Greek Cypriots urged to reconsider law about 1915 events
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe voices concern over Greek Cypriot's move to criminalize denial of Armenian allegations over 1915 events.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has expressed concern over the Greek Cypriot administration’s latest move to criminalize the denial of Armenian allegations over the events of 1915.

"While fully acknowledging the humanitarian intentions of this bill, I believe that this measure raises serious concerns about compliance with international freedom of expression standards,” the organization’s representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, said Thursday.

The new law, approved on April 2, imposes a five-year prison sentence and a €10,000 fine on anyone who denies allegations about the 1915 events involving the Ottoman Empire during World War I or any other war crime recognized as such by the Parliament.

"The authorities should have taken into consideration the right to openly discuss questions of a sensitive and controversial nature as one of the fundamental aspects of freedom of expression which distinguishes a tolerant and pluralistic democratic society from a repressive regime,” Mijatovic said.

The Greek Cypriot administration’s move -- which remains at odds with the Turkish side over the future of the divided island -- came in the very month when Armenia is planning to hold a mass commemoration ceremony in Yerevan to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1915 incidents on April 24.

1915 events

The 1915 events took place during World War I when a portion of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with the invading Russians and revolted against the empire.

A decision by the Ottoman Empire to relocate Armenians in eastern Anatolia followed the revolts and there were some Armenian casualties during the relocation process.

Armenia has demanded an apology and compensation, while Turkey officially refutes Armenian allegations over the incidents, saying that, although Armenians died during relocations, many Turks also lost their lives in attacks carried out by Armenian gangs in Anatolia.

The debate and differing opinions between present day Turkish government and the Armenian diaspora, along with the current administration in Yerevan, still generate political tension between Turks and Armenians.

Turkey's position

Ankara acknowledges that past experiences were a great tragedy and that both parties suffered heavy casualties, including hundreds of Muslim Turks.

Turkey also agrees that there were Armenian casualties during World War I.

In January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent invitation letters to more than 100 leaders, including Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, to participate in the commemoration of the Battle of Canakkale on April 24.

Sargsyan reportedly denounced Erdogan's invitation as an attempt to overshadow the 100th anniversary of the 1915 events, according to

Last Modified: 2015-04-10 10:42:14
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