France’s Genocide Law Put on Hold

The French Senate

PARIS (AFP)—France’s new law punishing denial of the Armenian genocide was put on hold on Jan. 31 after politicians opposed to the legislation demanded that its constitutionality be examined.

Turkey reacted furiously last week when the Senate approved the law which threatens with jail anyone in France who denies that the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turk forces amounted to genocide.

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office brushed off angry threats of retaliation by Turkey and vowed to enforce the law within a fortnight.

But on Jan. 31, two separate groups of French politicians who oppose the legislation–from both the Senate and the lower house of parliament–said they had formally requested the constitutional council to examine the law.

The groups said they each had gathered more than the minimum 60 signatures required to ask the council to test the law’s constitutionality.

“This is an atomic bomb for the Elysee (Sarkozy’s office) which didn’t see it coming,” said deputy Lionel Tardy, who said that most of the 65 signatories from the lower house were, like him, from Sarkozy’s UMP party.

The council is obliged to deliver its judgment within a month, but this can be reduced to eight days if the government deems the matter urgent.

Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately welcomed the development.

“I hope the constitutional council will do what is necessary,” said Erdogan, while Gul said he was “not expecting the French from the very beginning to let their country be overshadowed” by the genocide law.

France has already officially recognized the killings as a genocide, but the new law would go further by punishing anyone who denies this with up to a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($57,000).

Erdogan last week denounced the law as “tantamount to discrimination and racism” and warned that his Islamist-rooted government would punish Paris with unspecified retaliatory measures if Sarkozy signed it into law.

Ankara has already halted political and military cooperation with France and was threatening to cut off economic and cultural ties.

Trade between the two states was worth 12 billion euros ($15.5 billion) in 2010, with several hundred French businesses operating in Turkey.

Armenia hailed the passage of the bill through the French Senate, with President Serge Sarkisian writing in a letter to Sarkozy: “France has reaffirmed its greatness and power, its devotion to universal human values.”

Around 20 countries have officially recognized the killings as genocide.

Amnesty International has criticized the French law, saying it would violate freedom of expression.


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  1. Ed said:

    As long as Armenia is run by traiotors who signe protocols and agree with turks to form a commision of historians, wheter it was a genocide or not, no one will lift a finger for the recognition of the armenian genocide! The traitor lite Petrosian, Sarkisian and Nalbandian are the main hinder of the recognition of the ganocide by international comunity! If the traitor, Levon Ter Petrosian, who is responsible of the killings of hundreds of fedais, was hanged att center of Yerevan and the oligargs were put on prision, no one would signe any agreement with turks, unless the armenian genicide was recognized by the murderers – turks!

  2. Jerry said:

    Does Amnesty International also criticize such laws regarding the Nazi holocaust? Is not Genocide still Genocide?

  3. Alexander The Great Armo said:

    This is what I said it’s all BS way of buy Armenian votes there and really not doing anything. The only thing that matter the law being signed in as a law. This might get scraped until the next election. I hope I am wrong and it becomes a law, and other countries will see that turkey is weak and do the same.

  4. Melkon Melkonian said:

    The line says, “Amnesty International has criticized the French law, saying it would violate freedom of expression”.
    Why it is not so in case of the Holocaust?

  5. Melkon Melkonian said:

    The last line says, “Amnesty International has criticized the French law, saying it would violate freedom of expression”.
    Why it is not so in case of the Holocauste.

  6. hayk said:

    I wold say one thing, if constitutional Cort finds it unconstitutional it means there is no justice in the world and means that even Western highest Cort could be bribed and bought.
    Or could be that Sarkozy was playing political game to get Armenian votes.
    Now he can say you know I triyd but thay did not let me.

    After all this law is for people and if it is not signed by him then Franse or all EU would become Turkish soon.
    Yesterday on “VESTI” Russian news showed how Turks in the midle of Perise turned it in to Turkish bazar two blocks down from Armenian kvartal and showed that first cafe in France opened by an Armenian in 17th century .
    Then correspondent compared Turkish and Armenian kvartals.
    In the end it showed Turkish kvartal and said do not be surprised but this is also Perise.

  7. Sylvia Parsons said:

    Any article about this proposed French law should always include the fact that it is already a crime in France to deny the Holocaust. Mentioning this fact will help put the new proposal in context, especially for readers who may not be well-informed on the subject.

  8. gaytzag palandjian said:

    Armenians are a patient ,rather over patient people.We can afford to wait a bit more.Regardless what the constitutional court in France decides our CAUSE/Case does not allow stoppage or retreat.We shall continue our Quest for Justice,for the whole world owes us JUSTICE.

  9. Greg K Basmadjian said:

    Surprise, surprise….I may have to spit out the proverbial hat that I had eaten! Quite expected this turn of events. Our future is in our hands, no one else’s.

  10. Bob Mason (Vormnaterian) said:

    Amnesty International is right on this one, but that certainly doesn’t mean the Turkish government is right.

    The best defense of the truth of the genocide is freedom of speech, something they don’t seem to have in Turkey. How can we open the door for them to face the truth if we reinforce the idea that people speaking what they believe is punishable?

    • Avery said:

      Mr. Mason:

      When you have convinced AI to condemn the exact same law that applies to the Jewish Holocaust in France;
      When you have convinced AI to condemn the exact same law that applies to the Jewish Holocaust in Germany; (paging Ernst Zundel).
      When AI has condemned and successfully removed all the JH Denial Criminalization Laws in Europe – then, and only then, you and AI can come and give us Armenians lectures about ‘freedom of speech’ and such.

      And Mr. Mason, if you believe so much in freedom of speech, I have a suggestion for you: go to Baku and publicly declare “Official Khojali story is a lie”, or “Azeri leadership was responsible for Khojali tragedy”.
      If you make it alive out of Baku, you can teach us some more about freedom of speech.
      (Before you go, look up Azeri newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev: he was jailed on trumped up charges for disputing the official version of events at Khojali)

    • Ani said:

      Oh really Bob? Why doesn’t Amnesty Int’l cry foul for the Gayssot law in France where denial of the Holocaust is a crime??? Get you head out of the sand and look at the world around you. Look hard enough and you will see who’s playing Who.

      • Bob Mason (Vormnaterian) said:

        Ani and Avery,

        I appreciate your relating the Holocaust denial laws to this one. I do not find those laws to be helpful either. I don’t know AI’s official position on those laws, but if they support them, they are wrong and inconsistent. I have no relationship with them, so I’m unaware of their stance.

        And of course the Baku scenario outlined by Avery is horrible and should not be imitated in any way by freedom-loving people anywhere.

        What I see as truth, does not depend on whether or not Amnesty International comes to their senses about their own inconsistency.

  11. Arziv said:

    I am stunned but not surprised. Sarkozy can sign the law regardless of its constitutionality as long as he does it before the court issues its anticipated verdict. Amnesty international is a disreputable organization in any event. If the Gassot Law is law , then this law equally is law. I find it incomprehensible the volta face of the French senate. It rests on Sarkozy shoulders to show what he is made of, made of integrity and honesty or made of straw.

  12. H. Hovanessian said:

    There are double standards in what Amnesty International says. Freedom of speech is not valid when it concerns the denial of the Shoah, but valid regarding the Armenian genocide.

  13. Artin said:

    Hayer yekek khelki gank!!! chenk haskanum vor himar azg en chari hete khaghan!!!

  14. gary_s said:

    Sarkozy could have planned it this way:

    “Turkey’s deputy prime minister Sunday accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of breaking a promise that the parliament would not pass a bill criminalizing the denial of Armenian claims of genocide.

    Sarkozy had given assurances to Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that the bill would fail, according to deputy prime minister Ali Babacan.”

  15. Greg said:

    The Constitutional Court is going to find the bill fully within the constitution, as was pointed out there are already similar French laws (and many other European countries) on the Holocaust and they have been found fully within French jurisdiction.

  16. b said:

    Amnesty International has lost all credibility with their statement. No different than shutting off the mouth of the victims. Shame on AI. Don’t ever give any $ to this gutty organization.

  17. Razmik said:

    Well this is going to be a hard one for the 60 petitioners to sell since there is already a precedence set with the holocaust – I think it’s political wrangling to appease the Turks (for business relations) and eventually pass the law.

  18. Sebouh Z Tashjian said:

    There is no difference between the Jewish Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide.

    In France no one should deny the Jewish Holocaust otherwise will be punished because its registered in their Constitution.

    The French senate, quite easily, passed the resolution of the “denial of the Armenian Genocide”. .
    Mr. Sarkozy will sign it and it will be passed into the French Constitution. Again any difference, none.

    So why the constitutional council should examine this law, its meaningless or may be to appease the Turks. See we have examined !!

  19. JOHN said:

    Half a million Armenians in France can do more damage then all the Turks combined. We will boycott buying luxury items and large ticket items if France does not make a law denying Armenian Genocide. It will Cost France Billions of dollars more then Turkey’s trade.

  20. Daniel said:

    When French Senate passed the bill last week, I went and watched Tintin movie. Now, thinking back I really didn’t like the movie.

  21. Raffikian said:

    Business as usual, perpetrating Genocide pays off, this is a clear message to Syria that they can commit Genocide and they will not be accounted for, if you have important Business relaions, nothing happens

  22. Gourgen Mangassarian said:

    Bob Mason,
    It goes like this. Turks kill you and your family, then for the next 100 years deny their crime. Then they say -it’s a matter of historians not politicians. Then comes the US, then Amnesty International and try to convince the people that it is right to deny the crime with “free speech” arguement. Then the people agree “Amnesty International is right on this one”. . . . then the Turks commit a new crime . . . then they deny . . .
    Would you be satisfied with the course of these events Bob???

    • Bob Mason (Vormnaterian) said:

      It is not right to deny the crime, nor is it right to criminalize denying the crime. Free speech does not mean that the government endorses everything everyone says; it means that no one goes to jail for their opinion.

      My grandfather came to the US in 1901 and my grandmother in 1911, both to escape the genocides that we are discussing. I do not want people to be forced to believe what I know; I want them to be convinced.

      Laws like this just make our enemies feel persecuted and justified.

      “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
      A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

  23. kevo said:

    The Turk population of France is twice that of Armenians.
    So, please, enough of this BS of Sarkozy going after Armenian votes.
    That is Turk propoganda.

  24. Garo said:

    Does Armenia recognise the holocaust? If it does, by all means i find our policy VERY STUPID. Does Israel recognise our genocide? No, neither it will.

    I knew since day 1 this would happen, all this is for Armenian votes. Our grandparents blood is being used for the political games of the major powers for years, this is not something new. France will not risk its ties with turkey especially now that a new dish is being prepared for Syria and Iran by the West/Israel.

    I was watching the news, and i could see 25,000 turks gathered in Paris protesting against the bill, my question is… how many Armenians were present on the 23rd there? I feel ashamed that instead of seeing AT LEAST 50,000 of our Armenian brothers and sisters in France participating at the rally that day, only a couple of hundred went. I know that would not change even if all the 500,000 had gone, but this would be a strong message, that we are not few and that this matter is sensitive for us.

    However it seems that every year we Armenians are getting less passionate about our rights..shame on us!

    Every single Armenian in the world must fight for justice !

  25. Satenik said:

    Come on France, stand up to Turkey! All Europe and the decent people in the world should be untied to make sure that this becomes law and hopefully send a strong message to the brutal tyrants who still commit genoced. And I want to know why is Israel keeping quiet now. Where are all those Jewish and Israeli intellectuals condemining genocide or are they only bothered about their own and no one else matters? Where are their voices?

  26. Jack said:

    I am Armenian and do not care about this French law. Any law that criminalizes speech is unjust. Current laws that criminalize holocaust denial should be repealed and never been implemented! France already officially recognizes the Armenian Genocide, move on. I also do not care for Sarkozy the Jew.

    • Avery said:

      If you truly feel that strongly about free speech, go to Germany first and declare that the Jewish Holocaust “is a hoax”. Make sure you take your toothbrush, because you might get to stay in Germany for a while, courtesy of the German Corrections Department.

      And your Antisemitism has warped your Judgement: One of Mr. Sarkozy’s Grandfathers was Greek-Jewish. He himself grew up a Catholic. And what if he was 100% Jew ?
      Lemkin was 100% Jew: you know who he was, don’t you ?

      And after you have left Germany, you can travel to Turkey and work there for the advancement of free speech by campaigning to repeal Article 301.

      Nice try “I am Armenian” Jack. Better luck next time.

  27. H. Hovanessian said:

    I am wondering if the 65 politicians, demanding that the legislation be constitutionally examined, have not been requested or paid by companies doing business in Turkey. It is also amazing to note that the Israeli Knesset has not so far and/or do not want to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Many many years ago, the actual president of Israel, Shimon Peres, was asked if he recognized the Armenian Genocide. He replied, with his hypocritical look, that ”there was nothing worse than the Shoah”. This guy should have been an actor.
    I am grateful that some eminent Jews are working very hard for the recognition of the Armenian genocide, but I’m afraid afraid that the majority of them do not.

  28. Greg said:

    Anyone reading this probably does care. Armenians really should be standing and making an effort , writing to MPs / Senators / going on demonstrations, instead of passing it all on to the next generation to make the effort.