Joined: 25 Oct 2003
| Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2004 12:26 am Post subject: [E] Leb Daily Star: Documentary on Armenian Community in Leb
|Subj: Documentary on Armenian Community in Lebanon
In the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide
Film depicts a fragile history after tragedy
Information Minister Samaha said more such documentaries should be made on
the history of Lebanon's various communities
By Nada Raad
Daily Star staff
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
A documentary on the Armenian community in Lebanon that airs this Friday
evening on the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) will shed light on
the history of their presence here, which, according to the producer
Carmen Labaki, began well before the 1915 Genocide.
The documentary, "Armenians in Lebanon" was filmed in Armenia, Turkey,
Syria, and Lebanon in an attempt to illustrate the Armenian history and
show their "dispersal" following the 1915 Genocide, which left more than a
Co-produced by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI),
the 85-minute documentary will be broadcast on LBC on Friday after the 8
p.m. news report, and one day ahead of the Armenian Genocide Remembrance
Day on April 24.
Labaki, who spent one year working on the film, said that she decided to
shoot the documentary after realizing that Armenian history is unknown by
many here, including some Armenians. Labaki, who previously produced two
documentaries - "Brazil in Lebanon," released in 1997, and "France in
Lebanon," released in 2001 - said that the scene which most touched her
concerns the shooting of the Bedouin Armenians living in the Syrian
"Every Bedouin Armenian living in Syria has a story to tell about his
parents' plight," Labaki said during the documentary's release on Monday
at the Haigazian University in Beirut. "But the story told by this second
generation does not have the same impact as if it were told by the
generation who lived the genocide," she added.
The documentary presents Armenian nationals who were uprooted from their
country, their culture and their families and friends, but who can still
list the names of family members. In Syria, many Armenians are now Muslim
Bedouins and have Arab names because they were adopted by Syrian families.
The documentary shows locations where Armenians were killed and tortured
by the Turks. During the Genocide some were killed in Armenia while others
were killed during a march from Turkey to Syria. On April 24, 1915, after
the Armenians in the army were disarmed and then killed, the political and
intellectual leaders meet the same fate.
After this event, the remaining Armenians were told they would be
relocated by marching them to concentration camps in the desert between
Jerablus and Deir ez-Zor where they were left without food and water to
starve under the sun.
In a technique common to many documentaries, the producer used contrasting
footage, with scenes of real footage in black and white abutting
contemporary shots of the genocide march.
"We went to Marqadeh in Deir ez-Zor to shoot the documentary. When I dug
in the sand I found bones ... from the genocide," Labaki said.
The documentary was also shot in Shadadeh, an area located in Deir ez-Zor,
where around 300,000 Armenians were put in a cave and burned.
In Syria, many Armenians live in Aleppo, while others left to come to
Lebanon. According to the documentary, the Armenian presence in Lebanon
dates from 1741, when the Armenian Patriarchy was established in Bzemmar.
Following the Genocide, Armenians arrived from Syria and Turkey in Anjar
where some died from cold and illness.
Currently, the Armenian community is concentrated in Bourj Hammoud and
they are well-known for their professionalism in commerce, jewelry design,
carpet making, and crafts.
In 1934, the Armenian community was allowed to vote, and in 1966 some
embers assumed ministerial posts.
Currently, the Armenian community is active through three political
parties: the Tashnak Party, the Ramgavar Party, and the Hentchak Party. In
Beirut, four MPs out of the 18 elected members are from the Armenian
The documentary shows that before 1975, members of the Armenian community
here considered themselves as "Armenians living in Lebanon," while today
they say, "We are Lebanese from an Armenian origin." Nonetheless, many
members of the Armenian community are currently returning to their
homeland. "Mount Ararat is waiting for them," the documentary said.
"We need memory in this country," Information Minister Michel Samaha said
at the opening. He added that such a documentary should be done on all the
ethnic groups in the country to allow the Lebanese to learn more about