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February 02, 2007

Well, That Settles It Then

If anyone was under the misapprehension that the European Union was some cuddly liberal type thing here's the proof that it isn't:

People who question the official history of recent conflicts in Africa and the Balkans could be jailed for up to three years for "genocide denial", under proposed EU legislation.

Germany, current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, will table new legislation to outlaw "racism and xenophobia" this spring.

Included in the draft EU directive are plans to outlaw Holocaust denial, creating an offence that does not exist in British law.

But the proposals, seen by The Daily Telegraph, go much further and would criminalise those who question the extent of war crimes that have taken place in the past 20 years.

The legislation will trigger a major row across Europe over free speech and academic freedom.


Berlin's draft EU directive extends the idea of Holocaust denial to the "gross minimisation of genocide out of racist and xenophobic motives", to include crimes dealt with by the International Criminal Court.

The ICC was set up in 2002 following international outcry about war crimes and alleged genocides in the former Yugoslavia and in Africa. It was felt that the courts in those countries were either unable or unwilling to ensure justice was done.

The draft text states: "Each member state shall take the measures necessary to ensure that the following intentional conduct is punishable: 'publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in'... the Statute of the ICC."

They want to take away the right to free speech.

Fuck 'em. Can we leave yet?


February 2, 2007 in European Union | Permalink


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Yup. You've finally convinced me. I'm now verging on becoming paranoid about the EU too.

I suspect the implicit issue at stake here is "holocaust denial". Britain has no law proscribing holocaust denial - simply because we have no need for one, which stands as a permanent silent symbol of censure upon those EU countries where internal stability is crucially dependent on retaining such laws.

The reason why a law prohibiting holocaust denial isn't necessary in Britain is because, apart from a small lunatic fringe, we don't have folks here going around denying the well-documented history of the holocaust.

British troops were among the first to come upon the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the advance of Allied forces through Germany in the spring of 1945. Newsreels of what was found at the Belsen camp were shown in cinemas in Britain in 1945 and copies have been retained in national archives since, along with contemporary records of the testimonies of the hundreds of British troops who were there at the time or shortly after.

As a small boy, I saw the newsreels about Belsen on the occasion of a visit to a news cinema at Victoria Station in the spring of 1945 - a rare treat in wartime London as there was no TV news then. The images in the newsreel were so horrific that they have been engraved in my mind ever since. Instantly recognisable clips of the same newsreels featured in the spate of BBC documentaries in 1999 commemorating the 60th anniversary of the start of WW2. If ever Europeans think seriously about the issues, the value of having no laws proscribing holocaust denial is precisely because it becomes so much easier to recognise the lunatic fringe in politics.

Inevitably, in resisting the proposed EU Directive, we can appear to be affirming holocaust denial when that is not so at all. There is no need for an EU Directive - this is an issue best left to national legislation when absolutely necessary.

Btw the existence of the concentration camps in Nazi Germany was recognised in Britain long before the start of WW2. We have this entry in George Orwell's research diary for the book that was to become: The Road to Wigan Pier (1937). The entry for 16 March 1936 reads in part:

"Last night to hear Mosley speak at the Public Hall [in Barnsley], which is in structure a theatre. It was quite full – about 700 people I should say. About 100 Blackshirts on duty, with two or three exceptions weedy looking specimens, and girls selling Action etc. Mosley spoke for an hour and a half and to my dismay seemed to have the meeting mainly with him. He was booed at the start but loudly clapped at the end. Several men who tried to interject with questions were thrown out . . . one with quite unnecessary violence. . . . M. is a very good speaker. His speech was the usual clap-trap – Empire free trade, down with the Jew and the foreigner, higher wages and shorter hours all round etc. After the preliminary booing the (mainly) working class audience was easily bamboozled by M speaking as it were from a Socialist angle, condemning the treachery of successive governments towards the workers. The blame for everything was put upon mysterious international gangs of Jews who were said to be financing, among other things the British Labour Party and the Soviet. . . . M. kept extolling Italy and Germany but when questioned about concentration camps etc always replied 'We have no foreign models; what happens in Germany need not happen here.' . . . "
George Orwell: The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters, Vol. 1 An Age Like This 1920-1940 (Penguin Books) p.230.

Posted by: Bob B | Feb 2, 2007 12:54:19 PM

"criminalise those who question the extent of war crimes"

What, even if we say that they were worse than reported?

Posted by: Ian Bennett | Feb 2, 2007 2:01:10 PM

So, presumably, under this law, someone who was charged with committing genocide and tried to deny doing it at their trial...

would be guilty of denying crimes of genocide...

Posted by: Andy | Feb 2, 2007 8:23:46 PM

Will there be an approved and uncontroversial account of the Thirty Years War in Europe 1618-48?

Will accounts of English history such as this become unlawful in order to maintain religious harmony?

What of the embarrassing fact that it took the Roman Catholic Church until 1992 to officially exonerate Galileo for publicising his heretical notion of a heliocentric universe as an alternative to the orthodoxy of the Ptolemaic system approved by the Church?

Posted by: Bob B | Feb 3, 2007 2:40:11 PM


I saw the Draft Framework last night: it is even worse from a blogging point of view because it contains Artices that specifically cover "information systems", no matter where they are hosted.

I've summarised here and I shall post the paper when my contact allows me to release it.


Posted by: Devil's Kitchen | Feb 3, 2007 8:48:07 PM