Denying a genocide is a right and a valid opinion

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Rarely do i respond to both friendly and enemy fire when the subject is as emotional as the word genocide. Friends and foes find it hard to understand when i queston the legality of the 1994 “genocide” in Rwanda. Some friendly fire usually comes from un-expected quarters, but that is a story for onother day.

I insist there are valid legal reasons the legal term “genocide” doesn’t apply to what happened in Rwanda in 1994. The fact that there was no evidence to prove planning of the “genocide” -a reason why senior army and civil leaders in the preceeding government were acquitted by the international Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda, makes genocide a legal impossibility. From an emotional point of view, i gladly accept the backlash. From a legal point of view, i give law its utmost worth.

Many friends and foes seem not to understand that even beyond the realm of law, there is a fundamental human right (call it a monster if you will) called the right to free expression. Two days ago, the European Court of Human Rights made it very clear that denying what is usually identified as a fact of common knowledge, doesn’t only constitute a crime but is also a valid opinion.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Switzerland violated a Turkish politician’s right to freedom of speech by convicting him for rejecting the claim that the 1915 Armenian killings in the Ottoman empire constituted a genocide.

The court, ECHR, concluded in its final binding judgement on Thursday October 15 that: “It was undisputed that Mr [Dogu] Perincek’s conviction and punishment, together with the order to pay compensation to the Switzerland-Armenia Association, had constituted an interference with the exercise of his right to freedom of expression,” a statement by the court said.

The case, arguably a milestone, pitted Switzerland, where denying the “Armenian Genocide” was a crime, against Perincek, the Turkish politician who publicly called it an “international lie” while he was in Switzerland in 2005.

He was convicted by a Swiss court in 2007 in a case filed by the Switzerland-Armenia Association.

The next year, Perincek took the case to the ECHR, a supranational human rights court with jurisdiction over 47 countries.

The court said that a country has a right to criminalise denial if they consider it an offence. However, application of it should not target people denying it [the genocide], but people who are trying to promote xenophobia, spreading atrocities, etc.

It therefore follows that those who, with valid reasons, question the exactness of events, have a right to do so. It is the same standard the African Court on Human and People’s rights should apply.

It is my informed opinon that the majority can be wrong. It is my informed opinion that whenever i find myself on the side of the majority, i step back and reflect. Without people who question the official narratives and propaganda, we would still be believing that the sun rotates around the world. On that note, we should let the Galileo Galiles of today, be. They have a valid opinion.

Didas Gasana

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