Daily Israel Report

France Approves Armenian Genocide Bill

French Senate votes 127 to 86 to pass the bill which makes it a crime to deny the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Turkey threatens.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/24/2012, 5:45 AM

France’s parliament on Monday approved the bill that makes it a crime to deny that the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago constituted genocide, The Associated Press reported.

According to the report, the Senate voted 127 to 86 to pass the bill late Monday. 24 people abstained. The measure sets a punishment of up to one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euro ($59,000) for those who deny or “outrageously minimize” the killings.

Last month, Turkey cancelled all political, economic and military meetings between representatives of Turkey and France after the bill was ratified in the lower house of parliament.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also forbade French aircraft from landing in Turkey and said French ships were no longer welcome in Turkey's ports.

Before Monday’s Senate vote, AP reported, Turkey threatened more measures if the bill passed, though it did not specify what those measures will be.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose party supported the bill, still needs to sign it into law, though that is largely considered a formality.

The Armenian Genocide is also called the Armenian Massacres. Armenians call it the Great Crime. It was the planned and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire around the time of World War I through massacres and forced marches. The Armenians were aiding the Russians in stirring up rebellion in Turkey, but the Turks took revenge not only on insurgents, but on innocent civilians, and between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians died during this period.

Turkey refuses to use the word genocide for the tragedy perpetrated on the Armenian minority.

Valerie Boyer, the senator from Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party who wrote the bill, said Monday that it seeks to protect the very human rights that France first defined during its revolution.

After the lower house of parliament passed the bill last month, Boyer’s life was threatened and her website was hacked.

The Knesset’s Education Committee recently held a discussion regarding an initiative presented by MKs Aryeh Eldad (National Union) and Zehava Gal-on (Meretz) to recognize the Armenian genocide. The discussion ended without a decision. Without minimizing the Armenian tragedy, there is a vast difference between what happened to the Jews and the Armenians, as the Nazi genocide was aimed at a peaceful and loyal population, the Jews, who had only helped the countries in which they lived.