FRENCH COURT TO REVIEW GENOCIDE BILL
By SCOTT SAYARE
New York Times
Feb 1 2012
PARIS – France’s Constitutional Council said Tuesday that it would rule
on the constitutionality of criminalizing the denial of a genocide
of Armenians during World War I, after receiving appeals signed by
dozens of lawmakers from across the political spectrum.
The legislation has been approved by both houses of Parliament but
has not yet been signed into law by President Nicolas Sarkozy. It
has been assailed by the Turkish government, which insists that the
deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians a century ago in what
was then the Ottoman Empire did not constitute genocide, a stance
that runs counter to historians’ conclusions and world opinion.
Turkey suspended military cooperation, bilateral political agreements
and economic contracts with France after the bill passed the lower
house in December. The French Senate approved it last week. Mr.
Sarkozy indicated that he would sign it.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed Turkey’s
gratitude to the French legislators who appealed to the court, saying
that to nullify the legislation would bring France into line with
“reality” and its own “values,” the semiofficial Anatolian News
In their letters of appeal to the council, 77 senators and 65 members
of the National Assembly said that the law might infringe on freedom
of speech and argued that it was not the legislature’s place to write
history. The law provides for fines of up to $59,000 and jail terms
of up to one year.
The Constitutional Council is legally bound to rule within one month.
Mr. Sarkozy is barred from signing the legislation into law before
the ruling is issued.
Historians widely believe that about 1.5 million Armenians were
systematically killed by Ottoman Turkish troops beginning in 1915. The
Turkish government maintains that no more than 500,000 Armenians
died as the Ottoman Empire crumbled during the war, and that many
were victims of starvation and exposure rather than targeted violence.
Sebnem Arsu contributed reporting from Istanbul.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress