Remembering Forgotten Ancestors: Armenian Genocide Recognized
Sarkis Hovsepi Parajaniants (a.k.a. Sergei Parajanov, 1924–1990) was an eccentric Armenian film director, born and raised in the USSR. He was imprisoned more than one time for his work but it did not change or stop him. Parajanov’s contribution to the world of Russian cinema was significant only for those visionaries who spoke the same language.
Parajanov’s film “Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors” (1965) was based on the classic book by Ukrainian writer Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky. It was the first film that put on the display Parajanov’s brilliant ability to adapt ideas that expressed his own love for out-of-the-box thinking. It reflected Parajanov’s life philosophy, appreciation for ethnographic realism, and progressive modern thinking along the lines of…freedom is the only option.
As any other artist and filmmaker Parajanov brought in his own unique sensibility to the art of storytelling through moving images. Was his work truly Armenian, Russian, or Ukrainian? Neither. As an artist he spoke the universal language that’s familiar to any audience.
We can only speculate how he, as an Armenian, might have reflected (through his camera lens) on one of the most recent newscasts that occurred this year.
April 24th of this 2021 year marks an important point in the Armenian history. Armenians in diaspora and in their Homeland have been extremely sensitive (and that’s an understatement) about one particular point in their history. It is about the “G”-word, yes.
Two Armenian women who live in different parts of Los Angeles shared about their thoughts on this year’s 106th anniversary. Both were deeply moved by the official recognition of the American government of the Armenian genocide.
Seran who grew up in Egypt now lives in Santa Monica and owns a small business. She had to work on the day of this anniversary and she was saddened by that fact, noting that had she lived in Glendale, CA, her Armenian neighbors would have vandalized her car and never spoke to her again for her working on such an important day of the year.
Another woman, who lives near Glendale, had to work on that day as well, but she is a half-Armenian and recognized that even though she isn’t fully integrated in the Armenian community in Los Angeles, she’s extremely emotional about the past of her people and was touched by President Biden’s official acknowledgement of the tragedy that had taken the lives of many Armenians in 1915.
She said that she agreed with a comment made by Joe Johns, a CNN’s reporter, in an online broadcast, that President Biden’s recognition was “re-establishing United States as a leader on the issue of the human rights around the world.”
With the American announcement on April 24th, the total number of the countries who have recognized the fact of genocide against the Armenian people is thirty one.
The loss of the estimated 1.5 million lives by the Armenian nation could be named or described in different ways but that will not change the meaning, the scope, and the depth of the act. Murder is murder.
The mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman’s Empire (Turkey) in an attempt to exterminate Armenians, who lived in Turkey in 1915, were systematic and started circa 1894. Other Christian nationalities along with Armenians were exterminated by the Young Turk government, in 1915.
Why? There’s no simple answer to this question. People who are willing to learn what exactly happened and what had lead to the Armenian national tragedy 106 years ago can find out for themselves.
Is it possible to forgive such an atrocity?
The truth stands — exterminating people of any nationality for any reason is unforgivable.
Is it possible to forget?
No likely. Even as Christians, Armenians, or other nations that experienced a similar loss in the past, may not be able to ever move on. The scar will always remind of what had happened.
Today, it is a personal journey for each a full-, or a half-Armenian in which each will reflect on the tragedy of the past. The national tragedies teach us lessons that we are obligated to share with the world in order to prevent such things happening again.