Greek Cyprus has officially made it a crime to deny that the Ottoman Turks committed genocide and crimes against humanity or war crimes against Armenian Turks in 1915, through a resolution passed in parliament today. This legislation opens up new opportunities for Turkey, as peace talks on the ethnically-split island remain stalled, but can now begin. As parliament speaker Yiannakis Omirou says, “Today is a historic day. It allows parliament to restore, with unanimous decisions and resolutions, historical truths.” It is says by Armenia that up to 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians were killed in the genocide, beginning in 1915, a number that turkey believes is inflated and lead to misconceptions. However, nearly 20 countries have recognized the killings as genocide. Further, the issue has long been a source of tension between Turkey and several Western countries, especially the United States and France, both home to large ethnic Armenian Diasporas. With this resolution passed and the idea that it does not interfere with freedom of expression, as it did prior, it is evident that tension will begin to ease and progress can be made in the future towards more unity and stability.
I find it surprising that a resolution like this would be passed. Although I find it significant and vital that all history with factual evidence is recognized, I do understand the implications it might include. For example, as seen in the article, I could see someone claiming that this resolution limits their freedom of expression and speech. However, I do think that when it comes to such serious issues, complex politics, especially concerning so many deaths, and international relations, parliament should be allowed and has the right to produce such a resolution. I have read many articles about people denying the holocaust, the Darfur genocide, and creating conspiracies. Although I am a strong supporter of freedom of expression, thought, and speech, I think that once there is ample evidence that puts stories into facts that turn into history, one’s denial is nearly arbitrary.
April 2, 2015