March 5, 2012
If you live in a country that truly values free speech, then no matter what opinion you hold - whether it's rational or irrational - you have the right to voice it. You can deny the Holocaust happened, or that men walked on the moon, without fear that you will be brought up on criminal charges. (Of course, you still risk public rebuke or humiliation from people who hold the opinion that you are ridiculous.) That freedom is generally considered a fundamental human right. So it was reassuring when France's Constitutional Council last week struck down a proposed law that would have criminalized the denial or minimizing of the genocide of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks in the early 20th century.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 24, 2012 |
Survivors of Armenian genocide victims can't sue German insurance companies for failing to pay claims because only the federal government can bring foreign entities to court, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. The 11-judge panel dismissed the case brought nearly a decade ago by Southern California Armenians, probably putting an end to their efforts to compel the German companies to pay survivors' benefits on policies sold to victims between 1875 and 1923. A 2000 revision to California's Civil Code allowed California courts to consider the Armenians' insurance claims beyond the deadline for petitioning for payouts by subsidiaries of the German insurance company now known as Munich Re. "The Constitution gives the federal government the exclusive authority to administer foreign affairs," the appeals court said in a unanimous ruling.
January 31, 2012
The genocide issue Re "Genocide bill riles Turkey," Jan. 28 The Armenian genocide question will not go away in France or in Turkey until the genocide is recorded, recognized and honored with dignity in Turkey. Getting to this point has taken nearly 100 years of parrying Turkish opinion that the killing of more than 1 million Armenians starting in 1915 does not meet the legal standard of genocide - intent to exterminate a race or a group - although many historians agree it does.
January 27, 2012 |
The object of the game is to see how hard a hand on the computer screen can slap a cartoon image of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. It made its debut only hours after the French Senate passed legislation Monday that would criminalize denial of the Armenian genocide. That bill has caused a furor in Turkey, further damaging a relationship chilled by Sarkozy's staunch opposition to Turkey's long-standing bid for membership in the European Union. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared it racist and a "massacre of free thought.
January 19, 2012 |
On Monday, the French Senate is scheduled to debate and possibly vote on a bill that would criminalize denial of the Armenian genocide of 1915, along with any other events recognized as genocide in French law. The bill has passed the lower house of Parliament. The Senate should reject it, in the name of free speech, the freedom of historical inquiry and Article 11 of France's pathbreaking 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen ("The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious rights.…")
December 25, 2011 |
REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- Israeli lawmakers plan to discuss the possibility of setting a day to commemorate the Armenian genocide of 1915-18. But the initiative is causing tension ahead of the discussion, scheduled for Monday, because of concerns over the reaction by Turkey, which denies a genocide took place. Until now, similar commemoration proposals have been referred to parliamentary committees that meet behind closed doors. This will be the first time the subject will be discussed at a committee whose meetings are public.
December 24, 2011
Should people have the right to deny historical fact? The Times' editorial board thinks so, writing on Dec. 21 that a proposed law in France to criminalize denial of the Armenian genocide would be a "monstrous violation of free speech. " Reader Janet Gross of Los Angeles took issue with the editorial board's view that genocide denial is an opinion worthy of free-speech protection: "The right to the opinion that the Armenian genocide in 1915 perpetrated by the Turks never happened should be protected?
December 22, 2011 |
Despite threats by Turkey and vocal opposition at home, French lawmakers approved a bill Thursday making it illegal to publicly deny that the Armenian genocide occurred. In retaliation, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recalled his country's ambassador and said bilateral visits would be suspended and joint military operations with France canceled, Agence France-Presse news service reported. Earlier Thursday, thousands of people waving Turkish flags protested the impending vote outside the National Assembly in Paris.
December 21, 2011
The killing of more than a million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 was an act of genocide. The Holocaust was a fact. Yet Americans are free to deny the reality of either — or make outlandish assertions of all kinds — without facing punishment by the state. Residents of France will be denied that privilege if its parliament adopts a wrong-headed bill to criminalize denial of the Armenian genocide. On Thursday the lower house of France's parliament will debate a bill that would punish those who deny the genocide with a year in prison and a $58,000 fine.
November 13, 2011
The medieval illuminated manuscript known as the Zeyt'un Gospels was rumored to hold supernatural powers that would protect the Armenian people. Whether or not that's the case, the manuscript itself has eluded destruction. Created by the Armenian illuminator T'oros Roslin in 1256 for Constantine I, the head of the Armenian Orthodox Church's Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, the book passed through unknown numbers of hands, survived the Armenian genocide and ended up in a museum of ancient manuscripts in Yerevan.