‘Turkish people know that they are being lied to, but they don’t know where to find the truth’: Serge Avedikian

Aravot Daily asked French-Armenian actor and director Serge Avedikian about how his documentary film Return to Soloz is about identity, historical accuracy, and forgiveness, and considering Turkey’s rhetoric against Armenia today, does his imagined forgiveness fit in this context?

Serge Avedikian said that he does not want to compare the Turkish government to Turkish people. “The government knows how I feel about them because I went and filmed Return to Soloz without asking for permission. I also filmed Anatolian Story without permission, which means that we are not working with the government or states. We are opposed to the states when we say that they are making huge mistakes and that democracy does not exist there.”

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Serge Avedikian

The director remembered, “Osman Kavala is in jail. Osman Kavala did not do anything. He is in jail due to the fact that he is doing what Erdogan does not want to do. But it is impossible for me to treat the Turkish people the same way I treat Erdogan because the people remain people. Perhaps Turkish people do not know where the truth is, but they know that they are being lied to. But they don’t know where to find the truth. My task is to gift them with the truth. That is where the issue of forgiveness comes in. In French, that word has a slightly different meaning. I mean that we need to learn how to digest that hatred and barbarism that existed once upon a time. The Young Turks once did what Erdogan is doing now. But we should not give the people the same name as we give the government. This is not forgiveness, but it is a more psychological issue: how to live next to the country that is your enemy. Perhaps it would be possible to live with their people if you give them the opportunity to learn the truth. When I have spoken in different places in Turkey, there were times when people angrily left when I used the word ‘genocide.’ They tell me that I do not have the right to use the word ‘genocide.’ I ask them why not. I explain to them what genocide means, and how Lemkin used that word the first time when he studied the Jewish Holocaust. He studied the Armenian Genocide to understand what the Nazis were doing to the Jews. The Turks need to be reminded of this.”

Gohar Hakobyan

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