In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide this past Friday, Pasadena City College’s own Armenian Student Association, showcased the documentary, “Screamers” on campus last Wednesday night.
“Screamers” mainly focuses on the injustice of the Armenian Genocide not being officially recognized as a “genocide,” but also advocates speaking out or screaming against genocides, holocausts, and other atrocities. The documentary also features the popular Armenian band System of a Down who are dedicated to spreading awareness of the Armenian Genocide and advocate to have the genocide recognized.
“It was real eye-opening, you hear about these attacks or genocides through the news and social media, but you don’t think much of it,” said Jedd Johnston, a PCC student said about the documentary. “When you actually sit down and watch a movie dedicated to it, it makes you think.”
The night began with anthropology professor Alexis Altounian briefly lecturing on both the history of her own personal Armenian family and background on the Armenian Genocide.
“The word broken down, genocide, literally means genos, greek for family, and cide for killing,” said Altounian. “Genocide as a term was constructed in 1944 and it was only constructed because of the atrocities committed against the Eastern European population that was the target of the SS and the Nazi movement, and also the Armenians, as well as the Greeks and Syrians who were nearly annihilated in 1915.”
Altounian explained that when the “Young Turks” took over the country, their mission was to “Turkify” it. According to Altounian, about 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives in the Armenian Genocide.
Interestingly enough, both Altounian and the documentary believe that the Armenian Genocide heavily influenced Adolf Hitler. Both System of a Down and Altounian quoted Hitler.
“After all, who remembers today the extermination of the Armenians,” Hitler said in August of 1939.
The lack of strong responses from the world after the Armenian Genocide may have perhaps spurred Hitler on and the genocide itself may have inspired him. As the Turks wanted to “Turkify” the country, Hitler wanted only pure Aryans.
The lack of acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide gives power to only those that commit these atrocities. Countries that do not acknowledge the Armenian Genocide include Turkey, where it occurred, the United Kingdom, and our very own United States.
The documentary suggests that the reasons for liberal countries like the United Kingdom and the United States not recognizing the Armenian Genocide are largely political. Turkey is an important ally that allows both strategic advantages in the Middle East.
“There is no solid evidence that I have seen in 20 some years that the Ottoman Turks intended to destroy all Armenians,” said Dan Burton, a former Republican congressman from Indiana.
As such, getting the Armenian Genocide recognized is an arduous road filled with hurdles and red tape that only a large collection of voices may be able to break through.
“If people, at the time, during the Armenian holocaust raised an eye and looked and said, ‘It’s happening, lets help these freaking people that don’t deserve what’s happening to them.’ Maybe the Jews wouldn’t have had their holocaust… And maybe other holocausts wouldn’t of happened,” said Shavarsh Odadjian, the bassist of System of a Down, in the documentary. “Who, after all, remembers the Armenians? I do.”
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