Yesterday a bill passed at French parliament criminalizing negation of modern times genocides. The bill proposes jail-time and fines for people who publicly deny, say the Armenian Genocide of 1915 by the Ottoman Empire causing havoc among academics most of whom claim this act is a disgrace for freedom of expression and democracy in France.
This author does not wish to engage in this debate. The salvos from both French and Turkish politicians however have bordered ridicule which in turn made this article inevitable. Especially the Turkish side often dismisses the fact that like any other human tragedy, Armenian Genocide is neither juridicial nor a political issue in its core. It is first and foremost humanitarian.
And among the people I personally know, Arshaluys (Aurora) Mardiganian’s story was the most humane of them all. Although exploited to the extreme in her youth, she was an impaccable storyteller. Her ill fate helped to this fact in a great extend. In her long life, she went though almost everything that a one could experience in one’s life. But she came out victorious to each hurdle.
But her life is utmost significant in its dose of human tragedy she experienced as a teenager in Turkey during the Genocide. She lost all her family, sold as a slave but persevered. Her story is one of the biggest pillars standing against the Turkish denial almost a century later. Written when her memories are fresh and immune to any political ambitions, the book “Ravished Armenia” stands as an important eyewitness story to the events of 1915 that took place at a land where law and order were non-existent.
During a time of debate where being right or wrong depends on your political alliances or even on your nationality, the story of Mardiganian, an original Ottoman subject, stands against all convictions. It’s only a story of human pain, neglect and tragedy that Turkish officials of the period premeditated, executed and denied for almost a century.
It is time to stop pushing righteousness, it is time to stop bickering. It is time to listen, read, and reckon. And respect.
Read the whole book; “Ravishing Armenia” here.
An excerpt from the original movie (1919) “Auction of Souls” a.k.a. “Ravishing Armenia” based on the book. (The original movie is lost. This excerpt is based on some footage found in Communist Armenia and the property of WCCA.