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January 19, 2007


When I read the news of Dink's death earlier, I was overwhelmed by the searing memory of a film "Ararat" by Atom Egoyan, based on the genocide. And I recall the bittersweet journey of Isabel Bayrakdarian to her home country of Armenia, filmed by CBC. Have you seen these, Beth? Genocide still continues today and continues to baffle and depress me how it can possibly go on without the rest of the world not stopping it. Not acknowledging it at all is the worst sin, and I'm sorry that you have been personally touched by the people who have suffered it in their families. Thanks for bringing this ghastly issue forth, reminding us again how imperfect the world is, and how blind we can be in our own comfortable places in it.

I was shocked many years ago when one of my students wrote about this event that seeems to have been overlooked in any history book I've ever read.

Dark times, indeed.

Thanks for this comment, Marja-Leena. I didn't know about the film of Isabel Bayrakdarian's journey but will look for it in the CBC archives. And I half-want to see "Ararat" but have avoided it; I have to be very careful about how much realistic violence I take in, especially visually - it just haunts me for days, and I was worried this film, which I know is very good, would just be too much for both me and my husband. What do you think? I've enjoyed some of his other, happier films a lot.

Beth, the violence in Ararat is disturbing but no more than many films. However the personal nature may make it doubly so for you. Perhaps you could fast-forward these scenes?
The Isabel Bayrakdarian one is haunting and beautiful, one that moved me to tears, but without the horror as that part was not shown graphically, as I recall. The Armenian music is just wonderful and she highlights that most of all in the film. I've blogged about both films, if you care to read them, just do a search for them. Let me know what you think of the film(s).

Thank you for commenting and for caring, Loren. It is shocking, how history books treat this event - but of course it's not the only example. What did our American history texts really tell us about the Native Americans - and there are so many others, and will be more.

My grandmother (on my father's side) was Armenian and lost a number of relatives in that genocide, though she herself was already living in Transylvania and was safe, in a manner of speaking. Little did she count on having to lose more relatives, on her husband's side (as well as having to hide her only child, my father) some 40 years later in another genocide....

Beth, maybe you could write to the online BBC and quote exactly what you've written here. It needs saying.
I saw the Isabel B. film. It was brilliant.

Maria, thanks for telling me about this piece of your own family's history. And how awful that your grandmother's life contained two genocides. What was she like? Did she manage to maintain any faith in humanity?

Natalie - thanks for the suggestion - I just may do that.

We wer talking about this at the supper table tonight. My dad pointed out that fifty years later, most Americans remain convinced that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was necessary to end the war, and it's still more or less heresy to suggest otherwise. To say nothing of other acts of mass murder that go virtually unmentioned in the history textbooks. It's a rare nation that has made the effort to come to terms with its past the way West Germany or South Africa have.

This is all just shattering. The human rights community in Istanbul is in shock, and grieving. Dink was a colleague and an inspiration to so many there, here, and beyond. There's more to say about these matters of memory and history, about Egoyan's Ararat--bootlegs of which are sold openly on the streets in Istanbul, incidentally, despite the force of denialism--but I'll save them for later, and tonight mourn the loss.


I had come across the story and posted it on my blog. I was not aware of the circumstances surrounding the Armenian genocide until I investigated the story. I have pledged to use my blog to call fire and judgment on those who violate human rights, and I urge others to do the same - especially with genocides no one knows about.

Dave - I agree, and I don't see this attitude of national self-analysis, let alone remorse, happening in the U.S. anytime soon.

Elizabeth - I'm so sorry for those of you who love Istanbul and have worked for human rights there. I hope you'll write more about it on your blog as well, when the grief is not quite so sharp.

Dale - thanks

Weiwen - Thank you very much for commenting at my blog - and I'm happy to find out about yours. I agree - we have some power to communicate things here that are not widely known, and in a personal way, and it's our responsibility to do that. I hope you'll continue reading here and commenting here.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.