The world has been fighting for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide for years. At a time when some global politicians are once again stoking the flames of populist nationalism, as a direct descendent of survivors, my fight to Keep the Promise and never stay silent has made me a canary in this coal mine.
For the last seven years, thanks to the support and encouragement of my late friend and mentor Kirk Kerkorian, I have been inspired to tell our story of the Armenian Genocide. Our greatest challenge was how to make this film relevant to my fellow Americans. Now, with the effects of the rising nationalism — not just in this country but around the world as well — our story couldn’t be more timely as it awaits its release. The Promise is not just a tale of tragedy. It also demonstrates love, hope, the plight of refugees, and the kindness of brave individuals helping those in danger. It is inspired by the testimonies of those who survived the horrific Genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
In fact, the term “genocide” was created by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in 1944, in referencing the Armenian experience and the Holocaust. However, denialists and human rights abusers have created revisionist arguments to throw up a smokescreen and deny the application of the word to the very events that defined it. Let that sink in for a moment…or 102 years worth of moments. However, the narrative of the Armenian Genocide is not only about its 1.5 million victims or the hundreds of thousands of Greeks and Assyrians who were murdered. Just as important are the Genocide’s nearly half a million survivors, whose cautionary tales of targeted raids, suppressed rights, mass deportations, starvation, concentration and slave labor camps, and mass killings reverberated in places such as Germany, Bosnia, and Rwanda, and continue to echo today within the refugee camps of those now fleeing South Sudan, Myanmar, and Syria.