Swedish legislators have recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2000. If you know of other documents to be added to this list – old or new – please send a note to elizabeth@anca.org. We look forward to showcasing them.

March 11, 2010


Proposal for Parliament Decision

1. The Parliament announces to the government its decision in reference to what is stated in the motion regarding Sweden recognizing the 1915 genocide against Armenians, Assyrians/Syrians/Chaldeans and Pontic Greeks.

2. The Parliament announces to the government its decision in reference to what is stated in the motion that Sweden should act within EU and UN for an international recognition of the 1915 genocide against Armenians, Assyrians/Syrians/Chaldeans and Pontic Greeks.

3. The Parliament announces to the government its decision in reference to what is stated in the motion that Sweden should act for Turkey to recognize the 1915 genocide against Armenians, Assyrians/Syrians/Chaldeans and Pontic Greeks.

“Forum for living history is an authority which has the mission to — with basis in the Holocaust – work with issues which concern tolerance, democracy and human rights.
By illuminating the darkest pieces of the human history we want to affect the future.”

So reads the description of an agency which works on mission by order of the Swedish Government and educates, among others, about the 1915 genocide. The lesson of history is one of the cornerstones of the present-day democracies where we have learned of our mistakes and by preventing repetition of earlier errors we strive for a better future.

However, a prevention of future missteps, especially if these are known from the history, cannot be implemented if one does not openly recognizes committed errors.
Thus, history revisionism is a dangerous tool for facilitating repetition of the dark pages of the history.

The 1915 genocide foremost engulfed Armenians, Assyrians/Syrians/Chaldeans and Pontic Greeks, but later came to also affect other minorities. It was the dream of a large Turanic Empire, Great Turan, which caused the Turkish leaders wanting to ethnically homogenize the remains of the decaying Ottoman Empire at the turn of the 19th century. This was achieved under the cover of the ongoing world war, when the Armenian, Assyrian/Syrian/Chaldean and Pontic Greek population of the empire were, almost entirely, annihilated. Researchers estimate that about 1,500,000 Armenians, between 250,000 and 500,000Assyrians/Syrians/Chaldeans and about 350,000 Pontic Greeks have been killed or disappeared.

During the short period following the Turkish defeat in 1918 until the time when the Turkish nationalistic movement, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, the genocide was discussed openly. Political and military leaders stood on trial, accused for “war crimes” and “committed crimes against humanity”. Several of them were found guilty and sentenced to the death or prison. During these trials horrible details about the persecution of the minorities in the Ottoman Empire were revealed. Thus, Turkey went through the same phase as the one Germany experienced after the Second World War. However, the process was short-lived. The emergence of the Turkish nationalistic movement and the dissolution of the Sultanate resulted in the discontinuation of the trials and the majority of the accused were set free. Almost, the entire remaining Christian population Armenians, Assyrians/Syrians/ Chaldeans, and Pontic Greeks – were expelled from areas they had inhabited for over thousands of years.

UN Genocide Convention 1948,
the European Parliament and Official Recognitions

Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish lawyer who coined the term “genocide” during the 1940s and was the father of the UN Convention of Prevention and Punishment of the
Crime of Genocide, was fully aware of the 1915 genocide and the failure of the international community to intervene. His revision of the definition was adopted in the UN Convention which reads as follows;

Article 2) In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
– Killing members of the group;
– Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
– Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
– Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
– Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Furthermore, it is established that the present-day UN Convention from 1948 is not a new legislation, but merely a ratification of existing international laws on “crimes against humanity” which were stated in the Sevres Treaty, Article 230 (1920). Even more important is the fact that the UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, adopted on November 26, 1968, in power since November 11, 1970, which ratifies its retroactive non-prescriptive nature. Of this very reason, both massacres in the Ottoman Empire and the Holocaust are cases of genocide in accordance to the UN Convention, in spite the fact that both occurred before the Convention was established.

During the history of UN two larger studies/reports have been conducted on the crime of genocide. The first was the so-called. Ruhashyankiko Report, from 1978, and the second was the Whitaker Report, conducted by Benjamin Whitaker in 1985 (Economic and Social Council,Commission on Human Rights, Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Thirty-eighth session, Item 4 of the provisional agenda, E/CN.4/S-ub.2/1985/6).

The 1915 genocide is mentioned in several places in as an example of committed genocides during the 20th century. The report was voted on in the Sub-Commission of the UN Commission on Human Rights with 14 votes for, 1 against and 4 abstentions,
in August, 1985. On June 18, 1987, the European Parliament officially recognized the Armenian genocide. Since 1965, that is, the 50th anniversary of the genocide, several countries and organizations have officially recognized the 1915 genocide, among others Uruguay (1965), Cypress (1982), Russia (1995), Greece (1996), Lebanon (1997), Belgium (1998), France (1998), Italy (2000), The Vatican (2000), Switzerland (2003), Argentina (2003), Canada (2004), Slovakia (2004), Netherlands (2004), Poland (2005), Venezuela (2005), Germany (2005), Lithuania (2005), and Chile (2007).

Research on the 1915 Genocide and Swedish Knowledge

Second to the Holocaust, the 1915 genocide is regarded as the most studied case in the modern time Today a broad and interdisciplinary consensus exists among an overwhelming majority of genocide scholars who regard the massacres in the Ottoman Empire during World War I as genocide and which is referred by the scholars as the “genocide prototype” (while the Holocaust is called the “genocide paradigm”). The International Association of Genocide Scholars (TAGS), an independent world leading and interdisciplinary authority within the area, has in several occasions ratified a consensus in this matter, namely: June 13, 1997, June 13, 2005, October 5, 2007 and April 23, 2008. The resolution from July 13, 2007 reads as follows:

WHEREAS the denial of genocide is widely recognized as the final stage of genocide, enshrining impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, and demonstrably paving the way for future genocides;
WHEREAS the Ottoman genocide against minority populations during and following the First World War is usually depicted as a genocide against Armenians alone, with little recognition of the qualitatively similar genocides against other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire;

BE IT RESOLVED that it is the conviction of the International Association of Genocide Scholars that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Association calls upon the government of Turkey to acknowledge the genocides against these populations, to issue a formal apology, and to take prompt and meaningful steps toward restitution.

On June 8, over 60 leading genocide experts in the world signed an appeal directed to the members of the Parliament where they dismissed the claims about disunity among scholars regarding the 1915 genocide. The research must continue and both Turkey and the world must secure the possibilities for an open, independent and undisturbed atmosphere, among others by Turkey having to give full access to its archives as well as allowing similar discussions without scientist, authors, journalists and publishers risking prosecution for having commented on the reality of the genocide.

New research at Uppsala University witnesses also about a genuine Swedish knowledge of the 1915 genocide. Swedish Foreign Ministry and General Staff Head Quarters were fully informed about the ongoing annihilation through reports which the Swedish Ambassador Per Gustaf August Cosswa Anckarsvard and the Swedish Military Attache Einar of Wirsen (both stationed in Constantinople) sent to Stockholm. Among others one can read the following:

Anckarsvard, July 6, 1915: “Mr. Minister, The persecutions of the Armenians have reached hair-raising proportions and all points to the fact that the Young Turks want to seize the opportunity, since due to different reasons there are no effective external pressure to be feared, to once and for all put an end to the Armenian question. The means for this are quite simple and consist of the extermination of the Armenian nation.”

Anckarsvard, July 22, 1915: “It is not only the Armenians, but also the Turkish subjects of Greek nationality who at the present are subjected to severe persecutions…
According to Mr. Tsamados [Greek charge d’affaires] it [the deportations] cannot be any other issue than an annihilation war against the Greek nation in Turkey….”
*Anckarsvard, September 2, 1915: “The six so-called Armenian vilayets seem to be
totally cleansed from at least its Armenian-Catholic Armenians…. It is obvious that the Turks are taking the opportunity — now during the war — to exterminate the Armenian nation so that when peace comes, the Armenian question no longer exists.”

*Wirsen, May 13, 1916: “The health situation in Iraq is horrifying. Typhus fever claims numerous victims. The Armenian persecutions have to a large degree contributed to the spreading of the disease, since the expelled [Armenians] in hundred thousands have died from hunger and deprivation along the roads.”

*Anckarsvard, January 5, 1917: “The situation would have been different if Turkey
had followed the advice of the Central Powers in letting them organize the question of provisioning etc…Even worse than this is, however, the extermination of Armenians, which, perhaps, could have been prevente erman advisers had in time received authority over the civilian administration as the German officers actually practise over army and navy.”

*Envoy Ahlgren u us “The high prices continue to climb.. There are several reasons: and finally the strong decreasing of labor power, caused partly by the mobilization but ar y also by the extermination of the,Armenian race.

In his memoirs emories from Peace and War” (1942), Wirsen dedicated an entire chapter to the genocide. n “The Murder of a Nation”, Wirsen writes that:

“Officially, these e eportations] had the goal to move the entire Armenian population to the steppe regions of Northern Mesopotamia and Syria, but in reality they aimed to exterminate the Armenians, whereby the pure Turkish element in Asia Minor would achieve a dominating position…. The annihilation of the Armenian nation in Asia Minor must upset allhuman feelings. The way in which the Armenian issue was solved was hair-raisin.

In addition, there are numerous eyewitness accounts: which missionaries and field workers such as Alma Johansson, Maria Anholm, Lars Erik Hogberg, E. John Larson, Olga Moberg, Per Pehrsson and others published. Hjalmar Branting was the very first person, who long before Lemkin, used the term genocide (“folkmord”) when he, on March 26, 1917, called the persecutions against the Armenians as “an organized and systematic genocide, worse than what we ever have seen in Europe.”

Recognition of the 1915 genocide is not only important in order to redress the affected ethic groups and minorities which still live in Turkey, but also for the promotion of Turkey’s development. Turkey cannot become a better democracy if the truth about its past is denied. The Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was murdered for having openly expressed himself regarding the genocide and several others have been prosecuted by the same infamous Paragraph 301. The latest changes of the law by the Turkish Government are purely cosmetic and do not imply any changes what so ever. It is said that history should be left to historians and we completely support that. However, it is the responsibility of the politicians to act in accordance to historic facts and historic research.

Furthermore, a Swedish recognition of the truth and a historic fact should not imply any hinder for either the reform work in Turkey or Turkey’s EU negotiations. With basis in what we have stated above, we consider that Sweden should recognize the 1915 genocide against Armenians, Assyrians/Syrians/Chaldeans, and Pontic Greeks. This should the Parliament present as its consideration to the Government.

Furthermore, we do consider that Sweden should act internationally, within the framework for EU and UN, for an international recognition of the 1915 genocide against Armenians, Assyrians/Syrians/Chaldeans, and Pontic Greeks. This should the Parliament present as its consideration to the Government.

As long as countries such as Sweden do not confront Turkey with the truth and the facts which are at hand, Turkey cannot go further on its path to a more open society, a better democracy and fully open up its possibilities for a membership in EU. Thus, Sweden should act for Turkey to recognize the 1915 genocide against Armenians, Assyrians/Syrians/Chaldeans, and Pontic Greeks. This should the Parliament present, as its consideration to the Government.

October 2, 2008

Related Articles

View the Original Link

March 29, 2000

An official statement and recognition of the Genocide of the Armenians is important and necessary. In 1985 the UN and the European Parliament established the fact that the Ottoman Empire had committed genocide against the Armenian people in the beginning of the 20th century. The Standing Committee [on Foreign Affairs] is of the opinion that the greater openness Turkey demonstrates, the stronger Turkey’s democratic identity will be. It is therefore important that unbiased independent and international research on the genocide committed against the Armenian people be carried out.

It is of great importance that an increasing openness and historical understanding of the events of 1915 and thereafter be developed. An improvement in this respect would also be of importance for the stability and the development of the whole Caucasus region.

Original Text (In Swedish)

Parliament Report
March 29, 2000

Utrikesutskottet skriver i sitt betänkande att:

“Det är angeläget och nödvändigt med en officiell redovisning och erkännande av folkmordet på armenierna.

1985 fastslogs i FN och i Europaparlamentet att det ottomanska riket begått folkmord på det armeniska folket i början av detta sekel.

Utskottet anser att ju större öppenhet Turkiet visar beträffande sitt förflutna desto mer bidrar det till att stärka Turkiets demokratiska identitet.

Det är därför viktigt att det genomförs förutsättningslös oberoende internationell forskning om det folkmord som drabbat den armeniska befolkningen.

Det vore av stor vikt om det kan utvecklas en ökad öppenhet och historisk förståelse för händelserna 1915 och därefter.

En förbättring härvidlag torde även få betydelse för stabiliteten och utvecklingen i Kaukasusregionen i sin helhet.”

Related Links

Your generosity empowers our advocacy, inspires our work, and sustains our momentum.