Surprise Move by Belgium?s Socialist Party Hinders Armenian Efforts

BRUSSELS–In the next few days–the Belgium Senate will examine a draft law that would expand the definition for genocide denial. The draft law approved earlier by the House of Representative is based on a judicial definition of the crime of genocide–and does not specifically penalize the denial of the Armenian genocide.

The House version was enacted prior to the establishment of the relevant international jurisdiction. But the issue has come to prominence recently due to numerous instances of Armenian genocide denial in Belgium.

As a result–nearly half of the members of the Senate are seeking to consider this law and examine amendmen’s to extend penalties for the denial of those genocides recognized by Belgian federal legislative bodies and by European legislative institutions.

The position of Belguim’s Socialist Party (PS)–however–has upset a leading European Armenian group–which denounced the "openly denialist position" of the PS.

The European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) said the PS has indirectly indicated that it will not support these amendmen’s.

The PS–in a statement–writes: "To take legal action in our courts–a consensus is required among the international community on the qualification of the incriminated facts. This consensus of the international community has to go beyond resolutions without juridical significance taken by national or European Assemblies. If not–we would take the risk to trivialize the horrible meaning of the Jewish genocide undertaken by a modern State."

The statement also concludes that House of Representative draft law could be applied "to the Armenian genocide–when it is recognized by an appropriate body."

"It appears to us that the PS position was imposed by the Turkish state–in furtherance of its policy of questioning the reality of the Armenian genocide through the use of trivialization and rationalization," the EAFJD said in its sharp criticism of PS.

"We also hold that the PS–in making comparisons to the Holocaust–has reduced itself to the base level of arranging a hierarchy of suffering–ranking victims in order importance."

The EAFJD also criticized the PS for discrediting itself by repudiating its previous positions on this very issue.

It accused the PS of reducing a profound moral issue to crass electoral considerations by enlisting the support of "a fringe element of genocide deniers that have neither respect for Belgium or Belgians."We denounce the transparent demagoguery of the PS–which has become obsessed with chasing the Turkish vote throughout Brussels."

The EAFJD has called on human rights organizations–the Centre pour l’galit des chances–the members and the organization of the Common Socialist Action–the organization representing the victims of genocide–and especially the Jewish–Armenian–and Tutsi organizations and civil society to demand that PS issue a public apology and adopt a position consistent with its socialist legacy and European values.

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