Keep the promise

Constantinople
A short story about the reason Armenians lived in Ottoman Empire

It has been almost one week since Armenian Genocide remembrance day and attention to it has begun to wane. But here is one more post about it.

The movie “The Promise” was released this year and it’s an American historical drama about love triangle during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, and during the mass murder of the Armenian minority planned and executed by the Ottoman government.

Before watching it I checked the rating on IMDb and it’s funny and sad.

Once I did watch it, I didn’t want to change my vote as it’s what I think about the movie. Although, I must confess that I’m easily amused by movies so my votes are not objective sometimes (:

“The Promise” answered some inner questions I had in my mind. Two years ago when I was writing my blog post about the Armenian genocide (which I still need to translate =\), I didn’t mention the question that bothered me:

Why the hell were there so many Christian Armenians in the aggressively behaving Muslim Empire, and in particular, in Istanbul?

Even though the answer was somewhere on the surface, the movie demonstrated it in a way that no questions remained.

Now let’s return to the current date and remember any Hollywood blockbuster movie. They usually show some city where business ensues, where the nightlife is taking place, where life is running at full speed. What just came to your mind? New York? London? Maybe Dubai or even Moscow? (Not LA for sure haha)

That is what Constantinople was back in the days. Damn people, its very name conjures visions of wealth and splendor. The ancient city, the transcontinental center of Eurasia, the capital of numerous empires for more than 15 centuries. It took a long time to establish this imperial city.

The magnificence of Constantinople is reflected in the movie “The Promise”. It’s so lovely to observe.

Back to nowadays: where can you find the majority of Armenian Diaspora today? That is right, we are mostly concentrated in the wealthiest places around the globe: California, NY, Moscow, Paris and so on.

That is why our ancestors were in Constantinople and other parts of the Ottoman Empire.1 They successfully managed numerous businesses, they studied in the best universities, they brought attention to Armenian culture (like Komitas did), et cetera.2

Now, imagine something happens in the USA (hello Trump) and people start an ‪extermination‬ of Armenians across LA and in particular in Glendale (the largest Armenian community in the US). With the “intent to destroy”, if we speak in genocide terms.

That’s what happened since April 24th of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire and you can see it in the movie. 3

Can you imagine it nowadays? You can’t, right? Should I help you and remind you about Rwandan genocide? An estimated more than 800,000 Rwandans were killed during the 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994. It was just 23 years ago.
Or, let’s take a look at the recent conflict in Syria. I know, it’s not a genocide, but doesn’t 4,000,000 refugees shock you? It’s 2017 on the street.

We live in a wonderful world, we achieved so many things, but I am terrified of everything happening in the Middle East and some other places. I am terrified that we keep going down the same road of dictatorship, oppression and conflicts.

The end of Ottoman Empire as a powerful region happened as a cataclysmic fiasco and you should watch it in the movie “The Promise”. 4

I encourage everyone to just in 2 hours learn the tragical history that happened with many Armenians including my grandfather and his parents.

History is not a mystery, please #keepthepromise to learn from it.


Notes

  1. Besides that, the historical homeland of many Armenians was Western Armenian. It refers to eastern parts of the Ottoman Empire which were conquered by the Ottomans in the 16th century during the Ottoman-Safavid War.
  2. Not everyone though. In Ottoman Empire, around 70% of Armenians were poor and only 30% were above average or rich.
  3. Technically, it started before April 24th, but that day Ottoman authorities arrested and deported up to 270 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders from Constantinople, the majority of whom were eventually murdered.
  4. War wasn’t the only reason of it and Islamic world gradually declined since 14th century until 19th when the European economy started to dominate. Although Turkey has always had an ambition of European domination rather than Middle Eastern.

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