Thursday, 16 April 2015

"I Remember and Demand"



Vrej Kassouny, December 22, 2011.
Therapist: "Ok... Let's go back about... 100 years... What do you see?"
Turkey: "NOOOOOO".


"... On the road we saw dead bodies and skeletons of at least a 100 people, it was terrible to see how the bones lay scattered on the road and in the ditches and in the fields, in several places they were plowing the ground and thus spreading the bones and skeletons all over the fields [...] when I think of how those poor wretches have siblings and parents like we do and who love them, it is so hard to imagine them killed in such a cruel manner and then left upon the ground to be eaten by dogs and wolves. It could be my father, mother or little sister".

The words above were written by Maria Jacobsen, a nurse and missionary, who kept a secret diary describing the Armenian Genocide in 1915 at first hand. Photo documentation of what she described and sadly much more can be found here. The genocide was initiated on April 24 1915, when intellectuals of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire were arrested and executed. Having removed the elite, the rest of the Armenian population, women, children and the elderly were driven from their homes on death marches. Between one and one and a half millions are estimated to have been killed.


Vrej Kassouny, 2005.
1915+2015 = 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
- Diaspora + Armenia = United

The international reaction was prompt and unanimous in regarding the massacre as being systematical of nature. Concerning the reaction I have seen the strength of it one generation earlier 1894/96 when a similar massacre on the Armenians, possibly a prequel to the 1915-genocide took place. I have written a book on the Danish museum-founder Johannes Hage, who was one of many in Europe, and it was a treat reading the old documents how passionately insistent they were on creating petitions and sharing articles across the continent to make the situation known and organize help.

That was part of the problem, though, in that the Armenian population was oriented towards Europe and taking an interest in democracy at a time when the multicultural Ottoman Empire was crumpling and eventually overthrown in 1913 when a military coup took place, leading to a nationalist military regime.


Vrej Kassouny. Erdogan's "Democratic Model" for Arabs? February 23, 2012.
- Use my model!
- Haven't we been using it for 400 years now?
Drawn one year into the Arab Spring, Aleppo is to be seen in the background.

That regime is not the state we know today as Turkey.

Nevertheless the Turkish authorities do everything they can to deny that genocide took place. It is claimed to be a matter of definition and a matter for the historians only.



Vrej Kassouny, Sarkozy vs. Erdogan, February 1, 2012.
-Hey! Did you just... SLAP ME?
- It was a Minute ago!!! Leave it to the Historians...


Rather than genocide, it was a civil war, as the Turkish authorities of today are claiming, with losses on all sides. The reason of this is as usual the fear of having to grant the Armenians land and compensation. And besides, there is no pride for the history books in having committed a crime against humankind.

This is where the cartoonist steps in, giving the denying a visual presence. Vrej Kassouny not so much draws the bloodshed. The genocide is a fact. Instead he has focused on the dance to avoid recognizing that very fact.

Erdogan dances on soft, shaky legs around the red mark stamped upon him. The denying has a threat implied, a readiness to twist anything, which in the visual context only goes to prove the first problem. Consequently Erdogan makes even the one slamming down on the Arab Spring feel ill at ease.

Kassouny has to boot personified The Denial as a traditionally clad Turk, laying before us how The Denial is an active standpoint with implications for the present day too when acting to obscure and threaten. The Denial is magnificently drawn as a cliché not being able to release himself from the past, eventually making himself a culpable party.




Vrej Kassouny, February 9, 2012.
Martin Schultz and (the then chief Turkish negotiator on accession to the EU) Egemen Bagis:
History vs. Axe:
- Accept your History
- Shall I... ?

Ultimately he has brought it upon himself, having the centennial pin of the forget-me-not: "I Remember and Demand" fixed upon him by the legal team lead by Amal Clooney and Geoffrey Robertson, while representing Armenia at the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) in Strasbourg. Amal Clooney is a statue of what shall not be hidden with even her robes moving as if the folds are carved in stone compared to the wreck that is The Denial. He was attempting to remove the field of flowers; instead the symbols of the Turkish flag are substituted by the lethal knife and the forget-me-not.



Vrej Kassouny, February 8, 2015.
Amal Clooney and Geoffrey Robertson vs. Turkish Denial of the Armenian Genocide!
24. April 1915 - 2015 - NEVER FORGET!



The cartoons shown are courtesy of Vrej Kassouny and must not be reproduced without his permission. His art can be seen here.


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