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The most controversial issue left over from the First World War – was there an Armenian Genocide? – comes to a head on 24 April 2015, when Armenians throughout the world commemorate the centenary of the murder of 1.5 million – over half – of their people, at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government. Turkey continues to deny it ever happened – or if it did, that the killings were justified.
This has become a vital international issue. Twenty national parliaments have voted to recognise the genocide, but Britain equivocates and President Obama is torn between Congress, which wants recognition, and the US military, afraid of alienating an important NATO ally. In Australia three state governments have recognised the genocide (despite threats to ban their MPs from Gallipoli), but the Abbott government has told the Turks that Australia does not.
Geoffrey Robertson QC is a leading human rights lawyer and a former UN war-crimes judge. He has been counsel in many notable Old Bailey trials, has defended hundreds of men facing death sentences in the Caribbean, and has won landmark rulings on civil liberty from the highest courts in Britain, Europe and the Commonwealth. He was involved in cases against General Pinochet and Hastings Banda, and in the training of judges who tried Saddam Hussein. His book Crimes against Humanity has been an inspiration for the global justice movement, and he is the author of an acclaimed memoir, The Justice Game, and the textbook Media Law.
Geoffrey is founder and head of Doughty Street Chambers. He is Master of the Middle Temple, Recorder and visiting professor at Queen Mary College, University of London.
Geoffrey lives in London with his wife, author Kathy Lette, and their two children.