Nora Arisian: “Besides remembering, it is also our duty to know how to remind and demand”

Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with editor-in-chief of the Arabic section of Lebanon’s Aztag Daily, translator and the only woman member of the Union of Arab Writers Nora Arisian, who recently published her book “100 Years of Genocide…, 100 Testimonies of Arabs” in Arabic.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Arisian, which sources did you use to the book “100 Years of Genocide…, 100 Testimonies of Arabs”

Nora Arisian: I used various sources in order to make the book contain ample capacity. I used the records of historians and researchers who have touched upon the Armenian Genocide in Syria’s territory and in the region. I also included the memoirs of Arab politicians and cultural figures and the statements that they have made on different occasions, the records presenting political positions, as well as the interviews that I had conducted with celebrities in advance. I also referred to the Arab newspapers that were published during the days of the Armenian Genocide and the newspapers that have been published over the past decades. Of course, I have refrained from including diminutive words and statements and studies conducted from the perspective of solidarity. I was only focused on the positions on the Armenian Genocide.

Hayern Aysor: What made you want to publish the book?

N. A.: One hundred years after the Armenian Genocide, I thought it would be important to give a certain evaluation of the positions of Arabs on the Armenian Genocide. My goal was to examine how the Arabs understand the Armenian Genocide and how they view recognition, as well as shed more light on the Armenian Genocide in the Arab World. My book also serves as a call to record more testimonies that can encourage Arab governments to express a clear position and take decisions to not only recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide, but also criminalize denial of the Armenian Genocide in Arab countries. I believe the book has served its goal to a certain extent. It was recently presented in the Parliament of Syria and sparked great interest.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Arisian, your book serves as a unique attempt to bridge Arab-Armenian relations. How are those relations, especially from the perspective of the Armenian Genocide?

N. A.: The release of this book truly serves as an opportunity to reinforce the centuries-old Armenian-Arab relations. Armenians and Arabs have differed from relations in the past over the past couple of years, taking into account Turkey’s policy in the region and the positions of several Arab countries that served as an opportunity for the media and researchers to reveal the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians in the past century.

Hayern Aysor: How valuable do you think the Arab sources are in terms of raising the international community’s awareness about the Armenian Cause?

N. A.: I believe the Arabs’ sources serve as a major source due to two circumstances. First, we must not forget that the Arabs were the first witnesses of the Armenian Genocide. Second, they are Muslims, meaning they follow the religion of the perpetrators of the massacres. Therefore, the testimonies are reliable sources. We all needed to provide such sources and use them to raise the international community’s awareness about the Armenian Cause.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Arisian, you are also the editor-in-chief of the Arabic section of Lebanon’s Aztag Daily. What is the mission statement and targeted audience of the website?

N. A.: Our website is mainly targeted at the Arab audience and the Arab media. They receive distorted information. Another thing is that the Arab media hasn’t covered issues concerning Armenians at all, especially when it comes to cognitive materials and from the perspective of Armenians. All of this served as an opportunity to make Aztag Daily’s Arabic section become a reliable source.

I believe it wouldn’t be strange, if I said that the targeted audience was the layer of Armenians who don’t know Armenian and prefer to receive news in Arabic.

Hayern Aysor Mrs. Arisian, you are the only woman member of the Union of Arab Writers. What do you have to say about that?

N. A.: Frankly, I don’t know if it’s something to be happy about or not because I would like to see Syrian-Armenian women and, of course, men to be more involved in all spheres in Syria and in other Arab countries.

Being a member of the Union of Arab Writers gives me the opportunity to read excerpts from Armenian books and materials devoted to the Armenian language, and there is great interest in those books and materials. I am now the secretary of the Translation Committee and try to take advantage of every opportunity to present Armenian culture and literature.

Hayern Aysor: You have been granted the Movses Khorenatsi Medal by the President of the Republic of Armenia. How important are such awards for Armenians living and creating abroad?

N. A.: I was truly very touched, and I appreciate the fact that the government, particularly the President of the Republic of Armenia, follow Diaspora Armenians trying to make contributions to Armenia-Diaspora relations and presenting materials devoted to Armenia and Armenians or, better yet, presenting Armenia and Armenians in other countries.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Arisian, you also translate from Armenian to Arabic. What does translation mean to you?

N. A.: Over time, I realized that I could serve as a bridge to transmit Armenian culture, history and literature to Arab readers. Since I have good knowledge of both languages and am a professional translator, I try to translate as many Armenian books as I can for Arab readers. TO this day, I have translated ten books devoted to Armenian literature, the Armenian Genocide and the Karabakh issue.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Arisian, what is your greatest desire ahead of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide? What do you think is the greatest duty of every Armenian?

N. A.: The slogan for the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide (“I Remember and Demand”) already reminds us that we have to remember and demand. Therefore, I believe that, besides remembering, it is also our duty to know how to remind and demand.

I wouldn’t like to see Armenians simply hold events dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, but work constantly to disseminate more information about recognition and work more efficiently in the legal field.

Interview by Lusine Abrahamyan

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