ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–A French citizen of Turkish origin was sentenced to pay 1,500 euros after she sued a party official for discrimination regarding the official’s question on whether she recognized the Armenian Genocide.
Sirma Oran was a candidate from the Green Party in France for local elections but removed herself from candidacy after Villeurbanne Mayor Jean-Paul Bret asked her whether she accepted as genocide the annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turkey.
Oran, the daughter of Professor Baskin Oran, a liberal who campaigns in Turkey for reconciliation with Armenians, said then that the question was not asked to other candidates and that she was discriminated against because of her origin. Oran sued Bret for discrimination, in a case closely followed by the Turkish and Armenian communities in France.
The court of Lyon recently rejected Oran’s plea and fined her 1,500 euros and another 350 euros for court expenses. “French law recognizes the genocide,” the court stated in its decision. “Bret has the right to ask this question to Sirma Oran.”
“The political parties put together their lists freely during the electoral process, and they cannot be subjects of criminal courts in terms of politics,” the court said.
Oran was the first person of Turkish origin to receive a court sentence for “denying the Armenian genocide.” A case was filed against Aydin Sezgin, former Turkish consul general to Paris, but was dropped because he was a diplomat.
Members of the Armenian diaspora also sued revisionist professor Bernard Lewis on the same subject four times. Lewis was ordered to pay a symbolic fine of one frank in the last case.
Oran said the reason she removed her candidacy after the mentioned dialogue was that she realized that Bret would never accept her as an equal French citizen. “This decision [of the court] approves the discrimination Bret practiced and I think it is shameful,” said Oran. “This was a case of discrimination. Genocide is not my subject. It is a matter that goes beyond me and [other] individuals but Bret and the judge transformed it into one on genocide.”
Oran said the judge has stated that if a person is working for Turkish foundations, then that person can be asked about genocide. “They are not Turkish foundations but French ones aiming for harmony. This means they see people employed at Franco-Turkish foundations as potential criminals of denial.”
When asked about her personal views on the allegations of genocide, Oran said: “The genocide is a matter the Turkish and Armenian governments would solve together and one that does not interest other countries.” Oran said the Armenian diaspora living in the U.S. and France believe the matter cannot be solved without them, which is understandable but they are close to reaching a dialogue.
Oran said she would like to see democratic Armenians of Turkey and France stand by her because discrimination can happen to anyone regardless of religion and nationality. Oran also said she would object to the decision of the court and would apply to the European Court of Human Rights if it comes to that.