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Books out of Print


Retired Ambassador Ömer Engin LÜTEM*
Art and Armenian Propaganda: Ararat as a Case Study


The book deals with the analysis of the film named “Ararat” from several different angles. Because the aim of the film is to slander the Turks and because it is a part of the (maybe the most important part) long lasting Armenian propaganda on Turks and Turkey special emphasis has to be shown.

Usually propaganda films that aim to ‘blacken’ a nation or a state are made before or during war, or during a period where ideologies clash. However because there is nothing of the sort between Turkey and Armenia some might find it difficult to understand this situation. In reality this situation is not about something that happened in the past or about the current Armenian - Turkish relations. The problem is based on the natural assimilation of the Armenians that had to move to other countries and the reaction of some circles that try to prevent this from happening.

People that move to other countries, in other words start to live in different cultural surroundings and especially their children start to experience a slow but a continuous assimilation process. The people that form the populace of countries such as America, Canada and Australia are people that come from different nations and back rounds however through the assimilation process they have accepted the culture of the first emigrants and formed these countries.

The rules of assimilation have affected the Armenians as they have affected many others. However some Armenian organizations, because assimilation process threatens their being, have been against it. Furthermore by using the Diaspora with all their power tried to protect the Armenian national identity. The Armenian Churches that are in the Diaspora countries are the leading figures of these organizations. The Churches that have a national quality than a universal one can not exist without an Armenian community. Political parties such as Tashnak, H?ncak and Ramgavar that have great influence on the Diaspora cannot continue to exist in foreign countries without the Armenian national identity. The same rule applies for the Armenian cultural associations and charities.

Because the efforts that the Armenian churches, parties and associations show in order to preserve the Armenian identity and cultures in different countries, often clash with the efforts that those people show to integrate to that country, has not been successful enough. This has caused them to search for a sentimental issue that help them preserve their national identity during the Il. World War. During that time the Jewish genocide was fully out in the open and drew great public attention. Through this inspiration the relocations of 1915 was renamed after forty years and started to be called genocide. As a result of the positive reaction they received from the Diaspora Armenians, the official recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide came up in the agenda. Furthermore the intense activities for this to happen caused the Armenian nationalism and chauvinism to take rise. This chauvinism caused the killing of thirty-four Turkish diplomats that neither had anything with the 1915 relocation nor was born at that time.

The murderers of these diplomats belong to the third generation after the relocation, in other words they were people that were not harmed by Turkey or the Turkish people. The only explanation that can be given is that these people were traumatized with the hate that was thought to them by their church, political parties or organizations. This shows that the above mentioned organizations are as guilty as the murderers that they brainwashed.

Armenian terrorism stopped in 1986 when began to harm foreigners as well, and the leading states declared that they would not tolerate these attacks on their citizens. From that day onwards they tried to get their claims accepted through two closely related courses of actions. The first was to get some countries parliaments and internati¬onal organizations to accept that the 1915 relocation was actually an Armenian geno¬cide. The second is to organize activities towards influencing those countries public opinion.

One of the activities that is used to influence the public opinion is that the 1915 relocation is actually a genocide are articles and books that appear to be academic works. Conferences, panel discussions and similar meetings support these activities. It can be observed that Armenians as well as non-Armenians show activities in these circles. Even some Turks have joined them. Furthermore many novels, poetry and plays have been written on the subject. Finally many exhibitions are organized on the Armenian genocide. Nany documentary films and films are made in the motion-picture industry.

It is been seen that since the 1990s the activities in order to help recognize the so-called genocide in some countries parliamentary have taken speed. It is quite obvious that these activities are very expensive. Especially thinking that they are ordered resul¬ted in the creation of an industry on Armenian genocide. The last and most significant product of this industry is the film called “Ararat” by Atom Egoyan.

As know the word “Ararat” means mount A?r?. Mount A?r? is also represented in the Armenian Flag. To depict a piece of another country on your flag symbolically means to have a claim on that countries’ land. However the chauvinistic position that the Armenians are in makes them over look the dangers and trouble of such a claim would cause.

Although the film of Egoyan has used the name Ararat, the film does not take place near the Mount Ararat or it’s surrounding. It is obvious that such a name was given to the film to draw attention as a result customers. The film is about the 1915 revolt and the atrocities that were done to the Armenians by the Turks. Interestingly, it was the Armenians that were successful in the revolt and it was the Turk that had to face the atrocities that reach the level of brutality. This is proved by documents. However Egoyan by reversing the truth and making a film full of imaginary seen has tried to draw hate towards the Turks.

Egoyan has claimed that his film is based on Clarence Ussher’s book, which was written by an American missionary in Van at the time. After it was obvious that the Turkish army would reclaim the city from the Russian army the left the city with the Russians and returning to America in 1917 wrote book named “An American Physician in Turkey” Ussher’s book is totally partisan of the Armenians. This quite understandable because the main reason for American missionaries being in Van was to educate and help the Armenians to join their religious sect. However the brutal scenes of the film do not take place in Ussher’s book. These scenes are made up by Egoyan whom also wrote the scenario. Only this can show that the film is mere propaganda.

How can the public react to this film? Egoyan is a well-known director. Because he uses a complicated and a difficult language to understand his films did not have many audience. It is quite possible that a film full of flashbacks would tire the audience. However it obvious that a film that is about the so-called Armenian genocide, full of brutal scenes would attract the attention of many Armenians. Besides the reaction that the Turks will show will increase the number audience. As a result it is quite possible that “Ararat” will be the one with the most audience among Egoyan’s films. Besides it would not be a surprise if some young Armenians being effected by the will restart terrorist activities against Turks. As a result Egoyan will be held responsible of this inspiring situation.

How will this film effect the relations between Armenia and Turkey? Due to the occupation of Azerbaijan lands, including Karabagh and the heartbreaking conditions of 1 million Azerbaijani immigrants plus Armenia under the rule of Koçaryan accepting the so-called Armenian genocide, although there was some contact between the two countries, a diplomatic relation has not been established and the borders are not open. However the NGO’s of both the countries have increased their contact. It is only natural that a film like Ararat that provokes hatred will affect all types of contact between the countries. As it can be seen in the Turkish-Armenian Peace Commission there are influential circles that are against any type of contact although it is not official. It is a possibility that the mission of the film is to serve these circles.

The authors of this book “Ararat Artistic Armenian Propaganda” are Assistant Prof. Sedat LAÇ?NER and Mr. ?enol KANTARCI.

Sedat LAÇ?NER in his article titled “Art as a Tool of Armenian Propaganda: The Film Ararat” gives information on Armenian propaganda as well as the Armenian motion picture industry. Contrary to the general impression there are many anti-Turkish Armenian films, this shows that the Armenian film industry takes the large piece of the Armenian genocide industries pie. The film Ararat with its estimated fifty million dollar budget, hold the record of this genre. Assist. Prof. Dr, Laçiner in the second chapter of his study states that Egoyan discovered Armenian roots with the help of his wife and his films become more and more Armenian as a result. In the third chapter of his article, Sedat Laçiner analyses if the film is a propaganda or art and by analyzing the messages that are given and symbols that are used shows that the film is mere propaganda. The article ends with the reactions that were shown in Turkey towards the film and a general evaluation. In the appendixes detailed information and photographs can be found on Ararat and other films by Egoyan and by other Armenian directors.

?enol Kantarc?, in the first chapter of his article, titled “The Study of the Historical Aspects in the Film Ararat” in order to provide a base while studying the historical aspect of the film, describes the USA’s incline towards the East in the 19th century, its missionary activities in Anatolia, explains in details the incidents of 1896 and especially 1915 Van revolt that is the subject matter of the film Ararat. In the second part the scenario is compared to Ussher’s book and to the works of other missionaries. By doing so shows that the film has violent scenes that do not take place in the book and obviously is the work of Egoyan’s imagination. Kantarc? in his article includes the Cevdet Bey’s history, the major of the city at the time, and a detailed chronology of the Armenian incidents in Van as well as some photos that belongs to that time.

As a result this book is probably the largest work written on the Ararat film up to now. The book puts out the propaganda qualities of the film in a scientific way. I would like to thank Assist. Prof. Sedat Laçiner and Mr. ?enol Kantarc?, because they have prepared such a valuable work on such short notice.

(Ret.) Ambassador
Ömer Engin LÜTEM

* Director of AVIM -
- Art and Armenian Propaganda: Ararat as a Case Study
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ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

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