ISTANBUL–The Eighth Penal Section of Turkey’s Supreme Court has upheld–by a three to two majority decision–the findings of the No. 5 State Security Court of Istanbul–acquitting the publisher of Professor Vahakn Dadrian’s genocide volume of charges it violated clause 2 of Article 312 of Turkey’s Penal Code–which prohibits "the fomenting among the peoples of Turkey feelings of rancor and enmity based on differences of class–religion–creed and race."
As a result of the high court’s findings–Dadrian’s work–which was a legal analysis of the World War I Armenian Genocide which appeared as a monograph in the Vol. 14–No. 2 Summer 1989 issue of Yale Journal of International Law–will no longer be prohibited from distribution and sale in Turkey.
After deliberating on the case for the past 10 months–the panel of judges–by a majority decision–upheld the lower courts’ original acquittal verdict–explaining that "the book bears the title of Genocide as a Problem of National and International Law and is centered around the theme that the Armenia’s of the Ottoman Empire were subjected to a genocide that was both premeditated and centrally planned."
The majority decision handed down went on to reason that "the author has a specially one-sided approach and his effort to document the case reflects this; he also is inflating the events he examines. His assertions are not new and the Turks as well as the Armenia’s have heard these assertions before from other camps. The fact is that like many Balkan nationalities–the Ottoman Armenia’s became infected with nationalism and during the war threatened the security of the Ottoman armies and resorted to terror–pillage–and massacres against local populations; the Great Powers had instigated them.
"The State was forced to take appropriate measures. The Armenian losses were largely due to the difficulties arising from the implementation of the deportation order. The Armenia’s themselves are to blame for the misfortune befalling them. It is impossible to characterize these events as genocide and to hold the Turkish people responsible. By omitting the atrocities perpetrated by the Armenia’s themselves–the author betrays his partisanship and indulges in flawed documentation."
"Despite these defects–however–the views expressed in the book do not have the components of guilt specified in Clause 2 of Article 312 of the Penal Code. It is–therefore–unlawful to punish someone for deeds which are not prohibited by law. We (the court) do not share the objections of the District Attorney of the State Security Court to the verdict of that Court–and–therefore–reject his appeal to this Court."
The high court’s verdict also included a statement which seemed to suggest the decision was not one reached completely on the grounds of Dadrian’s innocence–but on the insignificance of the few Armenian people living in Turkey.
The passage read–in part–that "furthermore–the charge of instigation–based on Clause 2 of Article 312 of the Penal Code–is untenable since there are no Armenian people in Turkey that have the requisite size to be amenable to instigation."
The court also released its minority opinion–which claimed that "the author uses not only a one-sided approach but offers his view that the Turks in the past and present continue to deny with ruthlessness the crime of the genocide.
"He (Dadrian) further maintains that the Turks are capable of repeating that crime. This assertion suggests that the citizens of the Turkish Republic who are of Armenian origin are in mortal danger. This is an offense inasmuch as it involves an incitement to rancor and enmity based on racial and religious differences. Therefore–Clause 2 of Article 312 is applicable here. We disagree with the view expressed by the honorable majority."
In a press release–the publishers of the genocide volume–which was later released as an independent book–stated that even though their acquittal and release of the book is explained by recourse to convoluted reasoning–such as the reference to the negligible size of Turkey’s remaining Armenian population–they welcome the verdict as a step in the direction of strengthening freedom of thought–expression–and public enlightenment.
The publishers go on to say that the verdict may also serve to promote mutual understanding among peoples–brotherhood–and an atmosphere of peace.
"The places to debate the issues of our history are not the courts but books–series of publications–conferences and panels," the statement read.
"It is remarkable that our high-ranking politicians can get away with statemen’s with which they degrade and vilify the Armenia’s but which are not considered racism and psychological terrorism. Against this backdrop–the verdict is a measure of progress."