called Armenia: the Continuing Tragedy which helped in making known the history and plight of the Armenian people. Moreover, the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the WCC raised the issue of the Armenian Genocide in the UN Commission on Human Rights with reference to the latter’s “Revised and Updated Report on the Question of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”.

The WCC believes that from the Christian perspective, the path towards justice and reconciliation requires the recognition of the crime committed as a sine qua non condition for the healing of memories and the possibility of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting but to look back with the intention to restore justice, the respect for human rights and relationships between perpetrators and victims.

On 24 April 2015, we will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. We would therefore urge the Swiss government to make use of its right to appeal the ECtHR judgment, which constitutes an affront to the memory of the victims of the Armenian genocide and their descendants. This is an issue of great ethical and social significance, which reminds us all of our shared responsibility to work together for the elimination of discrimination and prejudice and for the prevention of genocide and crimes against humanity for the benefit of future generations.

Sincerely yours,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary