“ARCHITECTS OF DENIAL”— Listening to Silence


Listening to Silence

Amos Lassen

History is filled with brutal purges along ethnic, racial and religious lines (the Nazi “Final Solution” and latter-day genocides in Sudan, Rwanda, Cambodia and Guatemala). The least well known is the persecution and genocide of millions of Armenians since the early 1900s.  This documentary explores how the silence surrounding such tragedies and a lack of accountability could set the stage for more worldwide massacres in the future. We see a first person account of genocide through the eyes of survivors, and by way of interviews with Julian Assange, Sibel Edmonds (founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition), Genocide Watch founder Dr. Gregory Stanton, and Oscar-winning actor/director George Clooney, as well as experts who graphically illustrate the real connection between historical ‘denial’ with present day mass exterminations.  There are politicians who refuse, even today, to acknowledge the enormity of these mass crimes. The documentary provides the powerful and chilling message that genocide denied is genocide continued. If you don’t know about Armenian Genocide, this is a quick way to learn about it. If you know about it, and you know it happened, then this will just bring up some memories and if you know about it, but you think it had never happened, then you must watch this.

We are given here a collection of facts expressed by famous as well as ordinary people who witnessed or who heard the stories from witnesses. One cannot remain indifferent while watching this film and imagining what really happened, what can still happen.

Indeed there was an Armenian Genocide and it laid the groundwork for the Nazi holocaust, and now US politicians to cover it up and ignore it. Most of us have no idea about the extent of persistent hatred and persecution that Armenians had to deal with for the past 100 years. We see the despair on one side and anger on the other side as we share the grief of the unfortunate.

David Lee George’s documentary addresses the denial of Armenian Genocide through riveting narration, intense imagery, stories of survivors, and commentary from experts on the matter. It takes a long look at past aggressions and also discusses recent acts of genocide perpetrated against Armenians. After giving us the history of the Armenian Genocide from 1915 to the present as Armenians conflicts with Azerbaijan, the film ends with footage of US Senators refusing to comment on the Armenian genocide, fully illustrating the reach of genocide denial. The film brings together a diverse group of individuals to speak on the issue of genocide. Through multiple accounts of survival and struggle made by Armenian Genocide survivors, we become really aware of the emotional toll that this genocide has caused. There are interviews with a 108-year-old Armenian woman, a proud Armenian American, a prominent Armenian musician, and many more and they all share heartbreaking stories on family history and survival. Included with these personal accounts are commentary and insight from political officials. Another perspective on the controversy in the documentary is that of the academic community. Notable genocide scholars are interviewed and both emotional and logical perspectives of the documentary are easy to follow and allow for both members and nonmembers of the Armenian community to understand and connect to the subject matter. The film presents a refutation of claims made against the Armenian Genocide by commenting on statements made by the few scholars who deny the Armenian Genocide. These opposing viewpoints illustrate the diverse and wholesome representation of Armenian history portrayed in the documentary. In addition to honoring genocide history, the documentary shows the ease at which a genocide is denied and therefore continued. It was shocking to see how often genocide is denied by its perpetrators and disturbing to see the United States act as an unmoved bystander in the case of the Armenians. Several US officials were shown throughout the documentary avoiding inquiries on the Armenian Genocide. It is disappointing to see world leaders dismiss the Armenian Genocide because of relations with Turkey or some form of corruption. It is one thing to read about tragic events of the past but there is additional hurt to learn of Armenian persecution from just a few months ago. The film is bold, brave, and honest and addresses an issue that has the potential to start a war.

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