Das EGHR-Urteil zu Perinçek: Freibrief für Genozidleugner?

ECHR Armenian Delegation 20151015_Internet

Der Fall Perinçek./. die Schweiz hat eine längere Vorgeschichte. Wir sind  anlässlich des Urteils der Kleinen Kammer des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte (EGMR) vom Dezember 2013 in „Perincek als Kämpfer für die Meinungsfreiheit? Ein anfechtbares ECHR-Urteil“ darauf eingegangen, auch auf die Person Perinçek, der als ausgeprägter Linksnationalist und glühender Anhänger von Talat Pascha sich einen Namen gemacht hat.

Fristgerecht hatte die Schweiz im März 2014 um Neubeurteilung durch die Grosse Kammer ersucht.

In der Zwischenzeit hatten sowohl die Republik Armenien als auch die Republik Türkei sowie der türkische Menschenrechtsverein IHD sich als Drittpartei eingeschaltet. So wurde am 28. Januar die Republik Armenien neben dem Generalstaatsanwalt Gevorg Kostanyan durch Geoffrey Robertson QC und Amal Clooney vertreten.

Ihr Plädoyer:

Die Große Kammer des EGMR (Dean Spielmann (Luxembourg), President, Josep Casadevall (Andorra), Mark Villiger (Liechtenstein), Isabelle Berro (Monaco), Işıl Karakaş (Türkei), Ján Šikuta (Slowakei), Päivi Hirvelä (Finnland), Vincent A. de Gaetano (Malta), Angelika Nußberger (Deutschland), Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos (Griechenland), Helen Keller (Schweiz), André Potocki (Frankreich), Helena Jäderblom (Schweden), Aleš Pejchal (Tschechien), Johannes Silvis (Niederlande), Faris Vehabović (Bosnien-Herzegowina), Egidijus Kūris (Litauen)) verkündete sein Urteil am 15. Oktober 2015. Mehrheitlich (10:7) kam die Große Kammer zum Ergebnis, dass hier „a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights“ vorlag.  Des Weiteren führte es an (diese und die folgenden Feststellungen aus dem Urteil geben die Mehrheitsmeinung wieder):

„Being aware of the great importance attributed by the Armenian community to the question whether those mass deportations and massacres were to be regarded as genocide, the European Court of Human Rights held that the dignity of the victims and the dignity and identity of modernday Armenians were protected by Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention. The Court therefore had to strike a balance between two Convention rights – the right to freedom of expression and the right to respect for private life –, taking into account the specific circumstances of the case and the proportionality between the means used and the aim sought to be achieved.“

Von besonderer Wichtigkeit sind diese Ausführungen:

„In particular, the Court took into account the following elements: Mr Perinçek’s statements bore on a matter of public interest and did not amount to a call for hatred or intolerance; the context in which they were made had not been marked by heightened tensions or special historical overtones in Switzerland; the statements could not be regarded as affecting the dignity of the members of the Armenian community to the point of requiring a criminal law response in Switzerland; there was no international law obligation for Switzerland to criminalise such statements; the Swiss courts appeared to have censured Mr Perinçek simply for voicing an opinion that diverged from the established ones in Switzerland; and the interference with his right to freedom of expression had taken the serious form of a criminal conviction.“

Wichtig ist die Aufgabenstellung, so wie die Mehrheit der Großen Kammer diese sah:

„The Court was not required to determine whether the criminalisation of the denial of a genocide or other historical facts could in principle be justified. It was only in a position to review whether or not the application of the Swiss Criminal Code in this case had been in conformity with Article 10.“
Demnach hatte sie sich eine sehr eng bemessene Aufgabe gestellt. Es ging ihr gar nicht darum festzustellen, ob die Armenier-Massaker von 1915 und später als Genozid betrachtet werden können oder nicht, sondern um etwas anderes:
„In its judgment, the Court underlined that it was neither required to answer that question, nor did it have the authority – unlike international criminal courts, for instance – to make legally binding pronouncements on this point.“
Doch warum behandelte das Gericht bisherige Leugnungen des Holocausts anders als im vorliegenden Fall? Dazu stellt die Kammer fest:

„For the Court, the justification for making Holocaust denial a criminal offence lies in the fact that, in the historical context of the States concerned (gemeint sind Deutschland, Österreich, Frankreich, Belgien), even if dressed up as impartial historical research, it has to be considered as implying anti-democratic ideology and anti-Semitism. The Court considers that Holocaust denial is especially dangerous in States which have experienced the Nazi horrors and which can be regarded as having a special moral responsibility to distance themselves from the mass atrocities that they have perpetrated or abetted, by, among other things, outlawing their denial. By contrast, it has not been argued that there was a direct link between Switzerland and the events that took place in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and the following years.“

Neben der Mehrheit von 10 Stimmen gab es auch eine sehr starke Minderheit von sieben Stimmen, darunter der Kammerpräsident Dean Spielmann, die ganz andere Einsichten hatte (Spielmann, Casadevall, Berro, De Gaetano, Sicilianos, Silvis, Küris).

Zwei sind besonders bemerkenswert und werden hervorgehoben:

2. First of all, we note the decidedly timid approach on the Court’s part in reiterating the Chamber’s position that it is not required to determine whether the massacres and deportations suffered by the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Empire can be characterised as genocide within the meaning of that term in international law, but also that it has no authority to make legally binding pronouncements, one way or the other, on this point (see paragraph 102 of the judgment). That the massacres and deportations suffered by the Armenian people constituted genocide is self-evident. The Armenian genocide is a clearly established historical fact.[1] To deny it is to deny the obvious. But that is not the question here. The case is not about the historical truth, or the legal characterisation of the events of 1915. The real issue at stake here is whether it is possible for a State, without overstepping its margin of appreciation, to make it a criminal offence to insult the memory of a people that has suffered genocide. In our view, this is indeed possible.

4. Our dissent mainly concerns the majority’s understanding of the applicant’s statements (see paragraphs 229-41 of the judgment). His particularly pernicious speech and its consequences have been played down throughout the judgment. While the statements in issue do not necessarily constitute speech falling within the scope of Article 17 of the Convention – although some of us are of the view that they do – such statements, as we understand them, amount to a distortion of historical facts going well beyond mere denial of the Armenian genocide in terms of its legal characterisation. The statements in question contain an intent (animus) to insult a whole people. They are a gross misrepresentation, being directed at Armenians as a group, attempting to justify the actions of the Ottoman authorities by portraying them almost as acts of self-defence, and containing racist overtones denigrating the memory of the victims, as the Federal Court rightly found. To the extent that it sought to discredit the “obvious”, the speech in question – as was unequivocally confirmed by the applicant at the hearing – can even be said to constitute a call, if not for hatred and violence, at least for intolerance towards Armenians. Far from being historical, legal and political in nature, the applicant’s speech depicted the Armenians as the aggressors of the Turkish people and described as an “international lie” the use of the term “genocide” to refer to the atrocities committed against the Armenians. Furthermore, the applicant claimed to be a follower of Talaat Pasha, one of the protagonists in these events, who was described at the hearing as “the best friend of the Armenians” (sic). These statements, in our view, overstep the limits of what might be acceptable under Article 10 of the Convention.

Einige Aspekte sind erwähnenswert: Perinçek hatte materielle und immaterielle Schäden in der Gesamthöhe von 120.000 Euro geltend gemacht. Diese wurden ebenso abgewiesen wie seine geltend gemachten Prozesskosten.

Einige Reaktionen

Die armenische Seite war mit dem Urteil durchaus einverstanden. Geoffrey Robertson QC und Amal Clooney sagen dazu:

„Armenia intervened in the case for one reason: the lower court had cast doubt on the fact that a genocide against the Armenian people occurred in 1915. As counsel we sought to correct this grave error, and the Grand Chamber has done so. Today’s judgment did not dispute the fact of the Armenian genocide: ten judges said the question should not have been addressed at all whilst seven stated that “the Armenian genocide is a clearly established historic fact”.
In seiner Erklärung zum Urteil stellte das Türkische Außenministerium u.a. fest:
„Based on the principles of democracy and law, we deem the judgment as a very strong signal against all efforts imposing the “genocide” allegation as the only and absolute truth along with attempts and practices which even forbid questioning it.
According to the judgment, the events of 1915 is a matter of legitimate debate and different opinions relating to what happened during that period are under the protection of freedom of expression. Likewise, it is in no way possible to compare what happened in 1915 with the Holocaust.
The judgment has registered the fact that parliaments and leaders are not competent to rewrite history by going beyond their powers. It also acknowledges that courts could not adjudicate on history by disregarding the relevant judicial norms.“

Hier liegt offenbar eine krasse Fehlinterpretation des Urteils vor. Die türkische Seite übersieht, dass es der Großen Kammer (der Mehrheit von 10 Richtern) ausschließlich um Artikel 10 (Freiheit der Meinungsäußerung) der Europäischen Konvention für Menschenrechte und Grundfreiheiten  unter den sehr speziellen Bedingungen dieses konkreten Falles ging. Und gerade dieses Urteil hat für die Türkei Konsequenzen, die dem Türkischen Außenministerium entgangen sind.

Geoffrey Robertson QC und Amal Clooney bringen sie auf den Punkt:

„The court’s decision upholding the importance of freedom of expression has important consequences for Turkey, which has the worst record of any state before the European Court on free speech. Turkey can no longer justify prosecuting those like Hrant Dink who are accused of “insulting Turkishness” contrary to article 301 of the Penal Code by writing about the reality of the Armenian genocide. These prosecutions are plainly contrary to the free speech guarantee under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights as interpreted in the Perinçek case. We call on Turkey to abolish article 301 and cease malicious prosecutions pursued on its terms.“

Eine andere Stimme aus der Türkei stammt vom Menschenrechtsverein IHD. Naturgemäß ist er ganz anderer Ansicht als das Türkische Außenministerium.

Einige Stimmen aus der Schweiz bilden den Schlusspunkt. Da ist zum einen die Gesellschaft Schweiz-Armenien (GSA), die mit dem Urteil unzufrieden ist. „Das Gericht schadet sich selbst. Wer den Holocaust leugne, rufe zu Rassenhass auf. Wer aber den Genozid an den Armeniern leugne, will nicht zwingend Hass säen. Diese Unterscheidung der Strassburger Richter ist nicht nachvollziehbar“, schrieb der Tages-Anzeiger. „«Leugnung von Genozid in Schweiz weiter strafbar» Das EGMR-Urteil im Fall Perinçek stösst beim Ex-Bundesgerichtspräsident Giusep Nay auf Unverständnis. Leugnung von Genozid stehe in der Schweiz weiterhin unter Strafe“ meinte das Newsportal 20 Minuten.

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