Belgian Court Finds Regional Official Guilty of Armenian Genocide Denial

Brussels court returns verdict saying Emir Kir is a genocide denier

BRUSSELS–A civil court in Belgium has ruled that Emir Kir (Socialist Party)–one the three State Secretaries of Brussels is a "liar" and "denier" in connection with his statemen’s and actions concerning the Armenian genocide. Kir has said that he will appeal the verdict.

The court proceedings began after Kir lodged a complaint against the administrators of a website www.suffrage-universel.be–Mehmet Koksal and Pierre-Yves Lambert–on the grounds that the website misrepresented him.

Koksal and Lambert accused Kir of falsely claiming to have an educational degree–taking liberties with the law on electoral expenses–taking part in demonstrations denying the Armenian genocide–and articulating positions denying this crime against humanity.

The verdict clearly spells out that the Court "considers as an established fact that the demonstration [in which Kir took part] actually aimed to refute–hence to deny–that the crime committed against the Armenia’s by the Ottoman Turkey in 1915-1916 constituted a genocide." The court rejected Kir’s claim that his refusal to use the term "genocide" was based on the inability of an independent committee of historians to make such a determination. The Court noted that–by "deliberately ignoring the extensive documentation that already exists" Kir was effectively denying the Armenian genocide.

The Court found that the authors of the website were "by no means wrong" in applying the "denier" characterization to Kir–and went on to note that this type of clear labeling of deniers serves the common good and advances the purposes established by Belgian law to penalize Armenian genocide denial.

"This verdict could not be more timely–coming as it does at the moment when Ankara is launching legal actions around the world against public and private institutions that teach truthfully about the Armenian genocide," stressed Laurent Leylekian–who is the Executive Director of the European Armenian Federation. "Through this court action–Belgian civil society is calling on Belgian legislators to impose strict penalties on the denial of the Armenian genocide–officially imposing sanctions against all those–who through their denials–insult the dignity of Armenia’s and all Belgians. As such–we ask Minister of Justice Laurette Onkelinx–and the Senate to reactivate the draft law on this subject that they had previously tabled."

"It is urgent that Europeans formally criminalize denial before Turkey–the denier State that has applied for membership in the European Union–has the opportunity to seek to impose its denials on Europe from within. Belgium should and must be on the front lines of this noble effort," concluded Leylekian.

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