May 18, 2019 - 10:57 AMT
Play about Armenian Genocide to have U.S. debut in June

Bay Area Drama Company will stage "State of Denial", a play set against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide. The performance will take place at Sunnyvale Theater from June 7 to 15. Each performance will be followed by a TalkBack with the playwright, Rahul Varma, Asbarez reports.

Odette, a Rwandan-Canadian filmmaker, travels to Turkey to investigate stories of genocide for an upcoming film. When she interviews Sahana, an elderly Muslim woman who has spent her life assisting survivors of the Armenian Genocide, she learns a devastating secret that she resolves to share with the world at any cost, even if it means revealing her own shocking secret.

The Armenian Genocide was carried out during and after World War I. It was implemented in two phases—the wholesale massacre of the able-bodied male population, followed by the deportation of women, children, the old and the infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian Desert. An estimated 1.5 million Armenians perished.

The word genocide—the intentional action to destroy a people—was coined by Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin was a lawyer of Polish-Jewish descent who barely escaped the Nazi Holocaust himself, but lost 49 relatives to it. After the war, Lemkin emigrated to the US where he campaigned to define and outlaw genocide. In his words “Sovereignty…cannot be conceived as the right to kill millions of people. Lemkin’s lifelong interest in the study and prevention of mass killings was first triggered by the Armenian Genocide.

Most historians and, as of 2019, 31 countries recognize the events of that time in Turkey as genocide. But the Turkish government denies that there was an official campaign to obliterate the Armenian population.

In the US, many political parties and 49 out of 50 states recognize the Armenian Genocide. The US government does not, due to pressure from the Administration which considers Turkey to be a key ally.