France Approves Halfway Armenian Genocide Bill

World | December 22, 2011, Thursday // 14:35|  views

Turks demonstrate in front of the French National Assembly in Paris, France, on 22 December 2011 as the French parliament considers the Armenian genocide law. Photo by EPA/BGNES

France's National Assembly has approved a bill making it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War 1.

The bill, which punishes denial of genocides by a year's imprisonment and a fine of EUR 45 000, was adopted by a large majority of parliamentarians in a show of hands after a nearly four-hour debate, DPA reported. To become law it must also be approved by the Senate.

Turkey, which rejects the categorization of the mass killings of Armenians between 1915 and 1917 as genocide, had threatened "grave consequences" if the vote passed. The French parliamentary debate was also broadcast live in Turkey.

Thousands of French people of Turkish origin demonstrated outside the assembly as the French parliament considered the proposed law of French deputy Valerie Boyer, transposing Community law on the fight against racism and punishing the denial of the genocide recognized by law.

They denounced the bill, which they claimed was an attempt by the government to woo voters of Armenian origin ahead of next year's presidential and parliamentary elections.

"It's not because a powerful lobby says it (genocide) that I will say it," Halil Karayel, who travelled from the north-eastern city of Strasbourg to take part in the demonstration, told DPA.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire were either killed or died of neglect during the war. Around a dozen countries have recognized their deaths as genocide.

Ankara says between 300 000 and 500 000 Armenians died, and argues that it was largely the result of unrest during the war following the invasion by Russian forces of eastern Ottoman Turkey.

DPA stresses that the standoff is the latest to rock Franco-Turkish relations, which have already soured over French President Nicolas Sarkozy resolute opposition to Turkey joining the European Union.

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Tags: Valerie Boyer, Recep Tayipp Erdogan, French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, Armenian Genocide, genocide, Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Turkish Empire, Ottoman Turkey, turkey, Turkish, French Senate, French National Assembly, Armenians, Armenia, France, Turkish Prime Minister


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