To sign, please send a message to the author of this communiqué, Mr Paul-Eric BLANRUE: firstname.lastname@example.org .
In France, a writer, father of eight,
is in prison for his historical research
And the so-called free press says nothing about it!
With a wife and eight children, the Frenchman Vincent Reynouard, aged 41, is a chemical engineer by training, a graduate of the ISMRA (“Institute of sciences of atomic matter and radiation”) in Caen (Normandy). He readily presents himself as a traditionalist Catholic and does not hide his ultra-conservative political opinions. But, most important, he publicly disputes, in his DVDs and writings, the conventional version of Second World War history. He is one of those researchers who declare themselves to be « revisionists » and who are called « deniers » by others because they do not believe in the existence of homicidal gas chambers in the wartime German concentration camps.
In 2005, Reynouard wrote and sent to numerous tourism offices, museums and town halls a 16-page brochure entitled « Holocaust? Here’s what’s kept hidden from you…”, in which he took a view altogether opposite to that of academic history. French justice immediately pounced upon him.
His trial in 2007 at the criminal court in Saverne (Alsace) resulted in a sentence of one year’s imprisonment, a fine of 10,000 euros and an order to pay damages of 3,000 euros to the antiracist league “LICRA”. In June 2008 the court of appeal in Colmar upheld the prison sentence and ordered him to pay a total of 60,000 euros (a 20,000 euro fine, damages, mandatory publication of the ruling and court fees). Severity as never seen before.
Since he resides in Belgium, France launched a European arrest warrant for Reynouard in order to make him serve the prison sentence ordered by the Colmar court. On July 9th he was imprisoned by the Belgian police, pending his extradition to France. All of which leads him to say: « When people can think of no other way but imprisonment to get rid of a verbal opponent, it’s because they have no arguments. »
Conclusion: A 41-year-old father of eight is currently in prison for his historical research, because of the Gayssot Act.
This Act of the French parliament (“article 24bis” of the law governing the press), having come into effect upon publication in the Journal Officiel on July 14th 1990, prohibits the « disputing (…) of the existence of one or more crimes against humanity as defined by Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal [known as the Nuremberg Tribunal] in annex to the London Agreement of August 8th, 1945. «
In my book Sarkozy, Israël et les Juifs (Oser Dire publishers, [Belgium], 2009), I recall that this freedom-killing law has been strongly criticised in the past by such personalities as the French academician Simone Veil; the Permanent Secretary of the French Academy, Hélène Carrère d’Encausse; the government ministers Jean Foyer, Jacques Toubon, Alain Peyrefitte; the historians Henri Amouroux, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Annie Kriegel, Francois Furet, Alain Besançon, Jacques Willequet and François Bédarida; the founder of the Hannah Arendt Research Institute, Chantal Delsol; the 1988 Nobel laureate for economics, Maurice Allais; the writers Michel Tournier, Louis Pauwels, Michel Houellebecq, Philip Murray, Jean Daniel, Vladimir Volkoff, Michel Rachline and Alain Robbe-Grillet; the judges Philippe Bilger, Alain Marsaud and Raoul Béteille; the legal scholars Olivier Duhamel, Anne-Marie Le Pourhiet, Emmanuelle Duverger, André Decoq and Guy Carcassonne; the lawyers Jacques Vergès and John Bastardi Daumont; the philosopher Paul Ricœur; the comedian Bruno Gaccio; defenders of the freedom of expression like the founder of Reporters Sans Frontières Robert Ménard (who denounces it as a « thought police ») and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit; the journalists Dominique Jamet, Delfeil de Ton, Alain Rollat, Albert du Roy, Philippe Tesson, Jacques Julliard and Ivan Rioufol; also by the former president of the Ligue des droits de l’homme, historian Madeleine Rebérioux. Abroad, the American linguist Noam Chomsky has declared himself an absolute opponent of it. For the Belgian physicist and intellectual Jean Bricmont, « the Gayssot Act is a legal regression of several centuries”. As for Presidents Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad, they have strongly condemned the repression resulting from this law.
Henceforth it falls to us to defend free expression in deed and not just in theory. Why is no one heard publicly denouncing the present fate of Vincent Reynouard? What are Reporters Sans Frontières, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch doing? No organ of the media, either French or foreign, has informed public opinion of this case. Such silence is abnormal.
Personally, I have decided to act as a historian and as a citizen, and to make it known, through this press release, how appalled I am at the fact that, in our country, we have a man thrown into prison for his opinions, however unusual, shocking and controversial they may be. Such treatment is not worthy of France or her intellectual tradition. It is not for the law to say how historical truth is set down: in a free country, that is the task of historians. The Gayssot Act, which restricts the historian’s freedom, is unworthy of a democratic State; it is a wicked law. I therefore ask for its immediate repeal.
I hope to be joined soon by dozens, hundreds, thousands of other people unable to remain indifferent in the face of a scandal that seriously harms the image of France and flouts the spirit of the Republic.
Those who wish to sign this communiqué along with me can send me their names and contact information at the address email@example.com. It is not a question of supporting Vincent Reynouard’s religious, political or historical ideas but of defending his right to express them. To challenge them, an open, democratic, fair and honest debate will suffice.
We shall go over the results of this request for signatures towards the end of September.
Meanwhile, thank you for circulating this text to the utmost extent.
Founder of the research group Cercle Zététique,
Author of Sarkozy, Israël et les Juifs (Oser Dire publishers, [Belgium], 2009)