OBSERVATIONAL DOCUMENTARY ON GENOCIDE DENIAL SCREENED AT UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
By Yolanda Andrews
December 7, 2009
LONDON, England-A feature length observational documentary by Gagik
Karagheuzian on the denial of the Armenian Genocide titled "The Blue
Book" was the focus of discussion amongst fascinated film students,
human rights activists, and journalists at the Hitchcock Theatre at
Queen Mary College (University of London). "I have never seen anything
like it," said Dr. Atlana. "This is such a powerful documentary. It
really has opened my eyes to the denial of genocide today."
The story of Karagheuzian’s observational documentary film started
in 2005, when the Turkish Parliament sent a petition to British
parliamentarians, accusing the latter of fabricating the Armenian
Genocide thesis. The Turkish accusation maintained that there were
no creditable sources related to the Armenian Genocide, and that
the whole issue was fabricated by British propagandists in a 1916
British parliamentary Blue Book titled "The Treatment of Armenians
in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16."
"I heard about this thesis from Ara [Sarafian], who is a foremost
expert on the 1916 Blue Book," said Karagheuzian. "When he told me that
he was working with British parliamentarians to respond to the Turkish
petition, I asked to follow him to make an observational documentary."
The Blue Book issue grew into one of major proportions over the next
four years, as a group of British parliamentarians responded to the
Turkish petition and twice invited their Turkish colleagues to a
discussion. No Turkish parliamentarian accepted the invitation.
Throughout the film, Sarafian talks of the denial of the Armenian
Genocide. He explains the use of the term "denial" as "the deliberate
non-engagement with pertinent records related to a given subject
matter." In the case of the Blue Book, some of these pertinent records
are held in the British National Archives, where the original Blue
Book can still be found. (The Turkish parliamentarians insist that
no such records exist.) The documentary also identifies
the United States as the main source of information for the British
in 1915-16 on the genocide of the Armenians.
Lord Avebury figures prominently throughout the film, as he works with
Sarafian in addressing the Blue Book issue in a systematic manner. The
friendship between the two is also touching in what is otherwise a
harsh, fast-paced, and sometimes upsetting situation.
The central figure in the denial of the genocide is Sukru Elekdag,
a former Turkish ambassador to the United States, currently a member
of the Turkish Parliament, and a longstanding anti-Armenian activist.
According to Sarafian, Elekdag has led his fellow Turkish
parliamentarians and their advisers into an intellectual quagmire.
"Turkish parliamentarians are actually in an untenable position"
said Sarafian. "We are witnessing the end-game of an exemplary case
of genocide denial." This Turkish position will surely rank as one
of Elekdag’s greatest blunders.
To make the film, Karagheuzian followed Sarafian on lectures and field
trips, discussing the Blue Book in Istanbul, Ankara, and Harput. The
Istanbul discussions included an international conference, contacts
with Turkish academics and the press, as well as a Turkish television
talk show. The documentary ends with the Ankara launch of a Turkish
translation of the Blue Book. "We have returned the denial of the
Blue Book issue to where it belongs," said Sarafian. "The problem
with this work does not rest in London, but in Ankara."
In the question and answer session following the film, Karagheuzian
discussed the difficulties of making such an observational
documentary. Nevertheless, as the documentary shows, Karagheuzian
managed to capture key moments on film, making "The Blue Book"
a compelling, insightful and timely film.
For more information on "The Blue Book" film, email
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress