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November 15, 2016  16:53

Turkey constructed a wall of denialism – Forbes on Armenian Genocide themed “The Promise”

Author of the American Forbes magazine Stefan Ihrig has published an article on the Armenian Genocide themed movie “The Promise” and about the denial atmosphere surrounding it.

STEPANAKERT, NOVEMBER 15, ARTSAKHPRESS-ARMENPRESS: Ihrig titled the article “Genocide Denial Goes Viral: 'The Promise' And The IMDB”.

The author says speaking about the Armenian Genocide one becomes the target for Turkish nationalists and deniers.

“Writing this is dangerous: Speaking out on the Armenian Genocide means taking a huge risk. At the very least, it will be an exhausting experience, getting harassed online, trolled, threatened, down-rated on Amazon and publicly vilified. Until now, this was true mainly for individuals—academics, artists and activists, “he writes.  

Later in the article Ihrig discusses the recent Turkish protests over a concert in Germany:

Just in the last weeks, Turkey left the European Union’s cultural program in protest over a piece honoring the victims of the genocide by the Dresden Symphonic Orchestra which was sponsored by the program. Most recently, Turkey prevented a concert—again the very same piece—at the German Consulate in Istanbul. And now, we are in the middle of the next anti-Armenian campaign. This time its object is a Hollywood movie, The Promise, an epic focusing on the Armenian Genocide, starring amongst others Christian Bale. Yet, this time it might actually backfire and go another way.”

The article also presents the past efforts of Turkey of failing Armenian Genocide themed movies in Hollywood.

All this has a long tradition. Eighty years ago the Turkish government forced Hollywood to drop a movie project based on The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, then a best-selling novel on the Armenian Genocide by German-language author, Jew and outspoken Hitler opponent Franz Werfel. The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, originally written as a warning against Hitler through the prism of the Armenian Genocide, never saw the silver screen. Such a movie could have also raised awareness of the fate of the Jews in Nazi Germany at the time and later of the ongoing Holocaust. It could have shaped the “narrative” of the struggle against Hitler. Many have since been interested to finally turn the novel into a major production, most recently, for example, Mel Gibson and Sylvester Stallone, but Turkish opposition and obstruction seemed insurmountable”, the article reads.

The Turkish government has constructed a very solid and relatively successful wall of enforced silence, blocking attempts not only to acknowledge, but even to discuss the topic through various forms of intimidation. Even if methods of intervention have changed, Turkish denialism is not a thing of the past. It is less often direct intervention by the government or the embassy, but rather a general atmosphere of intimidation, fear and enforced silence”, Stefan Ihrig says.

Speaking about “The Promise”, Stefan Ihrig says the movie made it further than the past projects mainly because of independent financing. He says it is one of the most expensive independently financed movies so far.

The movie was screened in September at the Toronto International Film Festival to rather small-sized audiences. Like any movie of note, it has its IMDB entry ready where you can find all the information on the movie and where people can rate the film from one star to ten. And here this movie, for all intents and purposes is not yet available to the public, has become something of an online sensation, or rather an online battlefield. Over the last weeks it has attracted over 91,000 votes, largely split between ten- and one-star votes. The majority, over 57,000, are one-star votes. This is an obvious campaign to downrate the movie which then triggered pro-Armenian voting. We are witnessing yet another anti-Armenian denialist campaign playing out abroad, far away from Turkey, in open, democratic societies. While it is not clear who is orchestrating the campaign, it has to be assumed that, as with other campaigns, connections go back to the Turkish government and/or nationalist groups.

Armenian Genocide denialism has gone through various phases of development in the last decades. Denialism has entered the age of Twitter and online mob-rule. And, unfortunately, quite successfully so”, he wrote.

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