Tuesday, January 24, 2012

France bans Armenian 'genocide' denial

Turkish citizens from France and other European countries demonstrate in Paris on Saturday, Jan 21, 2012, to protest against a law that would make it a crime to deny that the Armenian 'genocide' occurred.

Source: Press TV

The French Senate has approved a controversial bill that makes it illegal to deny that the Ottoman Empire carried out acts of genocide against the Armenians during World War I.

The measure was passed by a vote of 127 to 86 on Monday.

The legislation stipulates that anyone in France who denies the attacks were genocide would face a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros (about 58,000 dollars).

The bill needs to be signed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for it to become law, but that is largely considered a formality.

Turkey furiously condemned the move, with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin saying that it was “a great injustice and shows a total lack of respect for Turkey.”

Engin Solakoglu, the spokesman for the Turkish Embassy in Paris, warned that if President Sarkozy signed the bill, the consequences would be “permanent.”

“France is in the process of losing a strategic partner,” Solakoglu added.

Meanwhile, Armenia lauded the French senators' move.

“This day will be written in gold, not only in the history of friendship between the Armenian and French peoples, but also in the annals of the history of the protection of human rights worldwide,” Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a statement.

France's lower house approved the bill last December, prompting Turkey to briefly recall its ambassador from Paris and to cancel some bilateral visits.

Paris formally recognized the killings of Armenians as genocide in 2001, but had imposed no penalty for anyone denying that genocide had occurred.

On Saturday, thousands of Turks from across Europe held a demonstration in Paris to protest against the law.

Sarkozy, whose right-wing UMP party introduced the bill, is accused of using the bill to win the support of France's estimated 500,000 ethnic Armenians in the French presidential election, which will be held in April.

Armenia says up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in an act of genocide carried out by the forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and 1916.

Ankara rejects the use of the word “genocide” and instead says that only 500,000 Armenians died and they were casualties of World War I.

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