We were honored to have Dr. Richard Hovannisian join us at our seminar on Armenian Genocide and International Justice this week.
There have been numerous calamities in the world," began Dr. Hovannisian. "Why Remember the Armenian genocide?"
Each time I hear him speak, different elements of this history strike me, and this week it was gender differences - how the impact of this genocide was different for men/boys and women/girls. Dr. Hovannisian described the situation of Armenian women who had survived the genocide because they were kept by Turks as concubines. After the war, having given birth to the child of a genocide perpetrator, they were faced with an excruciating decision:
- Do I abandon my baby and hope I can put my life together, hope I can reunite with my community, hope some members of my family remain, and hope I will meet a man who will be understanding enough to accept me despite having been raped and already having born a child?
- OR, do I abandon my people, stay with my child, and become a member of this society which perpetrated a genocide, perhaps not even telling my child about his/her past?
Most Armenian women wanted to leave and be reunited with their family and culture, but they knew their families would not accept children of the genocide. How do you make a decision like this?
Similar to what I described of the struggle for identity in Poland today, there are writers in Turkey describing a sudden discovery that they have Armenian roots. "A new identity crisis," is how Dr. Hovannisian described it.
Here is what several of our participants had to say in response to Dr. Hovannisian's question, "Why remember the Armenian genocide?"
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[video width="1280" height="720" mp4="http://lanetwork.facinghistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/2014-06-25-17.43.48.mp4"][/video]