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‘Bloodless’ Wins Golden Palm Award and Best Feature Documentary at the 21st Beverly Hills Film Festival

Bared Maronian’s Bloodless Was Selected Amongst 150 Officially Selected Films of the Year

COCONUT CREEK, FL – ‘Bloodless: The Path to Democracy‘ documentary feature film snatched two of the top awards at the prestigious 21st Beverly Hills Film Festival–The Golden Palm Award and Best Feature Documentary award–during the May 2nd Awards Ceremony, held virtually due to the pandemic. The Feature Documentary film, Bloodless, by four-time regional Emmy award- winning documentary filmmaker, Bared Maronian, captures the non-violent civil disobedience protests and social media campaigns during Armenia’s 2018 velvet revolution when opposition leader, Nikol Pashinyan overthrew the decades-long, corrupt oligarchy power. The documentary, written by Bared Maronian and Silva Basmajian, and produced by Seda Grigoryan, Silva Basmajian, Bardig Kouyoumdjian and Bared Maronian.

“We are humbled that the jury, comprising Oscar winning industry professionals and industry leaders, extended high praise and selected Bloodless as the recipient of the Festival’s top awards out of the 150 films,” said filmmaker Bared Maronian, founder of Armenoid Productions, receiving news of the wins at Beverly Hills Film Festival.

The Best Feature Documentary Award to Bloodless was presented midway through the virtual awards ceremony by a panel of six film industry professionals. The Golden Palm Award–the annual Festival’s most prestigious award–was presented to Bloodless by Nino Simone, Founder and President of the Beverly Hills Film Festival. The 21st annual event, held virtually April 28 through May 2 due to the pandemic, live-streamed 150 non-studio films as part of its official global selections during the virtual Festival.  The annual live event usually draws over 40,000 attendees.

Why Donald Trump Should Recognize the Armenian Genocide

By Areg Galstyantransition2017-turkey
The American Thinker

Last month, a report on how Donald Trump’s administration should build a political dialogue with Turkey was published at the website of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The authors of this work are James F. Jeffrey, the former U.S. ambassador to Turkey during the presidency of George W. Bush (2008-2010), and Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute. Recommendations of the authors cover a wide range of geopolitical issues that the United States and Turkey should solve by joining their efforts.

It is noteworthy that Mr. Jeffrey and Mr. Cagaptay mark the necessity for Trump’s administration to guarantee non-recognition of the Armenian Genocide as an important condition for restoration of trust between the U.S. and Turkey. In particular, the authors write: “Separately, the United States can quietly guarantee Turkey that the Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress will not pass. This has always been critical in the relationship and most Turks care deeply about the issue.” There is no doubt that the authors aim not only to influence on the development of the foreign policy of the new administration for Turkey, but also to remind that the Armenian question can have a negative impact on bilateral relations.

Certainly, the representatives of the pro-Turkish lobby groups can develop their own recommendations for the foreign relations between Washington and Ankara. This is a normal practice of lobbying. However, the authors, speaking about the need to block the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, make a number of serious mistakes. First, this question is an internal affair of the United States. We must not forget that the requirement to recognize the historical events of 1915-1923 in the Ottoman Empire comes from the millions of citizens of America and is purely humanitarian. American Armenians do not require official Washington to take any steps against Turkey.

On the other hand, the representatives of U.S.-Armenian relations have always stressed that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States and Turkey will be a good signal and will allow the establishment of Armenian-Turkish dialogue in the future. Unfortunately, the Turkish authorities turned the Armenian issue into an instrument of political blackmail and intimidation.

Secondly, it is an incorrect recommendation to the U.S. president to influence Congress to prevent the passage of the resolution on the Genocide. This is not just interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, but also a call for the executive power to put pressure on the legislators, which cannot but arouse the indignation of American citizens.

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Concerning the Armenian issue, I would like to give an alternative view to the next administration. During the Cold War, Turkey was considered one of the most important strategic allies in the bilateral format and in the framework of NATO. On the basis of pragmatic considerations, the White House and the leaders of both parties in Congress believed that an open discussion of the Armenian issue could cause a negative reaction from Turkey. The situation changed in 1974, when Turkey sent troops to the territory of Cyprus. In response to this act of aggression, Congress declared an arms embargo on Turkey. A series of further events led to a serious cooling of U.S.-Turkish relations. Then Washington did not prevent the adoption of Resolution No. 148 on the “Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Inhuman Crimes.” According to the adopted resolution, the 24th of April was officially proclaimed the day of remembrance of victims of the Armenian Genocide. Thus, the United States at that time became the only country in the world whose president officially addressed to the Armenian people on every 24th of April.

In 1978, the U.S. president, Jimmy Carter, used the term “genocide” for the first time in his statement to describe the events of 1915-1923 in the Ottoman Empire. Carter noted that, while preparing for the meeting with the Armenian community, he spent a lot of time in Roosevelt’s room and carefully studied the documents related to the Armenians’ history. The president said he was impressed by the force of will and talent of Armenian people and that as the U.S. citizens, Armenians made an enormous contribution to the development of the country. Carter said that not many people knew that a few years prior to 1915, a deliberate effort was taken to destroy the Armenian people. At the end of his speech, he stated that the Armenian Genocide was one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell any group of people, and no trial similar to Nuremberg was conducted over the criminals.

In the very first year of his presidency, Ronald Reagan demonstrated support for the Armenian-American community in the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In his proclamation No. 4838 on April 22 in 1981, Reagan remarked that the United States was aware of the fact and understood that the criminal government that had committed inhuman acts of genocide had to acknowledge its past and repent for it. Reagan said there was an eternal debt of all mankind toward those who had experienced these horrors. He urged the international community to remember that the lessons of the Holocaust, as well as of the Armenian Genocide, the ensuing genocide of the Cambodians, and numerous persecutions against other nations, could never be forgotten.

On the 11th of April in 1985, the Republican majority leader – Senator Robert Dole – introduced Resolution No. 247 on the “Day of Memory of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire” to Congress. The hearing in the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives was successful, and Speaker Tip O’Neill put the resolution on a general vote. Turkey threatened that in case of adoption, it would refuse to buy eleven U.S. Boeing aircraft for the benefit of aircraft of the European consortium Airbus Industries. Moreover, Turkey claimed that it would cease to prolong the Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement.

President Reagan assured Turkey’s Prime Minister Ozal that the administration was committed to maintaining a high level of appropriations for Turkey. The U.S. president was referring to the majority in Congress held by Democrats, whom he could not influence. Regardless of quite logical explanations given by the White House, the Turkish side did not conceal its irritation. Ankara stated again that it would prepare for the revision of the U.S.-Turkish agreement on military and economic cooperation. America, which at that time was going through a period of difficult relations with Greece, was close to losing access to its military bases in Turkey. It was for that reason that the U.S.’s Secretary of State Schulz arrived to the negotiations on the extension of the agreement in Ankara.

Trying to prevent the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the pro-Turkish lobbies were interfering in the electoral process. Thus, Ankara and its lobbyists campaigned against Mike Dukakis – an ethnic Greek who was the candidate of the Democratic Party in the presidential elections of 1988. They also opposed George Deukmejian, an ethnic Armenian and the governor of California, who was considered by George Bush, Sr. for the post of the U.S. vice president. During their election campaigns, presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama talked about the need to tell the truth about the Armenian Genocide at the highest level. However, being in the Oval Office, they broke their promises for fear of spoiling relations with Turkey. These examples from history show that the Turkish authorities and the pro-Turkish lobbyists have always used intimidation tactics when it comes to the Armenian issue. Donald Trump poses himself as a leader who will protect the interests of America and Americans. In this case, the new president and his administration should not allow Turkey to interfere in the internal affairs of the United States.

Moreover, Turkey’s statements that adoption of a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide may harm relations with the U.S. are greatly exaggerated. Nowadays, the laws on the Armenian Genocide have been adopted in more than twenty countries around the world, including Russia, France, and Germany. Did Russia’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide have an impact on its bilateral relations with Turkey? No. Official Ankara has traditionally protested and threatened with deterioration in relations. However, in reality, we are witnessing active development of Russian-Turkish ties in the political, economic, trade, tourism, and energy sectors. There was a similar scenario regarding Turkish-French relations after Paris officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. By the way, France and Germany, being Turkey’s NATO allies, take their own domestic political decisions without fear of Ankara’s threats.

In this regard, the new administration should clearly express its position on the Armenian issue and should not be afraid of threats from Turkey and its lobbyists. Anyway, President Trump has two ways to solve this issue. He can continue the policy of denying the Armenian Genocide (as Bush and Obama did), or he can choose a different path and become the president who had enough courage to restore historical justice. I hope Trump will choose the path of Ronald Reagan instead of the one of Barack Obama.

This article originally appeared in The American Thinker.

Areg Galstyan, Ph.D., is a regular contributor to The National Interest, Forbes, and The Hill and the head of the “American Studies” Research Centre. You can follow him on Twitter @Galstran_Areg.

Are We on the Right Side of History?

A gay activist waves a gay pride American flag outside the Supreme Court on March 26 | Reuters

A gay activist waves a gay pride American flag outside the Supreme Court on March 26 | Reuters

By Michael Toumayan
FLArmenians Guest Contributor 

In a landmark ruling for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights, the Supreme Court of the United States on Wednesday struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law signed by then President Bill Clinton blocking federal recognition of same-sex marriages. In a separate case, the court ruled that it could not take up a challenge to Proposition 8, the California law that banned same-sex marriage in that state. That decision means that marriage equality will once again be legal in California.

This is a watershed moment in the fight for equality with the Supreme Court delivering justice to millions of Americans and to the thousands of LGBT Armenian-Americans who have been denied their rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Yet it is increasingly clear that we now have two Americas – one where our relationships are recognized and we are protected from discrimination in 13 States and the District of Columbia, and another that has yet to feel the effects of our progress and LGBT people remain second-class citizens, including in the State of Florida.

Sadly, we find many LGBT Armenian-Americans living under this same pretext for far too long – in an America that celebrates and protects who we are as Armenians and the other in our community centers and churches that marginalize and stigmatize LGBT Armenians for whom they love. No one should choose between who they are and whom they love.

I recognize that there are deeply held views on this issue and deeply fierce opposition by the Armenian Church hierarchy. But we cannot pretend to be a nation seeking restorative justice and recognition of our painful history and add the word “but” if we are truly genuine in our collective quest for justice for all.

This is a debate about equal rights under the law. It is about freedom from discrimination and stigmatization the way we were once discriminated and stigmatized as Christians in the Ottoman Empire. It is about the legal protections and responsibilities, and more than 1,100 rights, obligations and benefits afforded by the legal institution of marriage that, prior to the DOMA ruling, were denied to same-sex Armenian American couples. It is also about real people: your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and neighbors. And finally, it is about witnessing and reflecting the love and commitment between two people.

Given our 1,700 years of Christian heritage, I’d like to sum up the whole law in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Galatians 5:15.

For if truly we, as the Armenian nation, are on a quest to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice for all, then surely we must stand on the right side of history by resisting all forms of bigotry and dedicating ourselves to the advancement of social justice and human dignity of both the living and the deceased.

And if truly we belong to the body of our Lord Jesus Christ through the One, Holy, Catholic (Universal) and Apostolic Church, then surely we are commanded to love, treat with respect and defend our LGBT Armenian sisters and brothers and any other marginalized groups both in the U.S. and in our beloved Hairenik (fatherland), no matter what your Biblical conviction is on homosexuality. This we know as absolute: Christ’s ministry was inclusive and he said that if we commit hate in our hearts we have committed murder – thus, we should take discrimination, hate-talk and the bullying of any marginalized group very seriously. If our tragic history hasn’t taught us anything, then I do not know what will. To learn more specifics on how the Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 might affect you, please visit www.hrc.org/SCOTUS.

Michael Toumayan is a program assistant at the Human Rights Campaign and an independent political commentator on the Caucasus and Middle East. 
A graduate of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, he holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution and mediation from Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel. He can be reached at michael.toumayan@hrc.org.