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Panel of Eleven Federal Appeals Judges Hears Oral Argument on Armenian Genocide Era Insurance Recovery Suit

GLENDALE, CA — On Wednesday, December 14, four and a half years after a federal district court judge in Los Angeles first held that a California law extending the statute of limitations on Armenian genocide era insurance claims (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 354.4) was constitutional and not preempted by federal policy pursuant to the foreign affairs doctrine, an en banc panel of eleven Ninth Circuit appellate judges in San Francisco heard oral arguments from the parties on the same issue before taking the matter under submission. Plaintiffs-Appellees were represented by K. Lee Boyd of Los Angeles law firm Schwarcz, Rimberg, Boyd Rader LLP, Vartkes Yeghiayan of the Yeghiayan Law Firm, and Mark Geragos of Geragos Geragos. A video recording of the full oral argument can be accessed here: www.centerarnews.com
The case is Movsesian v. Victoria Versicherung, originally filed by descendants of Armenian Genocide victims in 2003, and names as defendants German insurance companies Victoria Versicherung AG, Ergo Versicherungsgruppe AG and parent company Munich Re. The action accuses defendants of selling insurance policies to Armenians prior to 1915, when the government of the Ottoman Turkish Empire initiated a genocidal campaign against Armenians living in Turkey. In the aftermath of the massacres and deportations which resulted in the death of over 1.5 million Armenians, survivors were scattered far and wide around the world. Defendants failed to provide information about the insurance policies issued to Armenians and refused to honor claims. As a result, thousands of policies remain unpaid, divesting beneficiaries, heirs, and rightful successors of the benefits due to them. Defendants’ continued election not to pay claims on these policies thwarts even the smallest ! opportunity for genocide victims to pass some legacy on to their survivors.
The League of Nations, in the 1920’s, asked insurance companies doing business in the Ottoman Empire to provide the names of Armenian policy holders. The League of Nations stated that Armenian orphans were in desperate condition and could benefit from the policies that their parents had obtained, and therefore requested companies to issue a list of names. Victoria was the only insurance company to identify almost 300 Armenian policy holders. This lawsuit is brought on behalf of surviving heirs of those policies.
The case mirrors other successful actions against insurance firms filed in the Los Angeles federal court: Kyurkjian et al. v. AXA et al., Case No. 2:02-cv-01750; Ouzounian et al. v. AXA et al.,Case No. 2:05-cv-02596; and Marootian v. N.Y. Life Ins. Co., Case No. 2:99-cv-12073. The consolidated actions against AXA and N.Y. Life both resulted in multi-million-dollar settlements benefiting the families and beneficiaries of genocide victims.
The district court’s 2007 decision upholding the California statute has been the subject of two previous three-judge panel decisions at the Ninth Circuit. In 2010, the most recent panel decision concluded “that there is no express federal policy forbidding the state to use the term Armenian Genocide,” and therefore affirmed the decision of the district court that the statute is not preempted.
For a full hour on Wednesday morning in a San Francisco courtroom, the eleven appellate judges fired questions at counsel for both parties, seeking clarity on a variety of issues from conflict and field preemption and their effect on the California statute to possible war-time exemption clauses in insurance policies. Ms. Boyd vociferously argued that the court should uphold the “constitutional equilibrium between federal and state power” and allow the statute to stand because California was acting within its traditional responsibility in providing for payment of “garden-variety” insurance claims. She argued that the statute simply extends the statute of limitations for a group of people with special needs in establishing the elements of contract claims. Mr. Geragos further noted that the statute should simply be characterized as extending the limitations period for a particular class of plaintiffs.
California federal and state legislators, as well as the states of California, Hawai’i, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Rhode Island, filed amicus briefs supporting Plaintiffs-Appellees and the state statute.
Given the success of the similar cases of AXA and N.Y. Life and the increasing awareness of the historical plight of Armenians, proponents of justice for victims of human rights violations and their heirs would welcome an en banc affirmance of the 2010 panel decision and the district court’s original 2007 decision.

Article source: http://massispost.com/?p=5191

Turkish PM Erdogan Lashes Out at France Over Genocide Bill


ANKARA — Turkey’s prime minister on Saturday sharply criticized France for a bill that would make it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide, AP reported.
Saying France should investigate what he claimed was its own “dirty and bloody history” in Algeria and Rwanda, Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted Turkey would respond “through all kinds of diplomatic means.”
On Dec. 22, the lower house of French Parliament will debate a proposal that would make denying the Armenian Genocide punishable by up to a year in prison and 45,000euro ($58,500) in fines, putting it on par with Holocaust denial, which was banned in the country in 1990.
Erdogan lashed out at France during a joint news conference with Mustafa Abdul-Jalil – the chairman of Libya’s National Transitional Council – saying there were reports that France was responsible for the deaths of 45,000 people in Algeria in 1945 and for the massacre of up to 800,000 people in Rwanda in 1994.
“No historian, no politician can see genocide in our history,” Erdogan said. “Those who do want to see genocide should turn around and look at their own dirty and bloody history.”
“The French National Assembly should shed light on Algeria, it should shed light on Rwanda,” he said, in his first news conference since recovering from surgery three weeks ago.
France had troops in Rwanda, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame has accused the country of doing little to stop the country’s genocide.
There was no immediate reaction from France. Ties between the two countries are already strained by French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s opposition to Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
Erdogan’s criticism comes a day after an official said the Turkish leader had written to Sarkozy warning of grave consequences if the Armenian Genocide bill is adopted. A Turkish diplomat said Turkey would withdraw its ambassador to France is the law is passed.
“I hope that the (French Parliament) steps back from the error of misrepresenting history and of punishing those who deny the historic lies,” Erdogan said. “Turkey will stand against this intentional, malicious, unjust and illegal attempt through all kinds of diplomatic means.”
Erdogan called the proposed bill a “populist” act, suggesting it was aimed at winning the votes of Armenian-French in elections in France next year.

Article source: http://massispost.com/?p=5202

Congressman Schiff Questions Secretary Clinton About Her Remarks on the Armenian Genocide


WASHINGTO, DC — Today, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) expressed his strong concerns over remarks Clinton made last month, while speaking at a State Department presentation, in response to a question regarding the Armenian Genocide.
Schiff conveyed that her mischaracterization of the Armenian Genocide was the cause of “much anguish” in the Armenian-American community, as well as for many human rights advocates. He was sharply critical of the comment by saying that “tragically this is in the line of the Turkish government.” Schiff’s comments follow a bipartisan letter that he and Representative Robert Dold (R-IL) spearheaded and sent to the Secretary.
Citing the voluminous U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide, including the U.S. filing before the International Court of Justice in 1951 that referred to the “Turkish massacres of Armenians” as an example of genocide, the 1981 proclamation by President Ronald Reagan which invoked “the genocide of the Armenians,” and both President Obama’s and Clinton’s statements as Senators, Schiff put the question bluntly of the Secretary of State whether she now held a “different view.”
Explaining that her comments were in reference to the French Parliament’s recent legislation on the Armenian Genocide, and thus should be viewed in that context, Clinton then restated the Administration’s position by referencing President Obama’s several April 24 commemorative statements. Clinton also invoked Obama’s call for a “full, frank, and just acknowledgment.”
Returning to his point about the importance of clarity on the Armenian Genocide, Congressman Schiff reminded the Secretary of the continuing consequences of delaying U.S. affirmation. He noted that the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning California legislation, which extended that statute of limitations to allow descendents of survivors to bring life insurance claims for policies dating from the Armenian Genocide era, was due to the inability of the federal government to speak forcefully and truthfully as then-Senator Obama stated in 2008. The court’s decision effectively denied redress to the victims of genocide.
Representatives Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) and Steve Rothman (D-NJ) associated themselves with Congressman’s Schiff’s remarks. In addition, Congressman Jackson expressed concern regarding the 18 percent across the board cut in the Europe and Eurasia account, which also impacts Armenia.

Article source: http://massispost.com/?p=5761

Davutoglu: Turkey ‘Ready To Share Armenian Pain’


ANKARA — Turkey is ready to share the pain of Armenians ahead of the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian massacres in the Ottoman Empire, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reportedly said late on Tuesday.
“We want to share the pain of those who are ready to share it with us,” Davutoglu was quoted as saying by Anatolia news agency in an interview with state-run television TRT Haber.
“It is necessary to keep channels open in order to share history,” he said in remarks cited by the AFP news agency.
His remarks came after France’s Constitutional Council struck down a government-backed law criminalizing denials of the 1915 events as genocide on the grounds that it contradicts the French constitution and violated freedom of expression; the council’s rejection was quickly welcomed by Turkey.
“If third countries intervene into this issue, it will be a mistake; it will not help,” he said, adding that the problem would only become deadlocked otherwise.
Davutoglu did not say if Ankara could eventually acknowledge that some 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians were massacred during World War I in the first genocide of the 20th century.
Successive Turkish governments have for decades insisted that Armenians died in much smaller numbers and as a result of civil strife, rather than a premeditated government policy. Some Turkish leaders, notably Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have said that it was Armenians who massacred Turks.

Article source: http://massispost.com/?p=5764

Turkey Heightens Pressure On France Over Armenian Genocide Bill

French Foreign Ministry Warns Turkish Government Against Resorting to Economic Reprisals

ANKARA, PARIS — Turkey ratcheted up pressure on France on Tuesday in a last-ditch attempt to scuttle the passage by the French parliament of a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide.
“It is not possible for us to accept this bill, which denies us the freedom to reject unfair and groundless accusations targeting our country and our nation,” Turkish President Abdullah Gul said in a statement cited by the AFP news agency.
“I want to hope that France will not sacrifice centuries-old Turkish-French friendship, common interests and bonds of alliance for small political calculations,” Gul said in reference to next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections in France.
France has an estimated 500,000 citizens of Armenian descent.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan likewise warned late last week of “grave consequences” for bilateral relations if the bill is approved by the National Assembly, the lower house of the French parliament.
Under the proposed legislation, which is due to be debated on Thursday, anyone in France publicly denying that the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide could face a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($58,000). French President Nicolas Sarkozy signaled support for its passage when he visited Yerevan in October.
Gul issued the warning as a delegation of Turkish lawmakers and businessmen met with officials in Paris and urged France to drop the bill. “If this law is adopted, there will be a lot of damage and consequences for the two countries,” said Rifat Hisarciklioglu, head of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges.
A Turkish government source told AFP on Tuesday that Ankara will impose diplomatic and trade sanctions on Paris if French lawmakers adopt the law. “Turkey will not remain silent. That will obviously have consequences,” the source said. “We have already discussed our plans if the bill is adopted at the French National Assembly on Thursday.”
In particular, added the source, close to 1,000 French companies in Turkey, as well as those in partnership with Turkish companies, will be excluded from public contracts, especially in the field of transport.
The French Foreign Ministry warned the Turkish government against resorting to economic reprisals. According to the DPA news agency, ministry spokesman Bernard Valero reminded Ankara of its international commitments.
Turkey’s membership of the World Trade Organization and customs union with the European Union “imply a non-discriminatory treatment with regard to companies from the European Union,” Valero said.

Article source: http://massispost.com/?p=5216

French Constitutional Council Rules Against Armenian Genocide Bill


PARIS — France’s top judicial body on Tuesday rejected as unconstitutional a French National Assembly bill backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy to punish denial of the Armenian genocide claiming that it infringed on freedom of expression.
The Constitutional Council ruled that the bill passed by both houses of the French parliament amounts to an “unconstitutional infringement of the exercise of freedom of expression and communication.”
“It is legitimate for the Parliament to institute indictments on abuse of the exercise of freedom of expression and communication that violate public order and the rights of others. However, the infringement of the exercise of this freedom — which is a prerequisite for democracy and a guarantee of respect for other rights and freedoms — must be necessary, appropriate and proportionate to the aim pursued,” the council said in a statement posted on its website.
The Turkish government, which has strongly condemned the bill and imposed sanctions on Paris as a result, was quick to hail the development. In a written statement cited by Turkish media, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the decision set an important precedent. Davutoglu also thanked the more than 140 French lawmakers who challenged the bill’s legality at the Constitutional Council late last month.
Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian reaffirmed Yerevan’s strong support for criminalizing Armenian genocide denial in an interview with the Austrian magazine “Der Standard” publicized earlier on Tuesday. He said the bill reflects “the view of all French people” and “can only be useful for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.”
While the Council’s ruling is final, Sarkozy vowed on February 1 that he would submit a new draft of the law if the Constitutional Council rejected it.

Article source: http://massispost.com/?p=5740

Synopsis of the Book ” Judgment at Istanbul: The Armenian Genocide Trials”

New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2011. 363p. ISBN 978-0-85745-251-1 (hardback), ISBN 978-0-85745-286-3 (ebook) by Vahakn N. Dadrian and Taner Akçam

This book is a study of the World War I Armenian Genocide as documented through the Ottoman Special Military Tribunal’s criminal prosecution of the perpetrators involved. The aim of these post-World War I Ottoman courts-martial was the exposure and punishment of the organizers of the crime. As the courts-martial unfolded over nearly three years (1919–1922), the near omnipotent role played in the organization of the Genocide by the top leaders of a militarized political party, the Young Turk junta—along with their governmental subordinates—became all too evident. That party was the Ittihad ve Terakki, or the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP).
This study is almost entirely anchored on original and authenticated documents. The evidence these documents yield is by no means ordinary in nature, but is rather a kind of evidence that is legally characterized as “evidence-in-chief.”
Most importantly, the documentation for the trials was rendered both incontestable and verifiable by a distinct legal procedure the Tribunal adopted: when on the witness stand, the principal defendants were invited to examine and confirm the authenticity of the many secret and top secret documents bearing their own signatures. Most of these documents had been secured and authenticated during the pretrial investigations by officials from the ministries of Interior and Justice. The authentication formula used was, “it conforms to the original.”
This book represents firsts in many ways.

1. This is the first time the complete known documentation of the trial proceedings are being provided in English. This study is based authentic Turkish documentation, which the Ottoman government was forced to release during the trials. It includes the personal, eyewitness testimony of high-ranking Ottoman officials, given under oath, on the magnitude of the crimes against the Armenians. The indictments, evidence, and verdicts clearly prove the centralized planning and the genocidal intent of Young Turk government against its Armenian citizens.
2. This is the first time information from the Ottoman newspapers of the era, whose collection, digitization, editing, transliteration and translation was commissioned by the Zoryan Institute as part of the long-term project known as “Creating a Common Body of Knowledge” has been utilized to reconstruct the trials. While the official government record lists only twelve trials, the newspapers provide details on sixty-three. Between 2001 and 2004, researchers went to libraries in different cities in Turkey to locate and digitize all the articles in seventeen Ottoman newspapers from 1919 to 1921 on the trials. It was important not to alert officials about the intent of the project, or access might well have been blocked. In the end, Zoryan has a nearly complete collection of hundreds of articles on the trials from Ottoman newspapers. These articles have been transliterated into modern Turkish, and the titles of the articles translated into English. Digital images of these newspapers are now in Zoryan’s archives.
3. This is the first time a national court successfully prosecuted such a case of mass atrocity against its own citizens. The legal principle of “crimes against humanity” that arose in this case had a far-reaching influence and is echoed in the Nuremberg Charter, the Tokyo Charter, and the UN Genocide Convention.
4. This is the first joint publication by the two most internationally renowned scholars on the Armenian Genocide—Professors Vahakn Dadrian, an Armenian, and Taner Akcam, a Turk.
Wartime Cabinet ministers, Young Turk party leaders, and a number of other accessories were court-martialed for orchestrating Turkey’s entry into World War I and for the annihilation of the Armenians. Most were found guilty and received sentences ranging from prison with hard labor to death. Talât, Enver, Cemal, and Dr. Nazim were condemned to death in absentia.
On January 13, 1921, the Courts Martial were abolished altogether, with jurisdiction reverting to regular military courts. Nearly all of the key figures of the CUP managed to escape Turkey before being brought to trial. Scores of lesser CUP leaders were condemned to death in absentia or sentenced to prison terms. However, many of these eventually escaped or were set free, as the Allied Powers were very slow in implementing the trials, constantly undermined each other, and removed their forces from occupying Turkey, while at the same time freeing tens of thousands of prisoners of war, who readily joined the Kemalist insurgency. The July 24, 1923 Treaty of Lausanne was framed in such a way as to avoid the subject of war crimes and massacres. With Declaration VIII of Amnesty and the Protocol attached to this treaty, and as Kemalism gained the upper hand and eventually ended the Ottoman Empire, the pursuit of justice for the Armenians was abandoned.
The Armenian Genocide represents the first case of genocide, as described by Raphael Lemkin, the legal scholar who coined the term “genocide,” in which a government tried to eliminate an identifiable ethnic or religious group of its own citizens, and is recognized as the prototype for what specialists refer to as “modern genocide.” It serves as a classic example of how impunity for one crime can lead to another crime, as Adolf Hitler infamously justified his plans by asking his generals in 1939, “Who remembers now the extermination of the Armenians?”
Judgment at Istanbul: The Armenian Genocide Trials adds a new perspective to the historical and moral studies of the Genocide and serves as a legal case study of the Armenian Genocide. It holds great relevance today, with the current interest internationally regarding the Armenian Genocide and its denial.
See the Table of Contents attached for an outline of the book.

About the Authors
Vahakn N. Dadrian’s field of specialization is genocide in general and the Armenian Genocide in particular. For several years he was engaged as Director of a large Genocide Study Project sponsored by the H. F. Guggenheim Foundation. The project’s first major achievement was the publication, now in its fifth printing expanded, of an extensive volume titled The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus (Oxford Providence, RI, 1995). This work has appeared in French (Paris, 2nd printing) and in Greek (Athens). Professor Dadrian’s other major work, German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide: A Review of the Historical Evidence of German Complicity, was published in 1996 (Cambridge, MA) and is now in its third edition. His third volume, Warrant for Genocide: The Key Elements of the Turko-Armenian Conflict, appeared in 1999 (London and New Brunswick, NJ). His latest book is titled The Key Elements of the Turkish Denial of the Armenian Genocide (Cambridge, MA and Toronto, 1999). This book was translated into Spanish in Buenes Aires (2002). In addition to these monographs, Dadrian has published numerous articles in scholarly journals around the world. His extensive list of publications includes several articles on the Jewish Holocaust and the victimization of the American Indians. In 2005, he received four separate awards for his lifetime contribution to genocide studies. Professor Dadrian currently is Director of Genocide Research at the Zoryan Institute.
Taner Akçam was born in the province of Ardahan in the northeast of Turkey and became interested in Turkish politics at an early age. As the editor-in-chief of a political journal, he was arrested in 1976 and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. One year later, he escaped and fled to Germany as a political refugee. His books include Dialogue Across an International Divide: Essays Towards a Turkish-Armenian Dialogue (2001), From Empire to Republic: Turkish Nationalism and the Armenian Genocide (2004). A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility was published in November 2006 and has since been translated into Dutch, French, Italian, Polish and Spanish. He is the first Turkish scholar to have drawn attention to the historicity of the Armenian Genocide and has been persecuted by the Turkish state for it. In April 2006, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts presented a distinguished award to him for his outstanding work in human rights and fighting genocide denial. Currently, he is Associate Professor of History and the Kaloosdian/Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University.

Table of Contents
Ottoman-Turkish Words and Names xi
Introduction 1
Vahakn N. Dadrian and Taner Akçam
PART I. The Conditions Surrounding the Trials
Chapter 1. History of the Turko-Armenian Conflict 13 – Vahakn N. Dadrian
Chapter 2. Military Defeat and the Victors’ Drive for Punitive Justice 19 – Vahakn N. Dadrian
Chapter 3. The Preparations for Courts-Martial 78 – Vahakn N. Dadrian
Chapter 4. The Initiation of Courts-Martial 93- Vahakn N. Dadrian
Chapter 5. Emergent Kemalism and the Courts-Martial 101 – Vahakn N. Dadrian
Chapter 6. The Series of Major Trials and the Related Verdicts: Falsification of the Arguments of “Relocation,” “Civil War,” and “Intercommunal Clashes” 108 – Vahakn N. Dadrian
Chapter 7. Legal Proceedings as a Conceptual Framework 126 – Vahakn N. Dadrian
Chapter 8. A Summary of the Conditions Surrounding the Trials 154 – Vahakn N. Dadrian
9. The Judicial Liquidation of Some of the Arch Perpetrators by Both CUP and Kemalist Authorities, and the Demise of Other Accomplices 177 – Vahakn N. Dadrian
PART II. The Trials and Beyond
Chapter 10. Death Sentences Handed Down by the Military Tribunal in Istanbul 195 – Taner Akçam
Chapter 11. Coverage of the Trials by the Istanbul Turkish Press 200 – Taner Akçam
Chapter 12. Formation and Operation of the Ottoman Military Tribunals 251 – Taner Akçam
Chapter 13. The Full Texts in English of the Indictments and Verdicts 271
Appendix 333
Glossary of Terms 335
Archival, Judicial, and Parliamentary Documents 337
I. The Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic 337
II. Imperial Germany and German Official Records 342
III. Imperial Austria-Hungary 344
IV. Great Britain 345
V. T e United States 346
VI. United Nations 346
VII. France and French Archives 346
VIII. Armenian Archival Documents 346
Select Bibliographic Secondary Sources 348
Books 348
Turkish 348
English 350
German 351
French 351
Armenian 351
Articles 352
Turkish 352
English 352
German 353
Armenian 353
Newspapers 354
Turkish 354
French 354
American 354
British 355
Canadian 355
Australian 355
Armenian 355
Index 356

Article source: http://massispost.com/?p=5219

The Armenian Genocide Commemoration Essay Contest for High School and College Students


NEW YORK — Co-Sponsored by The Knights Daughters of Vartan and Facing History and Ourselves
High School and College students are invited to participate in an essay contest to actively support the 97th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in April 2012. One winner and two runner-ups will be selected by a distinguished panel of judges. First place winner will receive $300, second place runner-up will receive $200, and third place runner-up will receive $100. The winners will also be recognized at the Armenian Genocide Commemoration at Times Square on Sunday, April 22, 2012, which will take place from 2–4pm, and depending on time constraints, may read their essays.
Question to Address in Essay: “How can international recognition of the Armenian Genocide help prevent future crimes against humanity?”
Requirements of Essay: Word-document (.doc or .docx compliant), 800 words maximum, double-spaced, 11 point Arial type font, with each page clearly numbered. At the top of each page, please include student’s full name and age, teacher’s full name and subject area, name of high school or college, graduating year in school, hometown and state, phone number, and e-mail address.
Deadline for submissions: Friday, March 30, 2012.
Submissions via e-mail to: Lucine Kinoian at April24NYC@gmail.com
The three winners will be contacted directly and announced to the mainstream and Armenian media the week of Monday, April 9.
Co-sponsors of the contest include the Knights Daughters of Vartan, www.knightsofvartan.org, an Armenian fraternal organization; and Facing History and Ourselves, www.facinghistory.org, an international educational and Professional development organization.

Article source: http://massispost.com/?p=5719

French Parliament Passes Genocide Law for Armenian Genocide (Updated)

Turkey Recalls Ambassador from Paris

PARIS — France’s lower house of parliament passed a bill making it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide.
The motion was backed in a voice vote and now moves to the Senate which hasn’t set a timetable to debate it.
The vote followed a four-hour debate broadcast live through the Internet and watched by members of France’s influential Armenian community as well as thousands of Turks demonstrating outside the parliament.

Under the adopted legislation, anyone in France publicly denying the Armenian Genocide could face a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($58,000).

The main author of the bill, UMP deputy Valerie Boyer, dismissed critics’ claims that it will infringe on freedom of expression and discourage debate on one of the darkest episodes of Turkey’s history.

“Freedom of speech and state propaganda are very different things,” Boyer said in an apparent reference to successive Turkish governments’ vehement genocide denial.

Another UMP parliamentarian, Patrice Calmejane, drew parallels between criminalizing public denial of the Jewish Holocaust and the Armenian genocide. “Recognition of the Shoah has not prevented historians from doing their job,” he said.

The law would punish denial of any genocide recognized by French law with as long as a year in prison and a 45,000-euro ($59,000) fine. The measure, presented by a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party, has been rewritten to remove direct references to Turkey and Armenians. The French parliament voted in 2001 to recognize the World War I massacres of Armenians as genocide. In 2006, the lower house voted to criminalize its denial, though the bill later failed in the Senate.

Almost all the lawmakers who spoke in the debate mentioned the wartime killings of Armenians and criticized Turkey. A member of Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement Renaud Muselier, who represented the party in the debate; stated that it Is not aimed at Turkey but rather the motion “is a law that allows us to fight denial.”

Turkey Recalls Ambassador

Turkey responded to the unprecedented measure by recalling its ambassador in Paris and imposing a raft of political and military sanctions on France. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the bill’s passage will open “very grave and irreparable wounds” in Turkish-French relations. “From now on we are revising our relations with France,” he said.

The AFP news agency also quoted Erdogan as saying that Ankara will suspend mutual political visits as well as joint military projects with its NATO ally. Turkey will now decide on a case-by-case on every military demand made by EU member France to use Turkish airspace and military bases, he said, and will from now on reject any French demand for its military vessels to dock at Turkish ports.

“France has trampled on the principles of its own revolution: Liberty, equality and fraternity,” Erdogan declared, according to the DPA news agency. “I ask you: Is there freedom of thought and freedom of expression in France? The answer is, ‘No.’ France has abolished the spirit of free discussion,” he charged.

Earlier, about 3,000 French nationals of Turkish origin demonstrated there peacefully ahead of the vote on a day that also marks 32 years since a Turkish diplomat was assassinated by Armenian militants in central Paris.

Article source: http://massispost.com/?p=5226

Armenian Council of Europe Commends the French Parliament

On Thursday, France’s lower house of parliament approved a motion making it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide. Specifically the motion “reprehends the contesters of genocides accepted by law” including the Armenian Genocide which the French parliament voted in 2001 to recognize the World War I massacres of Armenians as genocide.

France’s 400,000 strong ethnic Armenian communities comprise mostly of decedents of those who survived the Armenian Genocide committed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire. These communities have established churches, schools, cultural organizations, sports clubs, and political organizations. The following is an interview with Mr. Kevork Satchlian, Chairman of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party’s Armenian Council of Europe after France’s lower house of parliament passed the law on Genocides.

Massis Post: Mr. Satchlian, can you explain your feelings on today’s proceedings?

I am very pleased and thank the Parliamentarians who helped push this motion through the lower house. Yet we have a lot work to be done, the struggle is not over, rather this once again is just the beginning process to make this law into reality.

Massis Post: Mr. Satchlian, how instrumental was your organization, the Armenian Council of Europe in obtaining this victory?

In all honesty, this is not a victory that any one Armenian organization can take credit for. Rather this is a culmination of our collective activities to push the passage of this motion in the lower house of parliament.

French Parliamentarian René Rouquet and Mr. Kevork Satchlian

I can tell you, as part of that effort, the ACE along with all of the Hunchakian affiliated organizations pressed on our membership, families, Armenian and non Armenian friends and even elected officials to contact and urge their members of parliament to pass this bill. We also, as an organization, directly advocated Parliamentarians. This was evident at our recent meetings with Parliamentarians; André Santini a leading member of Nouveau Centre party (the new right-of-center party in the French Parliament) and René Rouquet a leading member of France’s Socialist Party, we expressed the importance of this motion’s passage to our organization as well as France’s Armenian community.

Massis Post: Mr. Satchlian, you mentioned that a lot more must be done for this to become actual law, can you elaborate?

Armenians must not forget that we have gone through this process once before, when in 2006, the lower house voted to criminalize the denial, yet the bill later failed in the Senate. Once again we face the same dilemma, it passed France’s lower house, yet it is not scheduled for a vote in the French Senate. After February 2012 the Parliament will be at a standstill for the May Presidential elections and the Parliamentary election that are to follow. Consequently, if the motion does not pass the French Senate by February 2012 it will virtually be impossible for it to become law.

On the positive side, all of the French political forces, including President Sarkozy and his soon to be Presidential opponent Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party have articulated their will to make this motion into law. This is significant in particular because France’s Socialist Party in 2011 won control of the Senate for the first time in more than fifty years.

Therefore, ACE commends the French Parliament, but we also realize that our work is far from over.

Article source: http://massispost.com/?p=5233

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'Genocide Monument'

Using the unrecognized Genocides of the past as a reason to keep vigilance on all current ones around the world. The iPhone app is now available free on the Apple App Store. The Android and Blackberry versions of 'Genocide Monument' are currently being funded for production.