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Bernard-Henri Lévy

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Armenian Genocide: The French Constitutional Council's Mistake

Posted: 03/ 6/2012 7:36 am

The power belongs to the law.

And to the institutions of the Republic.

Thus the Constitutional Council's invalidation of the law voted by the two Houses aiming to penalize the denial of genocides is, in the eyes of the law, and until the same two Houses reconsider it, the last word.

Nonetheless.

Respect for the constitutional State and its rules should not to blind its citizens to a certain number of facts -- case in point -- that are rather disturbing.

These include, for example, the pressure exerted by representatives of Turkey before submission of the case to the Council.

And the busloads of nationalist demonstrators gathered beneath the windows of the French Senate, demanding the right to quite freely violate the memory of the dead and the honor of the survivors.

The amazing letter of January 30th, signed by one of the magnates of the CAC40, named, for the occasion, "co-president of the scientific committee," of the main Franco-Turk pressure group, the Institut du Bosphore: in it, M. de Castries, who is also the boss of Axa insurance company, implored the legislators to resist the request of French citizens of Armenian origin.

And the very composition of the Council, whose impartiality, wisdom, and distance, imperative when confronted with a deliberation of this nature, were seriously damaged by a series of stands opportunely recalled by the irreverent French weekly, Le Canard enchaîné.

Such as former Senator Haenel, the "wise man" whose affiliation with the Institut du Bosphore has never been a secret and who, for this reason, was prevented from participating in the vote. Before that, however, he did have the time to produce a report deploring the fact that the first law, that of October 2001, recognizing the genocide, "undermined bilateral economic exchanges" between France and Turkey.

Such as attorney Jacqueline de Guillenchmidt, prevented from voting as well due to her signature, in 2008, of the famous appeal of Blois "for the freedom of History" (whose love of freedom, by the by, does not go so far as to demand that Ankara release Ragip Zarakolu, the Turkish editor incarcerated for having published works by historians denouncing the systematic extermination of the Armenians).

The ineffable Michel Charasse, former minister under Mitterrand, whose reputation for "wisdom" is not particularly well established, and whose hostility to the text was a matter of common knowledge at the time the negationist lobby began its campaign.

The President of the Council and no less hilariously entertaining Jean-Louis Debré who, as Mayor of the city of Evreux in 2006, went so far as to have an inscription mentioning the victims of genocide sawn off a plaque honouring Franco-Armenian friendship.

And I am not mentioning the conditions of the submission of the case which, in the opinion of several jurists, could amount to abuse of procedure.

The point, I repeat, is not to call into question the principle of a decree that, like every decision of every republican body, is reputed to be authorless and transcending motifs, virtues, or, unfortunately, the absence of virtue of those who have inspired it.

But the policy of spreading confusion in people's minds is such that it is by no means forbidden to recall that this high body of deliberation is not so very high as we are told and, in any case, not this Supreme Court à la française so highly spoken of here and there. We may remind ourselves that it has taken several liberties with Article 3 of the order of November 7, 1958, defining its operational rules and demanding that its members "swear" to "carry out their duties" with all "impartiality," to "keep its deliberations and votes secret," to "take no public position" and "to give no consultation concerning the questions relevant to the competence of the Council."

And it is especially not forbidden to encourage those the ballet of interests and influence around this noble cause that is the truth has led to despair -- it is not forbidden to hope that the last word will not be that of the partisans of a free speech who have already given themselves away, in their haste, the day after the vote, to requalify the Armenian genocide as a "massacre" and request "historical commissions" (we've seen it all before) to establish the "reality of the facts." A discredited Council, even if it is constitutional, is not the guardian of the Truth, and, fortunately, the decision it has just taken cannot judge in advance the outcome of a battle the historians of genocides have long since won.

Not, I've said it a hundred times, the battle for I don't know what "memorial laws," the spectre of which is brandished before us every time.

But the battle for recognition of the radical singularity of occurrences of genocide, these events that are characteristic of modern times.

A law for humanity.

A law for the respect of these very rare truths, the transgression of which is a threat to each of us, because they aim at the heart of the human race.

A just and eminently universal law we count on the next president, whoever he may be, to put back on the agenda.

 
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