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Stapanian Hopes to Change Minds with Historical Novel on the Armenian Genocide

The Fell Cover-FB

By Mike Jeknavorian
FLArmenians Lifestyle Contributor

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – The novel is called They Fell, and the title is appropriate. Drawing on Charles Aznavour’s “Ils Sont Tombes,” the author uses graphic imagery to convey the historically based horrors and is stretched over 35 character-experiences in the midst of the Armenian Genocide.

Author Stephen Stapanian of Tampa, FL sets the story in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. As it’s read, one is reminded that a story can allow a direct communion with another era, and ultimately, with the era’s deceased.

In a response to questions submitted via email from FLArmenians.com, Mr. Stapanian says that the novel “represents a gift to the Armenian people globally, and to send a message to all of those who suffered . . . that they were not alone as victims of genocide.”

Stapanian says that he was originally inspired to write the novel after watching genocide-themed TV miniseries’ in the 1980s, such as Roots, Holocaust, and Shogun. Over time Stapanian worked on his approach and finally published They Fell on August 1, 2015.

The novel uses a love-story conceit, along with excerpts of song lyrics and poems, to draw the reading into the larger context of Ottoman Armenian life in 1915. It was written to evoke a strong emotional response about the genocide, and, fundamentally, to elicit change, he says.

But what change could he bring? The Armenian Genocide is officially recognized by over 20 nations, such as Canada, France, Russia, Germany, Austria, Argentina, the Vatican, and others. At the same time, the Ottoman Empire’s successor, Turkey, refuses to accept it’s own history and continues a decades-long campaign of genocide denial.

Historians mark the beginning of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 1915, when the Ottoman Turkish government rounded up over 200 Armenian academics, doctors, businessmen, and religious and community leaders in Constantinople.

The lack of accountability or prosecution of the perpetrators makes recollection of the genocide sting that much more, for many, as it does Stapanian.

Historians estimate that over one million Armenians were ethnically cleansed in a systematic campaign orchestrated by the Ottoman Turkish government in what is widely considered the first genocide in modern times.

The majority of published works about the Armenian Genocide have been memoir or historical, whereas They Fell is fiction based on a historical event.

But given that the novel is predicated on something as gruesome as genocide, should the public only expect to experience a limited amount of entertainment from it?

Hopefully, readers will truly connect with the characters, and in so doing learn something from those who fell and perished in one of man’s darkest chapters.

Armenian Assembly of America Welcomes Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ Call for U.S. Reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ (JCPA) annual Town Hall meeting last month, the JCPA adopted a resolution acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and called on Congress and the White House to recognize the Armenian Genocide. This is the first time that a policy position on the Armenian Genocide has been adopted by the JCPA.

“The Armenian Assembly of America thanks the JCPA for adopting this important resolution and for advancing efforts for U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide,” stated Assembly Board Co-Chairman Anthony Barsamian. “The Armenian American community is grateful to the JCPA for the adoption of this historic resolution. The unity of millions of Jewish and Armenian Americans in standing up for the truth is an important step along the path of justice,” Barsamian said.

JCPA logoAmong its findings, the JCPA resolution states, “We must not let the politics of the moment, or the U.S. government’s relationship with Turkey, sway our moral obligation to recognize the suffering of the Armenian people.” The resolution also calls upon “the Congress and the President to officially recognize what started in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, and resulted in the killing and deportation of approximately 1.5 million Armenians, as the Armenian Genocide.”

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), which operates under the JCPA, presented and passed the resolution at the JCPA annual Town Hall meeting. The national resolution was prompted by JCRC branches in Boston, Palm Beach, and Providence, with support from Atlanta and other chapters. The Atlanta JCRC adopted the draft resolution on the Armenian Genocide on August 18, 2015 during their local town hall meeting, which featured a presentation by Armenian Assembly State Chair for Georgia Dr. Vahan Kassabian.

“I am very pleased that the JCPA leadership and chapters across the country stand in support of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide,” stated Assembly Board Member Annie Totah. “This resolution reinforces the cause of genocide prevention and amplifies the voice of those who shout ‘Never Again,'” Totah said.

As the Assembly previously reported, the Jewish American community has rallied in support of Armenian Genocide recognition throughout the centennial year. However, the grassroots movement of Jewish American support is founded in years of work by the Armenian Assembly Board and State Chairs throughout the country. Many cite 2007 as the turning point in the Jewish American community’s support of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide when the JCRC of Greater Boston sparked the recognition process, which resulted in a tidal wave of support behind Boston Anti-Defamation League (ADL) director Andrew Tarsy who was fired for acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.

“We are proud that the Jewish Council for Public Affairs adopted this policy position on the Armenian Genocide, reflecting our deep solidarity with the Armenian American community,” Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston told the Assembly. “The ties between the Jewish and Armenian peoples are today stronger than ever, and will continue to strengthen,” Burton said.

In addition to its findings, the JCPA resolution on the Armenian Genocide calls upon the wider Jewish community relations field to consult and work with national Armenian organizations, major Jewish organizations, and interfaith coalition partners to further the aim of U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. JCPA calls on the President to recognize the Armenian Genocide, in addition to urging congressional representatives to support resolutions in Congress that call for recognition.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

Concert in Miami to Commemorate Armenian Genocide, Culture After 100 Years

Joe Zeytoonian(Combined Sources) – On Saturday, November 7, at 7:00 PM, the Hye Doun commemorative concert to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will take place in Miami Beach, Florida, reported FLArmenians.com. Hye Doun is a collaboration of Arts at St. Johns and Harmonic Motion. Through music, dance, song, and narrative, the World War I Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkish Empire will be illuminated.

Local South Florida Armenian Americans, musician Joe Zeytoonian and author/journalist Douglas Kalajian, will share their experiences of having family members who were killed or simply disappeared during this period when an estimated 800,000 to 1.5 million men, women, and children died.

douglas kalajianThe concert includes traditional Armenian folk and folk-inspired melodies and dance, with a cultural commentary provided by FLArmenians.com contributor Douglas Kalajian, author of “Stories My Father Never Finished Telling Me.”

“When musicians play these songs, they’re preserving this culture. It’s a gift not only to me, but to the whole world,” Kalajian told the Miami Herald.

According to the Herald, “Zeytoonian also was deeply impacted by the genocide; both sides of his family were devastated. His grandfather was killed when his grandmother was eight months pregnant with his father. He decided to convey the loss his family felt through his music.”

“Armenian music has a particular nostalgia in its sound. My sound is a combination of that and the Anatolian roots of my parents who were driven from their homes in Maras, Turkey,” Zeytoonian said.

Performers include Myriam Eli (percussion and dance), Alique Mazmanian (vocals), Reza Filsoofi (setar and percussion) and Joe Zeytoonian (oud, percussion, and vocals).

The Hye Doun concert is part of Arts at St. Johns 2015-2016 season theme “Places We Call Home.” Nearly 75% of the residents in Miami-Dade County have come from other places. With physical homes in South Florida, many are emotionally bound to other cities, states or countries. Because of socio-political circumstances, some homes exist only in heartfelt memory.

Armenian concert flyer

What: Hye Doun Armenian Genocide Commemorative Concert

When: Saturday, November 7, 7:00 PM

Where: Arts at St. Johns, 4760 Pine Tree Drive, Miami Beach, Florida 33140

Tickets: VIP Admission: $30 – General tickets: $20

$15 Seniors & Students with ID’s

Military and family are free with ID’s. Children under 10 are free.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CONCERT, please contact Carol Hoffman-Guzman at 305-613-2325 or artsatstjohns@bellsouth.net.

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