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Recognition of Armenian Genocide by France

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France officially recognizes Armenian Genocide

Hollande Urges Turkey To Recognize Armenian Genocide

Ruzanna Stepanian


France’s President Francois Hollande on Tuesday urged Turkey to recognize the 1915 massacres of Armenians as genocide, saying that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent statement acknowledging their suffering is not sufficient.

Hollande said that while Erdogan’s decision to extend first-ever official Turkish condolences to the descendants of the genocide victims was “positive” Ankara should go further. “What needs to be achieved is the recognition of the genocide,” he said during an official trip to Armenia.

Hollande made a point of visiting the genocide memorial in Yerevan and laying a wreath and flowers there on Monday evening. He was accompanied by President Serzh Sarkisian.

In an unprecedented statement issued ahead of the 99th anniversary of the genocide marked on April 24, Erdogan admitted that Armenians suffered “inhumane consequences” during their “relocation” ordered by the Ottoman government. But he stopped short of acknowledging a premeditated government effort to exterminate Ottoman Turkey’s Armenian population. Even so, his declaration marked a further softening of Ankara’s decades-long policy of aggressive genocide denial.

Erdogan’s statement was welcomed by the European Union and the United States. The U.S. State Department called it “historic.”

France formally recognized the Armenian genocide with a special law passed in 2001. The French parliament went further a decade later when it adopted a law criminalizing public denial of the genocide at the initiative of Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. The law was struck down by France’s Constitutional Court in 2012.

Hollande has promised to the influential Armenian community in France that his government and the ruling Socialist Party will enact similar legislation. He has yet to fulfill that pledge.

Speaking to French journalists in Yerevan earlier on Tuesday, Hollande implied that his administration is treading carefully on the sensitive subject because it fears that the French court could overturn the new law as well. He also confirmed that he will again visit Armenia in April 2015 to take part in official ceremonies that will mark the centenary of the genocide.


PARIS, May 29, 1998 (Reuters) - France's parliament passed a bill on Friday publicly recognising the killing of Armenians by Turks in 1915 as genocide. Turkey has warned France against passing the bill, saying trade and diplomatic relations would suffer.

The bill was passed as demonstrators outside the parliament building carried a huge banner which read: ``Thank you France for recognising the Armenian genocide.

There are about 300,000 people of Armenian origin in France, most of whom are descendants of survivors of the 1915 killings in which Armenians say 1.5 million of their compatriots were massacred by Turks.

One descendant, young Gaullist parliamentarian Patrick Devedjian, was one of the key movers behind the parliamentary bill whose single sentence stated, ``France recognises the Armenian genocide of 1915.

Turkey says thousands of Turks and Armenians died in fighting between the two communities in 1915 in what is now eastern Turkey and Syria and said on Thursday that the bill would be a grave mistake.

French Parliament Commission Approves Genocide Bill

PRAGUE (RFE/RL/Reuters)-Despite strong objections from Ankara, the Armenian Genocide Resolution is pending at the French National Assembly to recognize officially the Armenian genocide by Turks that took place more than 80 years ago in what was then the Ottoman Empire. The Assembly’s action on a resolution presented by the ruling Left Government will make France the first major European Union country to acknowledge the controversial massacre. Only Greece, Turkey’s long-time adversary, has done so in the past.

The Assembly’s affirmative vote was virtually assured earlier this week (Tuesday, May 26) when its Foreign Relations Commission endorsed the resolution. Commission chairman Jack Lang is a former minister and close associate of the late Socialist President Francois Mitterrand, who himself personally but publicly recognized the Armenian Genocide while in office. Lang drafted the Assembly’s resolution and has been its strongest supporter and guiding spirit. On Thursday, he told Radio France Internationale that its passage "would rectify an historic injustice (and) honor France as well as the Armenian victims."

According to Armenians, several contemporary independent observers of the killings and many late historians, Turks systematically murdered more than a million ethnic Armenians living in Anatolia between 1915 and 1917, while Europe was preoccupied with World War One. Turkish officials have long denied that any deliberate attempt was made to exterminate the Armenian minority during those years, saying that only 300,000 were killed.

During his interview with French radio today, Lang acknowledged that the Assembly’s recognition of the Genocide would, at least temporarily, upset French-Turkish relations. Last December, the 15-nation EU decided not to grant Turkey the status of a candidate for membership and Ankara immediately cut off all political dialogue with Brussels. Throughout the six months since, France-which, unlike Germany and other EU members, has no large resident Turkish community-has sought to play the role of mediator. Paris has urged the Union to find a way to assuage Ankara’s anger at being made what it calls "a pariah nation" by the EU.

In the past few days, however, the Turkish government’s anger has been directed less at Brussels than at Paris. Earlier this week, President Suleyman Demirel said that passage of the resolution would seriously damage relations between the two countries. on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said the pending vote would "encourage violence."

Cem did not explicitly say the violence would take place in France, which is now threatened with Islamic terrorist action during the month-long World Cup soccer tournament that begins in two weeks. But he made his remarks at a ceremony in Ankara honoring victims of a 1970s and ’80s campaign by a terrorist organization calling itself the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia.

Turkish spokesman Necati Utkan said Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz had sent a letter to his French counterpart Lionel Jospin asking him to oppose the bill introduced by left-wing deputies.

"The Turkish people are extremely sensitive about the use of the word `genocide’ to describe the sad events which occurred during the Great War and they feel unjustly accused of a crime they did not commit during a time marked by great suffering on both sides," the Hurriyet daily quoted the letter as saying.

In preparing for the pending vote Lang, who has an experienced hand for public relations, has worked closely with France’s influential Armenian community, which numbers several hundred thousand and is often represented by the world- famous singer Charles Aznavour.

The demonstrators will include members of the Armenian Diaspora in Belgium, Germany, Italy and other countries, who are being bussed into Paris for the occasion. Leaders of France’s 700,000-strong Jewish community have also expressed their support for the resolution.

None of this has gone down very well at the Quai d’Orsay, the home of France’s Foreign Ministry. Officials (who requested anonymity) there told RFE/RL in telephone chats that Lang persuaded Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, another former close Mitterrand associate, to accept the resolution even though it will effectively end France’s EU-Turkey mediation for the immediate future.

Incidentally, Turkey on Thursday commemorated the Day of Fallen Diplomats, to honor victims of so-called Armenian terrorism.

Source: Asbarez On-line 5/28/1998

Chirac uses the word 'genocide'

16.12.2004 18:10

YEREVAN (YERKIR) - In an exclusive interview on Wednesday with the French TF 1 television, French President Jacques Chirac reaffirmed his country's position that Turkey should review its history and acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.

Chirac deliberately used the word "genocide" and when the reporter asked to clarify "genocide or tragedy," Chirac said "genocide," adding that the fact is a law in France, adopted by the parliament.

While the French president explained that they don't see the recognition for the Armenian Genocide as a pre-condition for Turkey's accession to the European Union, he, however, insisted on Turkey's reviewing of its past. He also said Ankara must "completely fulfill the requirements set for a candidate country. Otherwise, Chirac said, France would block the entry talks with Turkey, adding the decision over Turkey's membership is an enormous responsibility.

French Senate Passes Armenian Genocide Bill

24.01.2012 France’s upper house of parliament approved late on Monday a government-backed bill that makes it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide, despite Turkey’s threats to impose more sanctions on Paris.

The Senate backed the bill, which was passed by the French lower house on December 22, by a vote of 127 to 86 after a more than seven-hour heated debate that cut across party lines. President Nicolas Sarkozy should sign the text into law by the end of February.

Sarkozy’s government officially acknowledged its support for the controversial measure during the debate, with Patrick Ollier, the French minister in charge of relations with the parliament, openly urging senators to vote for it. Ollier said it will help to eliminate the “poison” of genocide denial.

"Denial is the supreme insult to the collective memory that we share," he said said. "It sweeps away the peoples' suffering and condemns the victims to be forgotten. Those who encourage it are fomenting hatred that could have been and should have been extinguished with time."

French bill to criminalize Armenian Genocide denial

French Senate Passes Bill Criminalizing Armenian Genocide Denial

January 23, 2012

PARIS, France (A.W.)—The French Senate passed the bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide today, despite threats and bullying from the Turkish state. The bill passed by 127 votes against 86.

The bill, drafted by member of French General Assembly Valerie Boyer, renders denial punishable with a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($58,000).

The bill now will be signed by French President Sarkozy to become law.

During the proceedings, members of the French Senate spoke powerfully and vocally in support of the bill. They noted that the bill is not directed against any specific country, and that it is merely an effort to honor the memory of genocide victims and struggle against hate speech.

On the other hand, those who opposed the bill did so on the grounds of opposing memorial laws in general, and noted that the French Senate is not a courthouse and is not a place to legislate history.

The Senate first voted to confirm the constitutionality of the bill. The Senate also voted down four proposed amendments.

French-Armenian intellectuals and artists—including Charles Aznavour, Serge Avedikian, Simon Abkarian, and Levon Sayan—had issued a call to the French Senate to pass the bill.

Commenting on the vote, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian said, ”Today’s courageous vote by the French Senate shines the spotlight across the Atlantic, on American policymakers, who, for far too long, have let Ankara block U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”

“We mark this occasion by urging President Obama to honor his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide and by calling on the U.S. House leadership to allow a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.304,” he added.

Thousands of French-Armenians gathered in front of the Senate building to express support for the bill. The Armenian crowd on the other hand, was singing Armenian national and revolutionary songs and celebrating.

Nearby, a Turks crowd had gathered. More than an hour before the voting, however, the crowd started to disperse. The Turkish newspaper Radikal, ran an article on its website titled, “The Turks went home, the Armenians have started celebrating,” in reference to the mood of the crowds during the hour leading up to the vote.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had urged the French Senate on Jan. 20 not to pass the bill, noting that it would constitute “a black stain on France’s intellectual history.”

“We will always remind them of that,” added Davutoglu.

In turn, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he may not visit France again if the Senate passed the bill, reported Hurriyet Daily News.

On Jan. 18, a French Senate committee had rejected the bill, but the committee’s decision was not binding and today’s vote proceeded as scheduled.

The bill’s passage did not come as a surprise, as both the Left and the Right in France had expressed support for it.

On Dec. 22, the French General Assembly had approved the bill, prompting Ankara to withdraw its Ambassador from Paris, only to return a few weeks later.

France had adopted a bill officially recognizing the Armenian genocide in 2001.

French-Armenian Artists Support Genocide bill

We, French artists of Armenian origin, the descendants of the Armenian Genocide, call the French senators to adopt the bill criminalizing the Armenian Genocide.

"We as descendants of the Armenian Genocide, do not wish to be hurt due to the denials of the historical fact. It injures us and the victimes of the Genocide who cannot protect themselves.

They shock us by showing that this fanaticism that led to the extermination of the Armenians of Turkey, is still at work and that we can still face it in France, where our parents and grandparents have found refuge.

We, who spread French culture in its various expressions, call the head of state, the government, and both parties who voted for this law to stand firm on their position and to ensure its ratification by the Senate in time for this legislature.

Turkey Threatens Sanctions Over Armenian Genocide Bill

France 24 Jan 23 2012

Turkey has threatened "permanent sanctions" against France if the Senate approves a bill that would criminalise denying genocides that are officially recognised by the French state.

By Tony Todd (text) Ankara will impose "permanent" sanctions against France if the Senate approves a bill to criminalise denying that the mass killing of Armenians in 1915 amounted to genocide, Turkey's foreign minister told FRANCE 24 on Sunday.

The Senate, the country's upper house of parliament, is due to vote on Monday to approve a bill that was passed by the lower National Assembly last month.

Senators from both the ruling conservative UMP party, as well as opposition Socialists, have indicated that they will vote in favour of the bill which is expected to be passed.

The draft law would outlaw any public denial of genocides recognised by the French state, including the Holocaust of the Second World War as well as the massacre of ethnic Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915.

France officially recognised the Armenian killings as genocide in 2001. The new bill would punish denial with a year's jail and a fine of up to 45,000 euros.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told FRANCE 24 that the proposed law was an affront to freedom of expression that would make him a criminal for openly discussing an "historical tragedy".

"If I am asked a question by a journalist, how could I remain silent?"

he asked. "This bill would punish me for having an opinion on an historical event. It goes against all European and French values of freedom of expression."

'Political opportunism'

The bill was passed by the French National Assembly on December 23, 2011 - a move that sparked outrage in Turkey which briefly withdrew its ambassador and froze all military cooperation with France.

Davutoglu accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is languishing in the polls ahead of elections in May, of using the bill to gain approval from France's significant Armenian population of some 500,000 voters.

"The painful history of Armenians and Turks is being used ... for political opportunism and against the basic values of politics," he said.

He added: "There will be further sanctions [if the bill is passed] and they will be permanent."

According to Armenian historians, up to 1.5 million of their forbears were killed by the Ottoman Turk forces in 1915.

They also say that property and cash criminally appropriated from the Christian Armenian minority helped Kemal Attaturk, the founder of modern Turkey, establish his Turkish republic in 1923 - something they say Turks are nowadays loath to admit.

Turkey rejects this figure and denies that the massacre amounted to genocide - claiming that 500,000 Armenians were killed in the context of a world war and an invasion of the country by Russia that was supported by the county's ethnic Armenian minority.

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Turkey To Punish France For Genocide Bill

Press TV Jan 23 2012 Iran

Turkey has threatened to punish France with "permanent" sanctions if the French Senate passes a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide.

The threat comes as French senators are preparing to vote on a controversial bill on Monday which threatens with jail and a heavy fine anyone in France who denies that the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks amounted to genocide.

Turkey says it has already prepared its response.

"We have previously determined the steps to be taken if the bill is finally adopted. No one should doubt it," state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as saying, a

Davutoglu said such a move would not help Turkish-Armenian relations.

"From now on, European values are under a great threat. I hope ...

good sense prevails in the French Senate,~T Davutoglu said.

Following the threat of sanctions, Paris appealed to Ankara for calm, saying that Turkey was an important ally of France.

Ankara froze political and military ties with Paris after the French lower house approved the controversial bill last month.

On Saturday, thousands of Turks from across the Europe rallied in Paris to protest the law.

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French Parliament Adopts Genocide Bill, Defies Turkish Fury

By Clare Byrne

Monsters and Critics Jan 23 2012

Paris - France and Turkey were headed for another diplomatic showdown Monday after the French Senate adopted a bill that makes it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks a century ago.

A majority of 127 senators voted in favour of the bill after more than seven hours of intense debate. Eighty-six members voted against and 24 votes were declared invalid.

Turkey has threatened diplomatic and economic reprisals against France if the bill, which passed the lower house of parliament in December, was definitively adopted.

Under the legislation, people who deny or 'outrageously minimize' genocides recognized by France face a year's imprisonment and 45,000 euros (57,000 dollars) in fines.

After Monday's vote, France now officially recognizes two genocides: the Nazi Holocaust of Jews during World War II and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in eastern Turkey between 1915 and 1917.

The country already has a law punishing Holocaust denial. The text adopted Monday aims to extend the same sanctions to the Armenian massacres, which a dozen countries have labelled a genocide.

Several hundred people demonstrated outside the Senate as the sparsely-attended debate got underway.

Many senators ducked out of voting on a bill that was supported by the main parties despite its risk to relations with a NATO ally.

A group of French protesters of Turkish origin denounced the bill as an attempt to impose a French reading of history.

On the other side of a phalanx of riot police, a group of Franco-Armenians demonstrated in support of the legislation. 'It's a fact (that there was genocide). All we want is for Turkey to recognize that,' an elderly woman told BFM TV.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday warned France not to underestimate Turkey, saying Ankara had prepared a raft of punitive measures.

Many Turks already feel betrayed by France because of President Nicolas Sarkozy's firm opposition to Turkey joining the European Union.

After December's Assembly vote, Ankara had already suspended bilateral cooperation and temporarily recalled its ambassador.

The Turkish embassy in Paris says that this time, diplomatic ties could be downgraded, and that French firms could find themselves frozen out of Turkish government contracts.

The French foreign ministry on Monday called for restraint and emphasized the importance of Turkey 'as a partner and ally.'

Opening the debate in the Senate, Patrick Ollier, the minister in charge of relations with parliament, said the bill was 'not about stating history but about treating genocides recognized by France equally.'

Armenians say around 1.5 million people were killed or died during forced marches to the Syrian desert between 1915 and 1917.

Turkey estimates between 300,000 and 500,000 people died but rejects the genocide label, saying that there was no systematic policy to destroy the Christian Armenian community. Turkey says that many Muslim Turks also died in the violence, which took place during World War I.

Erdogan has accused Sarkozy of using the bill, which was proposed by a member of the ruling party, to win the support of France's small but influential Armenian community ahead of this year's presidential and parliamentary elections.

Before becoming president in 2007, Sarkozy - who is expected to seek reelection in April - promised the Armenian community to push through legislation banning genocide denial.

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Sarkozy Vows New French Bill Against Armenian Genocide Denial

Ruzan Kyureghian in Paris

08.03.2012 French President Nicolas Sarkozy has reaffirmed his pledge to draft a new bill making it a crime to deny that the 1915 massacres of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey constituted genocide.

Sarkozy was instrumental in the recent passage of such legislation by the French parliament. France’s Constitutional Council struck it down as unconstitutional late last month.

“Despite the decision of the Constitutional Council, I am not resigned. The Armenian community, like others, has the right to be protected against [genocide] denialism by the law,” Sarkozy told about 100 prominent members of France’s Armenian community during an award ceremony late on Wednesday.

“So I have asked the government to prepare a new text. I can assure you of my desire to push it through, and I renew this solemn pledge in front of you,” he said in a speech at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris.

“To all you whose families were decimated by an absolutely planned extermination, to all you who regard today as a threat the obstinate [Turkish] denialism turned into state policy, I want to tell that France is on your side to refuse, to fight and to suppress the unacceptable,” Sarkozy added.

Sarkozy first pledged to again try to criminalize Armenian genocide denial just hours after the French court ruled on February 28 that the controversial bill infringes on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.

Sarkozy’s UMP party cautioned afterwards that a new bill will not be put forward before June because of France’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. The French National Assembly has already completed its tenure for that reason.

Sarkozy will be able to make good on his pledge only in case of his victory in the two-round presidential ballot scheduled for April and May. He is facing a tough reelection battle against the opposition Socialist Party’s candidate, Francois Hollande.

Analysts say that the incumbent president engineered the genocide bill’s passage late last year in the hope of winning the French-Armenian vote. Hollande also supports the idea of criminalizing genocide denial, which has long been championed by French-Armenian leaders.

French Senators Appeal To Constitutional Council Opposing Genocide Bill January 31, 2012 | 14:58

Constitutional Council of France accepted on Tuesday Senators' appeal against the bill criminalizing genocide denial, European Democratic and Social Rally parliamentary group informed AFP.

Seventy-two signatures have been collected so far, although only 60 were enough, Le Figaro writes.

With a vote of 127 in favor and 86 against, France's Senate passed on January 23 criminalizes the denial of the genocides which this country has formally recognized.

This bill sets a one-year prison sentence plus a 45-thousand-Euro fine for anyone who denies these genocides. According to the regulations, the French President will ratify it within fifteen days of the Senate's decision. And Turkey had announced earlier that if the bill were to pass, it will impose a number of sanctions against France.

Constitutional Council can censor the law which it considers unconstitutional if 60 appeals from the Senators are received.

The Council will decide whether the law is constitutional in a month.

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Armenian Genocide: The French Constitutional Council's Mistake

Bernard-Henri Lévy

03/ 6/2012

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.


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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