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French Council Finds Bill Penalizing Denial Unconstitutional

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PARIS, France—On Feb. 28, the French Constitutional Council deemed unconstitutional the Jan. 23 bill that would have penalized the denial of genocide, arguing that it curbs freedom of speech. The bill would have rendered punishable the denial of all genocides France has officially recognized, including the Armenian Genocide. France already has a law in place penalizing Holocaust denial.

Turkey welcomed the ruling. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that officials would meet to consider reestablishing contacts with France, which were frozen after the French Parliament passed the bill on Jan. 23, reported Reuters.

After being approved by the National Assembly and Senate, the law was put on hold on Jan. 31 after two separate groups of French politicians who opposed the legislation–from both the Senate and the Lower House–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.

By law, the council was obliged to deliver its judgment within a month.

The French Constitutional Council on Feb. 28 rejected the bill criminalizing genocide denial.

The Constitutional Council had three options in its decision: It could have ruled that the resolution as approved was consistent with the French Constitution, thereby paving the way for a presidential signature. It could have determined that portions of the bill were not consistent with the French Constitution, in which case the bill would have returned to the National Assembly to be amended (which could have caused problems, as the National Assembly is scheduled to go on vacation to prepare for the presidential elections). Or, it could have found—as it did—the resolution entirely unconstitutional, requiring Sarkozy to re-introduce the matter in the National Assembly.

On Feb. 1, two ministers told AFP that if France’s top judicial body were to reject the bill, Sarkozy would submit a new draft of a law punishing denial of the Armenian Genocide.

“The president told us in cabinet that he would immediately submit a new draft if there is a rejection by the Constitutional Council,” said one of the ministers, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another minister said Sarkozy had criticized cabinet members who had opposed the bill, saying, they “did not see past the ends of their noses.”

A rejection of the bill by the Constitutional Council could open the door to questioning a law already in place that penalizes denial of the Holocaust.

On Dec. 22, the French General Assembly approved the bill, prompting Ankara to withdraw its ambassador from Paris, only to have him return a few weeks later.

France adopted a bill officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide in 2001.

42 Comments on French Council Finds Bill Penalizing Denial Unconstitutional

  1. avatar Simon Beugekian // February 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm // Reply

    This is a good thing. Remember, folks, the genocide is a historical fact. We don’t need to constantly try to affirm it by squashing anyone doubting it. Those who have the truth on their side do not become petty punishers of their opposers.

    • Simon, I couldn’t agree with you more.

      After all, Sarkozy wants to get into office for another term; Armenian vote shouldn’t come down to an infringement on freedom of speech no matter how inaccurate it may be.

    • You two are misguided. European laws are not on the same plane as the laws in America, and your comparison thus fails. If you advocate “freedom of expression” for being the reason that you don’t approve of this law, then you should also be stating that the Jewish genocide law needs to likewise be struck down, and it is a shame that it has existed for the past twenty years, oppressing freedom of speech, expression and debate.

      Europe has anti-hate laws, which is what this is all about, and yes sometimes it gets in the way of “freedom of expression”, but using a double standard on Armenians I find deplorable, and even more so coming from Armenians themselves.

  2. That is a bad news. I do not agree with you Simon. That bill could shut the mouth of many turks even on political level.

    • “That bill could shut the mouth of many turks even on political level.”

      What a sense of democracy you have.

    • And France has a similar law on their books concerning the jewish Holocaust. I think this was a bait and switch orchestrated by Skrkozy to garner the Armenian vote.

  3. avatar avdis hallajian // February 28, 2012 at 12:25 pm // Reply

    I thought this was a bad idea from the very start. we want freedom of speech so that the racist genocide deniers will be made obvious for the world to see and condemn.

  4. One day ALL will know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH WILL set ALL free!

  5. Simon,
    Denial is the last phase of all genocide.. So in reality the Armenian Genocide continues today.. Also Turkish groups will just continue the counter false argument of denial..Its in their best interest too and they have way more money and influence, as we see the French political whores have no problems appeasing genocide deniers…..

    Tell me again, how is that good for our cause?

  6. Time to quote Stormin’ Norman Shwarzkof…
    Going to war without the French is like going hunting without your accordion.

  7. No worries, guys. Next time. I wonder how the French Constitutional Court interprets their double standard in finding a bill penalizing the Armenian genocide unconstitutional, while enacting a bill criminalizing the Jewish holocaust as constitutional?

  8. I’d partly agree with Simon. We need to give France a credit. At least, their President and the Parliament TRIED. Where is our promise-breaking President and the Congress?

  9. I do believe that this is a good thing too. My opinion is that if France wants to recognize the Armenian Genocide than that is fine but there should be no punishment for a denier. You do not need to use force. I am from Germany and I used to see people either some denying the Holocaust or making the most horrible jokes about the Jewish people that died in WW2 and in the concentration camps. But Germany doesn’t punish anybody. The truth is there, everyone knows it and it will not go away… As some of you may know I am Turkish myself and I do have sympathy towards what happened to the Armenian people and I do wish that hopefully the coming future generation will bring peace to our both lands. As you can see yourselves Turkey is changing, nowadays you see pro Armenia marches, people writing openly about the genocide and young Turks questioning their older generations belief…. All I can say is I make a change by starting with myself, on my own. I always extend my hand to any Armenian and always like to start a conversation and hopefully leave with a good lasting impression.
    Only hoping that maybe they will in return perhaps extend their hand to a Turkish person and just simply say : hi.
    If not us then who will start this change ?

    • {“But Germany doesn’t punish anybody. “}

      Oguz:

      you are either not living in Germany, or are completely oblivious of what goes on in Germany outside of your immediate circle.

      Please look up one Herr Ernst Zündel: Germany charged and convicted him for denying the Jewish Holocaust, He spent 5 years in jail.

      I call that punishment: what do you call it ?

      and regarding this: {” if France wants to recognize the Armenian Genocide “}

      France has recognized the Armenian Genocide.

  10. Good news that there are still wise people in France to stop that idiot law made by the idiots that puts an obstacle in fron of the freedom of speech. Sarkozy is one of the worst things that had happened to France that brings out things that are very much against the democratic values of a country that deems itself the champion of democracy.

  11. With their logic, the same (bought off by Turkey and Azerbokjian) Senators etc. must now reject the Gayssot Act. MAD HYPOCRITES!!!
    Dirty politics and bullying by the Turks has resulted in progressive legislation being thwarted. The Turks slaughtered and butchered the Armenians and the descendants of the Turkish butchers continue to lie and to claim that the Genocide did not happen. These murderous turk savages would do it again given half a chance.
    Turkey is now needed against Syria and that is why the Courts in France had overturned what is clearly a crime against humanity.

  12. avatar john the turk // February 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm // Reply

    Can Mr. Sassonian give us a few thought provoking idea in order to counter the French verdict?

  13. Simon,I saw tears in my father s eyes at times,when he remembered how his father,mother,uncles and little brother were taken away by Turks-he was hiding under a low table covered with a tapestry.And so long as the like of me are alive,this can’t be history,but a matter of justice. For decades,they ( other states ) did just that : ignore the problem,in order to delay any action and make it ,one day,not a matter for justice to be done,but history.But my generation is still here,and wants justice.

  14. avatar hrag istanboulian // February 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm // Reply

    as a turkish-armenian here not safe for us anymore all armenians in istanbul want to move abroad which countries give right to stay in a safety/peace please tell us

  15. It’s all about politics. I was happy to have the support of the French people on the truth of the genocide, and excited by the passage of the bill, but I won’t shed a tear over this decision of the constitutional court. Stifling deniers is nearly impossible and its usefulness is clearly debated. Let’s let it go and move on. We have many battles ahead and this is an unfortunate distraction, but a minor defeat. The truth is still the TRUTH and justice is still waiting.

    • I think the type of justice we need is Old Testament justice. Letting go and moving on is not justice in my mind.

  16. avatar gaytzag palandjian // February 28, 2012 at 3:02 pm // Reply

    First to Oguz and his like—-
    While I do accept your kind thoughts,I would suggest that you START a campaign amongst your countrymen(wherever you maybe) preaching them that what your ancestors did was GENOCIDE and to bow to survivors,their demands.
    ==============================================================
    Cher Marie,
    I totally agree with you .However they turn that around,politicians warmongers,money/powwer borkers and try to deny the UNDENIABLE,our CAUSE will prevail.We must fight on on all fronts:-
    1.In all Armenian community country.Try to pass law Recognizing our Genocide and demand restitutions/reparations.
    2.That denial thing made punishable first in Switzerland then in France(for Armenians) is irrelevant really. Facts are facts EVICTION,more than even Genocide recognition is there.With AGHTAMAR(A) MY NEW WAY OF PROUNCING IT,LIKE A turk…Sourp Giragos in Diarbakir(a) as above,go to show A R M E N I A N S LIVED ON THOSE LANDS….
    3.If great Turkey still thinks they can throw their weight around,now is the chance to INVADE SYRIA(as some allies would love that too).Then let´s see how they pull out of it!!!!!
    4.We shall survive to their detriment and multiply the world over.and…above all …I truly hope WE CAN REORGANIZE OUR DIASPORA(S)to become

    5.A SUPER STRUCTURE WITH 5 DEPTS.PLEASE enter and read mmy suggdstions in …www.armeniannews.info—-
    That is where OUR SLUMBERING GIANT IS….
    HAMA HAIGAGANI SIRO,
    g.p

  17. Lets be realistic.
    No other nation gives a damn about Armenians.
    The only hope we have is by strengthening our nation.
    Strengthening ourselves.
    The rest is just like a game on the chessboard of diplomacy,
    a game where we carry very little weight.

  18. Thank you Oguz! I hope we will have more right minded and honest people like you. In that case we will not seek help from other countries. Just like Hrant said.

  19. Doesn’t France have a similar law on their books concerning the Jewish Holocaust. How can that be constitutional?

  20. I’m not sure but my comments are getting deleted or never get posted. So I’m repeating to Resoman. and the rest “democrats”
    Wake up and stop being naive. Democracy is utopia. they understand the language of power only.
    To those who are saying that turkey is changing now. It is total BS. Look what happened in Sumgait, Baku, Maraga etc. almost 20 years ago? turks (azerbajanis are turks with stolen name from Persian province Azerbaidjan) was killing, raping, burning Armenians just like they did almost 100 years ago in west Armenia.

    In the time of yang turks, many Armenians was claiming that turkey is different, it is changing, talaat and enver are bringing reforms and freedom to our country. What happened after you all know. Tallat completed the genocide of Armenians that was going on for hundreds of years.

    So, “democrats”, go and learn history or stay quite.

  21. Oguz
    You can be sure that your extended hand is reciprocated. Only, it’s a pity that people like you are still a small minority who can hardly change the idiotic course that Turkey is following now. Still, we appreciate the struggle that right-minded Turks wage against official denialism, because we know that they have an extremely difficult task to fulfill.

  22. avatar Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam) // February 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm // Reply

    Vatche – I do agree with you. That’s the priority. I have been trying to say the same here for quite some time already. Again, Armenian Genocide will get a (fair) solution (that’s: reparation in money and/or land) ONLY through a STRONG ARMENIAN STATE. It is NOT the job, as such, of few individuals and/or tax-free NGO’s. It must be conducted on (Armenian) STATE level.

    Imagine for a while that ALL countries have recognized the Armenian Genocide and punish the denial of it. And you wake up the next morning. AND THEN?

    This French Genocide denial law brought a BIG publicity on Armenian Genocide (yet again) all over. 2-3 days it was a front-page news in all major Dutch language newspapers. Now EVERYBODY, at least, have heard of it.

    But the REAL counter-move NOW MUST be this:

    1.the official recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic by Armenia. (Baku hosts EuroVision Songcontest in may, 2012);

    2. the official recognition of Baku/Sumgait Genocide on Armenians by Armenia/NKR;

    3. the official recognition by Armenia/NKR of Assyrian/Greek Genocides in Ottoman Turkey.

    If you do not take a decision, others will take decision for you.

    The WHOLE strategy/priority must change:

    1. Strong Armenian state(s);

    2. Shift from Genocide recognition to legal field where possible (through Armenian state channels)- like a legal guerilla war (tactics): just let the enemy bleed out legally.

  23. avatar Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam) // February 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm // Reply

    hrag istanboulian – To Armenia/NKR liberated territories, first. It will be difficult in the beginning, as everywhere, but then you will adjust. Send a delegation and/or letter to appropriate Armenian authorities there.

    We do NOT need an Armenian community in C. Polis (Istanbul), as it has become a real hostage in the hands of Turkish authorities.

    I do NOT believe that Turks and Armenians ever can be good neighbors/friends, as TOO MUCH has happened between them. The only solution is that Kurds come in between (which is a matter of time) and we do not have to deal with them ANYMORE.

    Becides, C.Polis (Istanbul) is a damned city, as too much blood was shed there. There is universal justice. The probability of a HUGE earthquake there is very high. What goes around, comes around. Always.

  24. Sarkozy never intended this to pass: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-accuses-sarkozy-of-breaking-promise-on-genocide-bill.aspx?pageID=238&nID=9976&NewsCatID=338

    He knew if it passed, France’s influence in the mid east would be limited due to the big bully.

  25. We should stop running after the recognition of the Genocide and concentrate our efforts on the Treaty of Sèvres which is based on solid grounds! Turkey for geopolitical reasons against Russia is very important to the west specially for the US and Israel.

  26. As you would guess that i am Turkish and live in England…
    So what now ? Do you think Sarkozy did any fever to Armenians? I DON’T THINK SO!! I do have few Armenians friends and they do think that was total disaster for Armenians reputation in Europe..I DO REALLY WISH Turkey and Armenia comes together and talk about this endless WAR!!

    • Ali,

      you really trust Armenians ?

      you really think they will not backstab us after agreement ?

      pls, read more…dont be so naive..

    • Necati: Why are you so afraid of Armenians? Scared of something?

    • Berch,

      Then help us, work with us, to find that TRUTH! Press ANCA and the ARF Dashnaks, as well as the Armenian diaspora to agree to a open public forum debate with full media coverage…OR the complete establishment of the Historical Commission AND to bide by their final findings (Turkey’s PM Erdogan is already on record to abide with whatever the commission’s findings are)! if you are truly serious about learning the TRUTH, and not just blowing smoke, then this should appeal to you. Let’s see if your editorial board has the guts to post this!

    • Robert,

      I have challenged you to debate for money the issue of the AG thrice. Each time I challenge, you disappear from the site, just as Filthy Bucket [Kirlikovali’s name, translated, or maybe outhouse-bucket is a better translation] scuttles away.

      Here I am.

      What’s holding you back, little yovroom?

      You know my terms: purse of 50k to the winner, judge to be a mutually agreed upon retired justice of the California Court of Appeals, loser pays the judge’s fees and costs. If the sdides cannot agree to a judge, we will let the AAA or JAMS pick the judge for us.

      Want to increase the purse? Fine by me.

      Amounts must be pre-deposited into escrow, deposit is forfeited if you fail to appear.

      Winner gets rights to distribute the debate on the internet etc.

      I will use the funds to help Armenians defend themselves against ongoing Genocide vermin like you dream of.

      Let me know. Let us all know.

  27. hrag istanboulian can hardly be bolsahay

    there is no such thing as turkish-armenian
    there are istanbul-armenians or armenians from “turkey”

    a bolsahay would spell that lastname as istanbulyan, and certainly not istanbOUlian

    “hrag” ? is that an armenian name ? i never heard that name
    has anybody ?

    and btw “we” do not NEED an armenian community in amsterdam, but there is one anyway; though not sure who the “we” is suppose to be

  28. avatar Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam) // February 29, 2012 at 11:09 am // Reply

    Ara K – you are right. But some poeple are reluctant to give up their juicy jobs in “Genocide recognition LLC”- specially in US.

    ALI – Call me names, while you are writing a million worth cheque on my name. I will be thankful and will close my ears.

    LNG – 1. Հրակ/Hrag is a very beautiful Armenian name (“fire eyes”). 2 .You do not need to eat the letters in the words. 3. “We”- I mean we Armenians/Armenia. 4. True, but Armenians in Amsterdam are not hostages in the hands of Dutch government.

    • you became the representative of around 10 million armenians in the world when you used the word “we”
      you don’t think there is anything wrong with that ?

      thank you for the “Հրակ/Hrag” explanation

      from time to time i come across obvious imposters on the internet (of which the poster hrag is an example of)
      anyways, you have the right to believe in whatever you want

  29. Myyain zenkov ga hayots pergoutioun

    Yergat-e Sherep

    Nukes, only then you will get your rights

  30. The draft bill was ultimately doomed from the start. Sarkozy should have signed it
    into law the same day it had been approved by the senate . Sarkozy vacillated and procrastinated; it is a question it should be put to him ; although the answer is pathetically clear. The procrastrination allowed a number of anti-armenian deputies ( 69 of them ???; who are this 69 ? Alan Juppe clones inside the pockets of turks ?) . All this parable and gaseous generalizations of freedom of expression iis simple balderdash. A law penalizing the genocide is urgently required. Turkey is a negationist state, and it will continue to deny until it is “induced ” by outsiders to recognize the genocide. Turkey alone will never voluntarily acknoweldege her genocidal past . For those who wave the banner of freedom of exprsession, they should realize that there is no such thing in the Europe of today, Let’s not have pangs of conscience when the state itself is the main perpetrator to stifle freedom of expression. Sarkozzy will not be abe to draft another bill; it is clear that the French assembly of deputies is ” loaded” with pro-turks . Sarkozzy political capital is exhausted; it is a question mark whether he’ll be re elected.

  31. Why doesn’t the Armenian influence then ask the same French constitutional body to wipe out the law criminalizing the denial of the Holocaust?.. How is that constitutional and the Armenian Genocide not??

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