Arsine Khanjian: Turks in the Dark of Their Past

Canadian Armenian actress Arsine Khanjian, who was in Istanbul, Turkey participating in the international independent film festival !f, shared her impressions of the changes in Turkish and Armenian societies, and the Armenian diaspora.
 “An episodic story focused on the Armenian Genocide is presented in Turkey, with Turks getting entangled when it comes to confronting the fact. I now see that it is very difficult,” she said, speaking to the Turkish Armenian weekly Agos.
The actress, who was on her fifth visit to Turkey and third visit to Istanbul, said she availed herself the opportunity to meet face-to-face with ethnic Turks trying to gain a better understanding of the motives behind the Turkish society’s behavior. “And I came to see that the Turks do not know a lot from history. Blamed for their past throughout their lives, they, as a matter of fact, have no idea about that past,” she noted.
Speaking of Turkish Armenians, the actress said she sees that they do not seem to have very great expectations. “Those in the diaspora know that Armenians live in intimidation. The diaspora has lost touch with Armenians in Turkey. We have lost our heritage, our people, language and culture, but we can maintain and continue the dialogue with the people residing here,” she added.
Asked about her expectations from the genocide centennial commemoration, the actress replied, “The centennial events are for keeping history alive. So we’ll keep doing the same on the 101st anniversary. We have finally arrived at a point that makes our dialogue with the Turkish society possible. As early as fifty years ago, nobody would talk about the Genocide. But it isn’t so now. That is why I find the events important.”
As for the films dedicated to the genocide topic, Khanjian said she doesn’t think that it is possible at all to satisfy an Armenian audience’s expectations from such a serious topic as that. “They observed such a long silence over the genocide that they are now at a point where the Armenian spectator does not know what he or she wishes to see in the movie. They want the film to tell them about everything. The Holocaust stories evolved after [the Second World] War, so the Jews did not need such a film. But the things were not arranged the same way for the Armenians. We weren’t able to address all the aspects of the genocide, and now, gathering the stories in one place, we expect to have a movie about the genocide. It isn’t feasible,” she noted.

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