Dramatic Texts >> Anna Antaramian >> The Armenian Question
THE ARMENIAN QUESTION by Bill Rolleri and Anna Antaramian
Time:  1977
Place: Municipal Hall, Paris
Characters:
Jennifer Goldsmith, UNFRA Committee Chair, 30/40s
Rene Pensar, UNFRA Committee Member, late 40s
Eric Heinman, UNFRA Committee Member, late 50s
Walter Freeman, attorney for the Armenians, African-American, 40s
Kazim Yucelen, Turkish General, 60s
Armin Wegner, advocate for justice, 91
Anahid Siroonian, Armenian Witness/Activist, 70s,
Arpine Garabedian, Armenian Witness, 80s
Gerard Mouradian, Armenian Advocate, 80s

(Lights up. Large hall or courtroom. Large wall sign: UNFRA. Three separate tables and chairs set out with pads, pencils, carafes and glasses to accommodate Turkish General, three judges or committee members and Freeman with Anahaid; witness chair. Several other empty chairs placed about. Books and files already in place on the three conference tables. Most of the actors enter with audience, stand about chatting with them “in character.” The Turkish table is vacant. Slide projector and screen in place. Much milling about, hum of conversation. The judges enter, chat among themselves, arrange their files and papers, Goldsmith center. Goldsmith raises the gavel, surveys the crowd, taps the gavel for attention. Freeman and Anahid continue to confer.)
 
GOLDSMITH (Taps gavel again.)
Mister Freeman, we will begin now with or without the pleasure of your company.
(Freeman hurries to his table. Anahid follows.)

HEINMAN (Holds up note.)
I have a note here that…
 
FREEMAN (Rushes to position at conference table.)
Yes, ma’am. (Motions Anahid to table. They sit.)
 
GOLDSMITH
Last Friday we had the Ambassador from Turkey here. Please someone tell me he is not late this morning.
 
HEINMAN (Holds up a note.)
I picked up this note on the way in, Dr. Goldsmith. It appears…
 
PENSAR
What note? Where was it?
 
HEINMAN
From the Turkish Consulate. It says…
 
PENSAR
The Ambassador? That note was intended for Dr. Goldsmith, n’est-ce pas?
 
GOLDSMITH
Dr. Heinman, you picked up a note that was addressed to me? From the Turkish Consulate?
 
(Goldsmith and Pensar stare at Heinman. Heinman places the note in front of Goldsmith. Goldsmith picks up the note and reads it in silence.)
 
HEINMAN
In future, I shall leave notes where I find them.
 
GOLDSMITH (Drops the note in front of Pensar.)
Food poisoning. Of all things.
 
PENSAR (Picks up the note.)
Pardon?
 
GOLDSMITH
The Ambassador returned to Turkey to confer with his superiors and it appears he came down with food poisoning and…
 
PENSAR (Returns note to Goldsmith.)
He did not fly Air France.
 
GOLDSMITH
He will be replaced by General Kazim Yucelen, Deputy Prime Minister.
 
PENSAR (Noting the vacant conference table.)
Who is late? I suggest we begin. We can…
 
HEINMAN
It would be inappropriate to start without the General…
 
PENSAR
I believe Dr. Goldsmith is Chair of this Committee.
 
HEINMAN
He probably flew in this morning, I suggest we…
 
 
GOLDSMITH (Blinks at flashes They cease.)
Thank you. And thanks to Mister Freeman, we have with us today more members of the press than usual. (Beat. She checks her notes.) For the sake of those new faces, it makes sense to clarify the role of this agency. You all know that we are in the midst of a catastrophic global drought. Famine runs rampant in many parts of the world. Canada, the U.S. and Mexico have placed their grain surpluses at the disposal of UNFRA. The United Nations Food Redistribution Agency. Our mission is to assure that surplus grain gets where it is most needed. While we are running out of grain and time, we are not running out of starving nations. Last Friday the Turkish Ambassador delivered his country’s most recent census report to document the nutritional needs of his country.
 
PENSAR
Business as usual.
 
GOLDSMITH
But something else happened last Friday that is not business as usual. An American trial attorney, Mister Walter Freeman…
 
(Photographers’ camera flashes as Freeman rises, waves, smiles.)
 
GOLDSMITH (Cont’d. - Annoyed by flashes. To photographers.) That will do. (Flashes stop) Mr. Freeman came here with some of his fellow citizens requesting that they be heard as witnesses. At the discretion of this committee and…
 
HEINMAN
And so long as the testimony is relevant to the nutritional needs of Turkey. We can ask Mister Freeman to explain how his clients…
 
PENSAR
We can listen to the witnesses for ourselves, n’est-ce pas?
 
GOLDSMITH
We can stop bickering, n’est-ce pas? (To Press.) The Turkish Ambassador to France agreed to these conditions Friday. He asked us to give him the weekend to confer with his government. in Ankara. Now he has fallen ill. He has been replaced by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mister , General? -- Kazim Yucelen, is that General?
 
HEINMAN (To the press.)
Yes, General, he prefers to be called….
 
PENSAR (To Heinman.)
He is a friend of yours?
 
FREEMAN (Stands)
Dr. Goldsmith…can we proceed with the first witness please?
 
PENSAR
Of course, it is time.
 
HEINMAN (To Goldsmith.)
We should wait for the General. While this is not a court of law…
 
GOLDSMITH (To Press.)
It is nevertheless a formal hearing.
 
FREEMAN
My first witness is Miss Anahid Siroonian. Just to be ready whenever you…
 
PENSAR (To the Press.)
Also we are not judges. I teach Philosophy at the Sorbonne. Dr. Goldsmith is a leader of the feminist movement in America. (Points at Heinman.) He’s the only lawyer here.
 
(General enters, a striking man, conservative civilian clothes, military bearing. He makes his way forward.)
 
HEINMAN
I plead guilty as charged.
 
PENSAR (Sees the General.)
These military professionals march while the rest of us merely walk. Jennifer?
 
(Goldsmith gets the message, motions to the General to come forward, sit. Anahid to witness chair. Heinman offers bible, “swearing in” is inaudible.)
 
HEINMAN
Uh--do you swear to tell the truth…
 
(The General bows to Goldsmith, turns to pose for several more photos.)
 
ANAHID
My name is Anahid Siroonian. I was born in Sivas and…perhaps I should wait until the General is finished posing.
 
GOLDSMITH (Acknowledges.)
Good morning, General. Please have a seat and…
 
GENERAL
Good morning, Dr. Goldsmith, my abject apologies for my late arrival, but…
 
GOLDSMITH (To photographers.)
If your cameras are a disturbance, I will bar them. (To Anahid.) Madame, please go on, briefly.
 
GENERAL (Removes leather folder from attaché case.)
Ah, Dr. Goldsmith, if I may, before we, ah, I have here an official statement from my government, may I…

GOLDSMITH
All in due time, General. Right now we have a witness on…

ANAHID
We lived on a farm. I was one of five children, we were a very large family of…

GENERAL (Puts down leather folder.)
I do beg your pardon but, with all due respect, the witness, Ms. Siroonian, certainly, given her age, she must be treated with respect, but….

FREEMAN
She said later.

GENERAL
In all sincerity, I ask is it prudent to assume that everyone is here for humanitarian reasons? She is a lifelong political activist and I am obliged to question the relevance…

HEINMAN
I join the General in raising that question, Dr. Goldsmith.

FREEMAN
She has not even begun to…

PENSAR
I suggest that the sooner we hear what these people have to say, the sooner we can…

GENERAL
Truthfully, Dr. Goldsmith, it was most disheartening to learn that you would be taking testimony from Armenians when the rightful concern of…

PENSAR
General, your Ambassador agreed to…

GENERAL
Yes, a good man, a very fine man, David Havig, I have known him for years, highly respected, but, ah, I must say, he simply should not have authorized this.

PENSAR
Nevertheless he did agree.

GENERAL
Yes, and his word will be honored but we implore you to reconsider your decision to…

PENSAR
General, the charter of this agency allows for testimony from any source and provides discretionary authority to…(Begins to rise.) I have a copy here for…

HEINMAN
I’m confident the General already knows…

GOLDSMITH (Touches his arm.)
Rene, please. (He sits.)

PENSAR
The Ambassador was quite articulate in conveying his lack of joy at the prospect of...

FREEMAN
Dr. Goldsmith, I have a witness on the…

GOLDSMITH
General Yucelen, our decision has been made. It will not be reversed.

GENERAL
All the same, we are not persuaded that he was sufficiently assertive regarding the severity of…I dread to think of the Turkish people who died of starvation in the last two days simply because…and that is to say nothing of all the other nations in dire need of relief that has been delayed by this…this lawyer who…well…There are other nations in great need. They are waiting on line, so to speak, no?

PENSAR (To Goldsmith.)
Perhaps we can postpone this hearing to attend those other nations?

GENERAL
Good heavens, I have simply made a point of order.

FREEMAN
Madame.

GENERAL
In view of the suffering in my country even as we speak, I must . . .

FREEMAN
Madame, this woman traveled all the way from California to be here today, and...

GENERAL
Yes we know of her, and I must question the credibility of her…

MOURADIAN (On his feet, waves cane.)
No, she not lie! You lie!

GENERAL (Points at Mouradian.)
Aha! You see, Madame? This old man, he…

GOLDSMITH (Gavel.)
Mr. Freeman, does he belong with you?
 
ANAHID  
Gerard! Sit down!
 
MORADIAN (Sits.)
He lies. (Mumbles.) That one over there, he lies.
 
ANAHID
He is a friend, he is…Armenian, but he is not going to…
 
GENERAL (Rises.)
Madame, you see here, this old man, a remnant of the past from a time of…

MOURADIAN
Yah? Me? What he say?

GENERAL
This old man is tragically the essence of what is Armenia today: Hatred for Turkey.

ANAHID
We hate no one.

GENERAL (To Mouradian.)
I assure you, Sir, we hold no hatred for you, only sorrow. (To Goldsmith.) And please believe me, I do not question their sincerity. But they have been led to believe that terrible inhumanities were committed by my government against …

GOLDSMITH
General, please be seated.

PENSAR
Unless you wish to postpone?

GENERAL (Sits.)
I wish to remind us all that we are here to relieve the suffering of starving people, not…

FREEMAN
Miss Siroonian, what can you tell us about that year, 1915, in Turkey? The government?

ANAHID
The government?

GENERAL
Of course, at that age, ten were you, how could you know about…

ANAHID
I know everything was peaceful and loving before they… We were not wealthy, but there was always enough food, warm clothing, shoes. Then the Turks came, with their guns. They said the men had to leave right away to join the Turkish Army. They were waving this piece of paper, and they kept on saying that the three men had to come immediately.

GENERAL
It was the war. My own father was given four hours’ notice. One week later he was at the Russian border with a rifle and six bullets. A month later he was…

ANAHID
My father and my uncles, they protested.

GENERAL
He has no grave.

ANAHID
They said what are you doing? You can’t just take us away like this, we have family…

GENERAL
Please, in all fairness, do consider the inequity of discussing these matters without acknowledging the revolution at a time of profound international pressure on Turkey in 1915. Armenians, most unfortunately traitors, there is no way to soften the word, and…

FREEMAN (To Goldsmith.)
There was no revolution.

GENERAL
And the sovereign government was forced to suppress a revolutionary uprising in which thousands of innocent Muslims were being… and you, Sir, are far too young to speak authoritatively of the revolution of 1915.

(Only elderly Armenians respond to Freeman’s following requests.)

FREEMAN
Excellent point, Sir, which applies to you as well. (To Goldsmith.) Madame Chair, with your permission…(To all.) May I see a show of hands of people present today who are old enough to remember the year 1915 in Turkey? (A number of elderly people raise their hands.) Now, General, how much would you like to bet that most of them are Armenian survivors of the blood bath you…

HEINMAN
This is not a classroom!

GOLDSMITH (Slams gavel. To the people.)
Put your hands down! (To Freeman.) That was a mistake, Sir, one that I trust you will not repeat. Miss Siroonian, we don’t have much time.

ANAHID
The Turks forced the men to get ready. We protested…began to cry. My father…he picked me up and held me. I can still…he said not to worry. God would protect them.

FREEMAN
And – at gunpoint -- the Turkish soldiers took them away?

ANAHID
I never saw my father again. One week later, Turkish soldiers came again. They rounded up all the older boys, 10 years and older. They tied their wrists to each other. Then they marched them out of town. Into the fields, about 200 yards away…

GENERAL
Is it not reasonable to ask if a ten-year-old can judge 200 yards?

ANAHID
We heard gunfire! We climbed up onto the rooftops. We could see…we could see them! Shooting right into the boys. They were falling down, bouncing on the ground, writhing. The soldiers stood over them, shooting. Then they didn’t move anymore. Two of them were my brothers, Gabi, eleven, Hirant, twelve!

GENERAL
There cannot be any question this was tragic. So young, so…but Madame, we must acknowledge that youngsters have been soldiers in all wars, and that is the true tragedy. Korea, Vietnam. The Americans used them in Vietnam, I saw this, as did you, Lieutenant Freeman, yes?

FREEMAN
I don’t know what you’re talking about and Turks did not fight in Nam.

GENERAL
Ah, those operations are still highly classified, very understandable, Delta Force, was it? Yes, the things the Americans did, yes, I was there as an observer. You were…

FREEMAN (To Anahid.)
Your brothers, Anahid. How many Turks did they kill?

ANAHID (Confused.)
They did not kill anyone. (Beat.) We were alone now, the babies, old people, young girls. The Turks ordered us to get ready to move out. Some of us had ox carts. We packed as much food and clothing as we could. They drove us out onto the road. I never saw my home again. There were beautiful flowers in the front garden, my mother called it her rainbow , all the different colors, and…and…

FREEMAN
Anahid? What happened after. After you left…

ANAHID
We were on the road…the soldiers stopped us near a town. They let the people come and take everything. The ox carts, our food, clothing. The people beat us with clubs and stoned us. They took the young girls, they…

FREEMAN
Your family?

ANAHID
One of my aunts had a gold watch. A wedding present. She wouldn’t let a soldier have it, so he just put a gun to her chest and pulled the trigger.

GENERAL (Holds up a file.)
Wartime, these things happen…you men, you all served as soldiers, you know how…(To Pensar.) Sir, you were, I believe, a resistance fighter in France…a very courageous little boy at the age of 15. So you know the horror I speak of, you know that in war one cannot control random acts of cruelty. And without question…(To Anahid.) this woman lost her beloved aunt in a terrifying manner, a deeply painful experience that cannot be…

PENSAR (Notes file.)
Tres bien, your files, you know so much. Do you know that I was born in Le Chambon? A beautiful little village in southern France? When the Nazis came they…

HEINMAN GOLDSMITH
What benefit in digging up old… Rene…must you?

PENSAR
Yes, the Nazis. We saved the lives of 5,000 Jews by taking them into our homes. For this, people were shot. The little boy who lived in my basement for two years. Little Andre. In the darkness. Do you have also a file on my friend Andre?

FREEMAN
May I finish with this witness, or…?

GENERAL
Thank you for sharing this about yourself, you must feel a special compassion for the downtrodden. As well do we know that Dr. Heinman was a tank commander in a Panzer Division. Your enemy. Yet you serve together now, that is all in the past, just as it should be. Sergeant Eric Heinman, highly decorated, for valor. Not what one would call a Nazi.

HEINMAN
I was a simple soldier. I fought for my…war is a wild beast.

GOLDSMITH
We stray, gentlemen.

GENERAL (To Pensar.)
And there is hardly anything in the human experience that is more of a wild beast than starvation. (He picks up Turkish paper and holds it aloft.) Speaking of which, my people are dying in frightening numbers, they… I have statistics. Time is…

PENSAR
We cannot read Turkish. And Mr. Freeman would like to…

GENERAL (Lowers newspaper. To Goldsmith.)
You yourself have two young children in Chicago, Madame.

GOLDSMITH
You know about my children?

GENERAL
Imagine if they were…

ANAHID (To Freeman.)
She has children.

GENERAL
Madame, have you ever gone hungry?

FREEMAN (Stands.)
Is he finished?

GENERAL
I tell you, Madame, we become less human when we are starving. I have seen parents eat while their children died. Unimaginable? Yes. I appeal to your best nature as a human being, Madame, to conclude this hearing as quickly as…

GOLDSMITH
Mister Freeman, the point is that lost time could be lost lives.

ANAHID (To Freeman.)
We do not wish to see innocent people suffer, least of all the children….

FREEMAN
On the road, Anahid. Anahid? How did they keep you moving on the…

ANAHID
Bayonets. Clubs. Stragglers were shot, even children. Yes, even the children. My infant brother, Adam. I screamed at one of the beasts and he laughed at me. He said, “If you survive this, little girl, you will tell people about it till the day you die. But nobody will ever believe you.” Nobody. He was right.

FREEMAN
You told me there were 2,000 people in your group when you left. Six months later…

GENERAL
Again, a 10-year-old who can count that high?

ANAHID
Two hundred arrived in Aleppo. (Beat.) Out of 2,000.

GENERAL (Picks up the leather-bound folder.)
Dr. Goldsmith, I truly wish you would permit me to present this governmental statement of policy, a formal pronouncement by my prime minister and…

FREEMAN
Is my client to be continually interrupted?

GENERAL
I do apologize, Mr. Freeman, if the situation were not so desperate…

HEINMAN
This hearing allows for informality, Sir, if the statement is…

GENERAL
Thank you, yes, did Armenians suffer? Did they die? Yes, as did the many thousands of Muslims who died at the hands of the traitors. It is merely a matter of historical fact that the government had to relocate some 400,000 people, you can imagine….

FREEMAN
The number of deportations we have is 2 million.

GENERAL
The logistical challenge, to move 400,000 people over major highways, through cities and towns where people feared them, even despised them for what their friends and relatives were doing to innocent Muslims.

ANAHID
We did nothing to Muslims. Our people were attacked by the Turks in all the major cities in the east, they tried to protect themselves.

GENERAL
Our soldiers tried to protect the Armenians from angry citizens and Russian artillery, which accounted for 15,000 of these poor people. Disease took another 25,000, even our own troops had no medical supplies. It’s true that as many as 40,000 died but what else could we do? That is why this woman’s statistics are fraudulent. Based on the facts, if 2,000 people left Sivas, 1,800 arrived in Aleppo. Unharmed and protected.

FREEMAN
Ma’am, we’ll be more than happy to play the numbers game a little later, right now I would like to continue with…Anahid, please just tell your…

GOLDSMITH
General, let’s finish with this witness now. And then…

GENERAL
Did he say game?

ANAHID
Before we passed out of Sivas, I was sold to an Arab as a slave. My cousin told the Arab we had wealthy relatives in Marsovan, and he could…

GENERAL
This is no game, Sir, this…may I question this woman?

ANAHID
He could make a lot of money by taking me there. He sold me to my Uncle Raffi. I got word later in Fresno…

GENERAL (Rises.)
I see you wear a cross, do you go to church on Sundays as a rule?

ANAHID
Crucifix. (Beat.) Every Sunday. Except when…

GENERAL (Approaches her.)
Except when you’re ill, wonderful, every Sunday, my mother was very religious as well, also my wife, you do this even when you travel? Away from home, you…

ANAHID
Yes.

GENERAL
So, you were in church just yesterday, no? Here in Paris? There is a church…?

ANAHID
Saint Marie’s.

GENERAL (Stands close to her.)
Good, very good. Perhaps you can tell me how many people were in the church with you. Just 24 hours ago, remember now, God is listening, so how many people …

FREEMAN
God might agree it’s a dumb question.

GENERAL
How many?

ANAHID
I don’t know. Maybe …

GENERAL (Stands over her.)
You do not know. I would like to most respectfully remind you, Madame, you took an oath here, you…

ANAHID
When I am in church I pray, I do not count people!

GENERAL
You called God as your witness and you…

FREEMAN
No need to badger the witness, General.

GENERAL
You can smear the good name of Turkey, but we are not permitted to make a point? I must ask: (To Anahid.) Why this man?

ANAHID
He’s an attorney.

GENERAL (Picks up another file.)
And his clients? The highly regarded leaders of the civil rights movement? No. They are the dope peddlers of New York, the scum of the…he collects his fees from people who keep their entire estates in their socks, he has often faced ethics charges…

FREEMAN
I was cleared of all such charges.

GENERAL (To Anahid.)
Believe me, Madame, you get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get.

ANAHID
It’s true he may have set criminals free, he is very…

FREEMAN
It’s called due process. Presumed innocence? We find that more humane than wiping out an entire culture just because…

GENERAL
How much are you stealing from these Armenians?

ANAHID
Nothing.

GENERAL
Ah, pro bono? Altruism? You are here on principle? Because in your own country your kind are oppressed by those in power?

GOLDSMITH
General, that is not germane.

GENERAL
Good law school, top of the class, why was he rejected by the prestigious law firms?

GOLDSMITH
General.

GENERAL
I apologize, Madame, but no reputable attorney would have accepted this…

ANAHID
He defends the indefensible. And he wins.

GENERAL
Are you saying your own cause is indefensible?

ANAHID
No. Yours is.

GENERAL
All he wants is his name in the newspapers. (To Freeman.) You advance your career over the bodies of dying children, and you put their blood on the hands of your clients. (To Anahid.) I ask you to answer from your heart now: If you thought for one moment that you were killing little children, would you leave here? (Pause.) I said would you…

ANAHID FREEMAN
Yes! No! That is not…

GENERAL (To Anahid.)
Tragically, he does not care one whit about the suffering children of Turkey.

ANAHID
Tell him he’s wrong.

GOLDSMITH
People, you will get back to the matter at hand or…

GENERAL (To Goldsmith.)
Of course, Madame. Were there tragic events in Turkey in 1915? Undeniably, it’s in all our history books. The Young Turks, before the war. Talaat, Enver and Jemal, Talaat chief among them. Young. Idealistic. They wanted religious and ethnic equality for all. At a time when black Americans were being hanged from trees just for trying to….

FREEMAN
This is not about American history.

GENERAL
Very well, but there was a festering hatred among the Armenians because they had not been well treated, historically. Can you blame them for feeling like second-class citizens? I do not. But their hatred was so deeply rooted that when Talaat held out the hand of compassion, the opportunity for a better life in a more unified nation…

FREEMAN
The home of the free and the brave.

GENERAL (Picks up Turkish newspaper.)
Before those hatreds could be resolved, we were at war. The opportunity fell from our hands. (To Goldsmith.) And now you have an opportunity that may slip through your fingers. In Turkey eighty dead every day. (Drops the newspaper near Anahid.) And how many of them do you think are innocent Muslim children? I beg of you, with every ounce of my heart and soul, do not let the children continue to suffer.

ANAHID
We mean no harm to any child, Muslim or Christian.

PENSAR
Nor does anyone here.

FREEMAN
Madame, we are supposed to be hearing from this witness about…

GENERAL (To Anahid.)
And for what purpose? In the name of Allah, why are you here, what do you want?

ANAHID
Acknowledgment. Justice!

GENERAL
And what do you call justice?

FREEMAN
The concept is both simple and universal.

GENERAL
Regrettably, your client mistakes vengeance for justice, and you encourage her.

HEINMAN
Mr. Freeman, again, will you please make the necessary connections now.

GOLDSMITH
Mr. Freeman, do you understand?

FREEMAN
Dr. Heinman, it is as an attorney that I appeal to you, that I ask your forbearance…I will make those connections, but please permit me to. uh…

GENERAL
To bury children.

GOLDSMITH
I caution you, Sir. You will not use this agency to achieve unrelated political…

FREEMAN
Madame, I just need a little time to structure the sense of relevance Dr. Heinman requires, I need to bring us all to a place where…

PENSAR
Ah, Dr. Goldsmith, perhaps he wishes merely to lay the, uh, foundation. The, uh…

FREEMAN
Exactly.

PENSAR (To colleagues.)
Perhaps we can be patient for a while.

HEINMAN
That no longer works for me. (To Goldsmith.) It’s your choice.

PENSAR
Jennifer, a few minutes, ca va?

GOLDSMITH (To Freeman.)
You realize that we are bending over backwards to be fair.

FREEMAN
Anahid, you were taken to Marsa....?

ANAHID
Marsavan. My uncle owned a factory there, they needed him to run it. Also, at about this time, the deportations out of Marsavan stopped. The Turks…

FREEMAN
Why did the deportations stop?

ANAHID
The shops were closing, places of work were shutting down. You see, Turkish men only know how to serve in the army or in government jobs, they don’t know how to do anything useful, so they needed Armenians to…

GENERAL (To Committee.)
Now that is both unfair and untrue. Can’t you see what they are doing?

FREEMAN (To General)
Perhaps you can tell us why the deportations stopped.

ANAHID
They stopped because the Armenians were the light of the city. The Turks discovered they were putting that light out. This was…

GENERAL
They stopped simply because the insurrectionists had been identified, apprehended and deported to holding camps. To contain them. Very simple.

FREEMAN (To Anahid.)
So, life went back to normal in Marsavan? Almost? No?

ANAHID
General Khalil Rejai Bey came, with his army. I saw him. His face was made of granite. He was on his way to Ankara, killing all the Armenians in his path…

GENERAL
This child could not have known by her own eyes that Kahlil Bey was killing all Armenians in his…please admit someone put that idea in your head. Admit that…

ANAHID
Horrible things were done to people. Unimaginable things were…old, young, women, men, little ones…children…
(Anahid drifts into her own thoughts.)

FREEMAN
Little children? One particular little child?
(Anahid is silent, She stares at Freeman.)

GENERAL
Yes? What happened to this little girl? Was she unusually pretty? With golden curls and rosy cheeks? A plaything? Little girls can be quite coquettish, isn’t that true? Did you twirl for him, in your pretty littte dress with the…

ANAHID
My mother gave me that dress for my tenth birthday.

GENERAL
Grown men, away from their wives, evil thoughts…

ANAHID
My dress was covered with blood, torn to shreds…

GENERAL
Men who normally would never dream of…
 
ANAHID
It started to rain.

GENERAL
Oh, please do say it aloud, Madame.

ANAHID
I died there.

GENERAL
So I can deal with it.

MOURADIAN
She died.

GENERAL
Say it!

ANAHID
No!

GENERAL
Now!

ANAHID
It was a clear night. I was in the street, lost. Alone, I don’t know why. I couldn’t scream. He…the stars were shimmering…heaven was trying to catch her breath, I lay there wondering if God…if God even cared. The blood was inside me. My life was over sixty years ago! I have no children. I never married.

GENERAL
Wartime. Beastly acts. But what of men who commit atrocities in peacetime? The wanton murder of the Turkish Ambassador to Austria just a few years ago? And then the First Secretary of our embassy in Bayrouth is killed at his own dining room table. And last February, the Turkish Ambassador to the Vatican is torn apart by automatic gunfire on the steps of the embassy. All atrocity, all in peacetime. Yanikian?

ANAHID
What?

GENERAL
You know that name? (Beat.) No answer. It all started with Yanikian, did it not, these killings, this wave of terrorism. Five years ago in Los Angeles?

FREEMAN
What is this, who are you…

GENERAL
That name rings a bell, yes? This terrorist sends word to our Consul General that he wishes to make a gift. A rare painting of one of our revered leaders. And when he comes for his gift, it is a bullet. Beware of Armenians bearing gifts. We know you were his friend. Did you know of his plan? Justice you say? No. Revenge. Because your life ended in some alleyway sixty years ago.

FREEMAN (To Anahid.)
What is he talking about?

GENERAL
Did you know of his plan?

ANAHID
He was my friend, but I never…

FREEMAN
You will not accuse my witness of complicity in…

ANAHID
I didn’t know!

GENERAL
You did not know he was going to commit murder? A close friend?

ANAHID
I had nothing to do with any of this! I have never harmed a human being in my life!

PENSAR
Sir, what honor is there in suggesting that an old woman is responsible for killing…

GENERAL
Let me ask you, what honor is there in permitting outrageous lies to be entered into an official record, to be reported to the world by…

HEINMAN
There is no question of honor here, or lack of it.

GENERAL (To Heinman.)
You know of honor, Sir, you were awarded the Iron Cross. Heroism under intense enemy fire. So indeed I bow to your judgment on this point.

HEINMAN
That was a long time ago, Sir. Again I was only a…I was not a hero.

GENERAL
I am reminded that heroes are modest. My point…

GOLDSMITH
As Dr. Heinman suggests, it is time, Mr. Freeman.

FREEMAN
Ma’am?

GOLDSMITH
I have begun to question the prudence of my decision to permit your witnesses to testify at all. You will now make that all-important connection or terminate further…

FREEMAN (As Anahid leaves witness chair.)
I told these people that according to the bylaws of your charter they would…

HEINMAN
Subject to our discretion.

GENERAL (Holds up leather folder.)
I assume that at some point in this process I will be permitted to finish the official policy statement of my government. So far…

HEINMAN
I suggest we permit the General to do so, Dr. Goldsmith. It will give Mr. Freeman time to mull over what you have requested of him.

FREEMAN
Wait a minute.

GOLDSMITH
That’s fine. Take a seat, Mr. Freeman.

PENSAR FREEMAN
Dr, Goldsmith… Madame, please…I told them…

GOLDSMITH (To Freeman.)
This committee is not bound by commitments you made. Ponder that. General.

(Freeman sits and motions Anahid off the witness stand as the General rises, approaches the screen. Anahid resumes her seat next to Freeman.)

GENERAL
I will ask the attendant to turn on the slide projector, perhaps lower the lights so we can… (The screen lights up blank as general stage lighting is lowered.) Ah, here we go. That first slide, please?
(Image appears, map shows Turkey’s borders to the east.
GENERAL uses his pointer.) Yes, Turkey. France and Britain to the west, Russia to the east, winter 1915. We are at war with all three of these powerful nations, Germany and Austria our allies. Surrounded. Next slide, please. (Closer image of Turkey’s eastern border.) The Russian front. Our eastern border a shambles…300,000 well-equipped fighting men reduced to 15,000 ragged patriots counting their bullets, all that stood between our heartland and the barbarians. Which included 50,000 Armenians in Russian uniforms.

ANAHID
They were Russian, not Turkish.

GENERAL
Deserters.

ANAHID
Armenians who had been driven out of Turkey by…

HEINMAN
I recommend we show the General the courtesy of letting him finish.

GENERAL (Pointer.)
The city of Van. Here, Bitlis, here Erserum. Cities teeming with well-armed Armenian insurrectionists, fanatical haters of Turks and Muslims. The Russian barbarians are pouring over those eastern borders, slaughtering, destroying. And that is when the insurrectionists attacked from the rear with all the ferocity of raging savages. Many soldiers, many innocent Muslims died. This is historical fact It was imperative that the Armenian population be moved away from proximity to the Russian front, to new homes where good Armenians would not have to suffer because of the disloyalty of traitors. That is why we did our utmost to get them out of harm’s way while our armed forces from the interior rushed forward to quell the insurrectionists and meet the enemy.

PENSAR
Allow me. (To Anahid.) To your knowledge, Miss Siroonian, were there Armenian revolutionaries at that time? Sivas, was it?

ANAHID
Yes.

GENERAL
Aha, there, you see?

FREEMAN
Now you trust her memory.

ANAHID
Men and boys trying to protect their families from being murdered in their beds.

GENERAL
Traitors, Madame.

PENSAR
Sivas. I am wondering, General, how far is it from Sivas to…the Russian…

GENERAL (Points at Sivas.)
Ah, yes, where this woman’s family lived? Excellent question, why indeed move people out of Sivas? (Points.) You see these lines? Major roads to the front over which traveled truck convoys. Food, munitions, medical supplies for our soldiers. Roving bands of
Armenian rebels were tearing up these roads, destroying the convoys, killing men who are trying to help their suffering comrades, the same in areas such as Cilicia, Urfa…

MOURADIAN
Yah, me Urfa!

GENERAL
Yah. No, this was no genocide, national survival was at stake. Now you can see how the things that happened sixty-two years ago have absolutely nothing to do with this hearing.

FREEMAN (Standing.)
Now that we’ve heard from…

(General goes to his table, picks up leather folder and takes it to Goldsmith’s table. He lays it on top of the Turkish census report.)

GENERAL
This statement of official policy bears the authenticating signature of my Prime Minister. You have all of the necessary documentation now to make the right decision in this…

PENSAR
How many more witnesses are here?

MOURADIAN
Millions, all dead, yah.

GOLDSMITH
That does not matter, Rene.

HEINMAN
I must agree.

PENSAR (Points at Mouradian.)
The old man, is he…

GENERAL
In the name of humanity, please, no more witnesses!

PENSAR (To General.)
You are not dictating to this committee, Sir!

GENERAL
Please do not force me to caution you, Sir, that…

PENSAR
You caution me?

GENERAL
How many innocents will die while you enjoy mythology? Can you hear their cries? The old, the sick, the children…especially the…

ANAHID (To Freeman.)
Tell them.

GOLDSMITH
Tell us what?

FREEMAN
I have no idea.

ANAHID
Tell them.

GENERAL (To Freeman.)
Yes. Tell us.

FREEMAN (To Goldsmith.)
It’s nothing. (To Anahid.) You don’t win by advertising your weaknesses.

PENSAR
If you refuse to let at least one more of these people speak, I will take them out into the hallway and listen to every word they have to say.

ANAHID (Stands.)
Then I will.

PENSAR (Stands to address front row.)
And I invite the members of the press to come with me!

FREEMAN (Rising, to Anahid.)
Don’t do that.

ANAHID
Our attorney has been given explicit instructions.

FREEMAN (Takes Anahid’s arm.)
Please!

PENSAR (To the Press.)
Will you come with me?

ANAHID (Pulls loose of Freeman.)
No children are to be jeopardized!

GOLDSMITH (Gavel.)
Everyone! Sir down! (To cameras.) Stop that! (Flashes stop, they all sit.) No one is going anywhere! Dr. Pensar, remember where you are.

PENSAR (Calming.)
I apologize. Indeed, I…but please…perhaps just one more. For the sake of fair…fair…

FREEMAN
Play.

PENSAR
Oui, merci, fair play.

HEINMAN
And what of fairness to Turkey?

GENERAL
Exactly.

GOLDSMITH
That is why we are here. (To Freeman.) One more. Do you understand?

FREEMAN
Oh, yes, ma’am.

(Freeman and Anahid to review the list. They turn to look at one woman.)

FREEMAN
Madame. Madame, will you please take the stand? (The woman does not move.) We absolutely need you to come and take the stand. (Beat.) I call Mrs. Arpine Garabedian. (Pause.) And if she does not come forward…

GOLDSMITH
There is no going back.

GENERAL
Perhaps the clever lawyer from New York has outfoxed himself.

FREEMAN (To Arpine.)
Has the clever lawyer from New York outfoxed himself?

(Pause. Arpine frozen. Mouradian rises, moves toward the witness chair.)

ANAHID FREEMAN HEINMAN
Gerard. Mr. Mouradian, don’t… Sir?

(Mouradian ignores everyone, goes to the witness chair and sits.)

GOLDSMITH
I do not believe this.

GENERAL
Quite believable, he’s a madman. Senile.

ANAHID (Rises, goes to Mouradian..)
He is not mad. He is… broken. Gerard. Come.

(Mouradian rises, lets himself be led out of the witness chair by Anahid. She speaks to him, inaudible, He looks at Arpine. Anahid returns to her seat.)

GENERAL
Very well, then. Can we move along now?

(Mouradian moves toward Arpine.)

MOURADIAN
Yah. Move along, yah.

FREEMAN (Picks up file.)
Yes, we can. I would like to…

GENERAL
You are finished, Sir.

GOLDSMITH
Mr. Freeman, there is something about “no more witnesses” that baffles you?

FREEMAN (Holds up a letter.)
This is not a witness, Madame. It’s…

(Mouradian, stands before Arpine, speaks to her, inaudible.)

GENERAL (On his feet.)
Madame, have we not had enough of this Mr. Freeman?

HEINMAN
In view of the critical nature of the famine in Turkey…

PENSAR
Au contraire, in view of the famine throughout the world…

GOLDSMITH (To her colleagues.)
Gentlemen, this is not a struggle for male supremacy, we are here to make decisions…

GENERAL
Most respectfully, decisions that will be heard round the world, yes.

GOLDSMITH
Meaning? Please say what you are saying, General.

GENERAL
Your President’s cabinet secretary of education is quite ill and...well…

GOLDSMITH
Yes, you can say it out loud, Sir, I am under consideration as his replacement, along with several others. That’s personal, it has nothing to do with hearing, General.

GENERAL
In the view of Allah, everything is related to all. You, Madame, are also a highly regarded figure in the feminist movement in your country, you even wrote a book…

PENSAR
That is also personal.

GENERAL
For this you are to be greatly admired, but your book, Madame…it does not treat kindly of woman’s role in Muslim societies and even though I have not finished reading…

GOLDSMITH
Finish the book, Sir. It does not treat kindly of woman’s role in the Judeo-Christian culture that presupposes God is of the male gender. But you are suggesting I have a bias?

(Freeman holds up the piece of paper to get Goldsmith’s attention as Mouradian struggles to his knees before Arpine. She reaches out to steady him.)

GENERAL
Madame, relations between your country and mine are excellent and I would regret to see…we should…I just wish to clear the air on anything that might…

GOLDSMITH (To General.)
I’m greatly relieved to hear that. (To Freeman.) Will you please stop…what is that?

FREEMAN (Holds up the document.)
This is what the General asked for. By lamenting the lack of documentation, he…

GENERAL
I lament only dishonesty…and your presence.

(Arpine rises, helps Mouradian to his feet.)

FREEMAN
Documentation that something other than an insurrection took place. Something like a…

(Arpine and Mouradian cross.)

GOLDSMITH
As Dr. Heinman has made clear, this committee will base decisions on…(Sees Arpine.) Oh. It appears you have a choice. Mr. Freeman…your last witness or your document.

GENERAL
Must we?

MOURADIAN
Yah. We must, yah.

FREEMAN (To Arpine.)
Thank you, ma’am. (Puts down the document.) We can wait on this.

PENSAR
May I see that?

FREEMAN (Takes document to Pensar.)
Absolutely.

(Heinman quietly swears in Aprine; Pensar studies document.)

GENERAL
One hopes to hear a different story from this witness, perhaps a story about a compassionate Turk who gave a dying Armenian a sip of water, a piece of bread, a…

FREEMAN
Yes, one can always hope.

GOLDSMITH
General, I will limit Mr. Freeman’s time, but please let us go forward now.

FREEMAN
I’ll be happy to sit down and be quiet if...

GENERAL
That would be greatly appreciated.

FREEMAN (To General.)
But only if you acknowledge the genocide. (Pause.)

GENERAL
Only if there are icicles in hell, Sir.

FREEMAN
In which case, I would like to make the point that Mrs. Garabedian was an adult in 1915, well into her twenties. The General was quite adept at minimizing Mrs. Siroonian’s testimony because she was so young, but Mrs. Garabedian, you were already…?

ARPINE
I was married. I already had my own little…

MOURADIAN
Yah! I know her then, I am little boy.

ARPINE
My little princess.

PENSAR
Eh, bien. There you are, please do continue.

FREEMAN
Where were you and your family living in 1915 and what happen to you at that time?

ARPINE
Dibrik. My father was a successful merchant, he held important positions in the community, so did my husband. They helped a lot of poor people to…

GENERAL
To buy guns?

ARPINE
They were both fine, upstanding men…and they were hanged.

GENERAL (File in hand.)
Madame, was your father an insurrectionist? (To Goldsmith.) I’m obliged to ask this woman what were the roles of her father and husband in the insurrection. (Beat.) Regrettably, they were found guilty of treason during a time of…

ARPINE
My husband was a very gentle man. He was very well educated, a Yerospoghan, like a Senator in the United States, if you needed money for something…

GENERAL
For guns that killed so many innocent Muslims and brought the blind hand of justice down upon your own people. Did you know that your father confessed to…

ARPINE
That is not true.

FREEMAN
You have a signed confession here?

GENERAL
Many authentic documents are en route and that may well be among them. Oh, and yes, perhaps you did not know that it was your father who implicated your husband. He…

FREEMAN
Mrs. Garabedian, what was the first indication of something, well, out of the…

ARPINE
Turkish soldiers came like a tidal wave…it was insane. Killing, looting, burning homes. The whole city was crying. You could hear it the wailing of the young women at night, it was like a thousand broken bee hives. At the same time, we heard that all Armenians in the Turkish army were stripped of their guns, they were being used as common laborers, digging ditches and…

GENERAL
I myself have dug many ditches.

FREEMAN
And graves. (Beat.) You told us about the armory? Before?

ARPINE
Armory? Oh, yes, later, they herded us into a huge wooden armory. They brought dry hay. Soon smoke is everywhere . We hold onto each other, screaming…praying. (Pause.) Our prayers were answered. A military doctor. Put out that fire, he screamed at the soldiers. And then he said: They will stink up the city for weeks, you must stop burning people to death and then he screamed: Kill them differently!

GENERAL
Please, you were inside this huge armory with so many people praying and screaming and this military doctor was out in the street, how could you hear him say…

ARPINE
Oldermek farkli! Oldermek farkli! Those words will echo in my tomb. Kill different.

GOLDSMITH
Mrs. Garabedian? (Pause.) Do you wish to stop?

GENERAL
This is too much for her that would be best for all…

ARPINE
I did not want to come here at all.

FREEMAN MOURADIAN
You’re doing fine. You do good, yah, she do good..

ARPINE
They took all the old men into a high school. I stand out in the street with the others. We listen to the screams. We can hear the sound of the whipping and the bastinado, we…

GOLDSMITH
Bastinado?…Madame?

FREEMAN (To Goldsmith.) GENERAL
You don’t know? Shall I explain? It’s immaterial. We…

GENERAL
We cannot even be certain it was employed! Madame, I suggest…

FREEMAN
Oh, I hear it’s quite popular in Turkish prisons even today. The ankles of the victim are secured or lashed to a pole… Madame, please, I…

GENERAL (To Goldsmith.)
I can only ask that you consider the inflammatory nature…

GOLDSMITH
I will hear this, General. (To Freeman.) Up to a point.

FREEMAN
And the pole is held horizontally by two men, one at each end. When they lift it, the bottom of the victim’s feet are exposed to the executioner. The shoes of…

GENERAL
This is not an execution!

FREEMAN
They will often leave the victim’s shoes on for this little number. The executioner… (Freeman approaches Mouradian, reaches for his cane.) Excuse me, Sir, may I?

MOURADIAN (Clutches cane.)
You give back, yah?

FREEMAN (Takes the cane.)
Trust me. (Holds up the cane.) The executioner employs something like this, this length and shape, but probably made out of metal, for weight, make a better swing.

(Freeman stands near the General and takes a practice baseball swing.)

The executioner then swings the rod with great power and whips it across the bottom of the victim’s feet. The pain is terrible to begin with but as the whipping proceeds, with blow after blow…

(Freeman leans against the Ambassador’s conference table and begins to tap the cane against the bottom of one his own feet, in synch with his words.)

…the pain (Tap.) gets worse because the feet are being damaged, you see. (Tap.) And now the feet begin to swell from the constant beating. (Tap.) But they can’t, because they are trapped inside the shoes, remember? And the beating goes on. (Tap.) And on. (Tap.) And on. The beating goes on…(Tap.) until the feet eventually burst.

PENSAR
They burst? Grotesque!

FREEMAN (Returns cane to Mouradian.)
Burst. Throughout this process, the victim continues to scream. The sound of the bastinado is unmistakable. The screaming is maddening.

GENERAL (To Freeman.)
There were things done to the Vietnamese by Americans that would turn the stomach of any civilized human being, and you know that, you…

FREEMAN (To Arpine.)
I think you were saying, the women were standing outside, listening…

ARPINE
There is a blacksmith shop next to the high school. Soldiers take all the horseshoes, all the horseshoe nails. They pile them up next to the hearth. They force the blacksmith to pump the bellows. They aim a gun at him, and he pumps…he cries, the poor man, but he pumps, he pumps. Heating the horseshoes red hot.

GENERAL
Can we stop this?

ARPINE
Red hot they glow. They bring the men out. They have already been through a nightmare, naked, covered with blood that pours from toothless mouths, dirt, down onto their bellies in the dirt.

GENERAL
Incredible…

ARPINE
Soldiers hold their feet up so they can…and they…they…

GENERAL
I think it would be best for her if…

ARPINE
They nailed them!

GENERAL
Will someone please stop this.

ARPINE
They nailed those red-hot horseshoes into the bleeding feet of those men! You will all burn in hell for that! Oh, my God, I can still hear that scorching sound when the metal was pressed into their flesh, I can still…can you…can you smell that?

GENERAL
Smell?

HEINMAN (Goldsmith.)
Has this gone far enough?

FREEMAN
Ma’am, you mentioned you already had your first baby, can you…

ARPINE
Baby? Yes.Izabella. My princess. I was holding her. A soldier tickled her. She giggled. I remember thinking maybe he has a little baby at home, and he…he asked if he could hold her. I told him she would cry, and then she did just that, she started to cry and he told her to stop crying, why are you crying, little one, do you think the big, bad Turk would harm you, no, no, no, stop crying, little one, I said stop…

FREEMAN
Go on, please.

ARPINE
He took my little princess in one hand by the ankles, he wrenched her away from me, he swung her around singing some insane Turkish song and then he bashed her brains out against a rock. There, he said, she has stopped crying. She has stopped…

(Arpine drift off, cradles her arms, hums lullaby to imaginary baby.)

GENERAL
What is going on here?

FREEMAN
Mrs. Garabedian?

ARPINE (To Freeman.)
Don’t you think she’s beautiful?

FREEMAN
Uh…yeah, I, uh…

ARPINE GENERAL
Maybe just to me she’s…she does The woman is lost…
have her father’s ears. Such big ears

ANAHID (To Freeman.)
my baby has, but to me…she looks We should let her go.
like an angel who just left the arms

FREEMAN
of God, an angel He sent to us… Aprine? Mrs….Mrs. Garabedian?

ARPINE (Holds baby forth to Freeman.)
My little baby girl. Just 20 days old. Isn’t she beautiful?

PENSAR
Mon Dieu.

GENERAL
Madame, the poor woman is hallucinating. She’s repeating herself, rambling on and…She should be excused, she is not even here. (Beat.)

FREEMAN
She’ll be all right.

ANAHID
Are you blind? Look at her.

GENERAL
Mrs. Garabedian, do you know where you are? See? That look in her eyes?

ARPINE
He sends these little angels to teach us how to love.

ANAHID (To Freeman.)
Can’t you see what’s happening?

GENERAL
This is impossible. (To Goldsmith.) Madame, most humbly, may I suggest…I sincerely do not want to question this woman, she is…

ANAHID
Arpine, you can leave, you…

FREEMAN
Leave her alone. She’s just…

GOLDSMITH (To Arpine.)
Madame?

FREEMAN
Just a little emotional, we…

ANAHID
He will destroy her as he tried to do me. She is old, frail, she is…

FREEMAN (Stands.)
We have come this far. If you insist…

ANAHID
If I insist? (Freeman begins to jam files and papers back into his attache case. ANAHID rises, goes to Arpine.) We cannot let him do this.

GENERAL
My last word, that woman is in no condition to be in that witness chair. (Beat.) Please. If you do not have this woman stand down, I am obligated to…

ANAHID (Behind Arpine, hands on her shoulders.)
I’m here. (To Goldsmith.) Madame…

GOLDSMITH
You chose to be here.

GENERAL
Very well. Mrs. Garabedian. A tragic story, despair is a common experience during…

ARPINE
No, you do not speak to me of despair.

GENERAL
I could not help but think of my own daughter when she was just a little…

ARPINE
I saw an old woman.

GENERAL
Our princess.

ARPINE
Rags. Filthy.

GENERAL
I beg your…oh.

ARPINE
Stinking for lack of bathing. She had fallen. She could not get up. She knew, we all knew, the Turks were leaving the dead on the roadside, leaving them in the streets where they dropped. She began to dig in the dirt. Her fingernails were broken. I helped her. Her hands, her fingers were bleeding, but she did not make a sound. When the hole was big enough, she rolled her body into it and began to pull the dirt in on top of her. I helped her. When all that was showing was her face, she looked at me. She smiled. I put her shawl across her face. I covered it with dirt, patted it down. She didn’t want the wild dogs to mutilate her flesh. She wanted to meet God with…God forgive me, I helped her.

GENERAL
You were without blame, and it pains us to watch you relive this tragic memory. (To Freeman.) In fact, we deplore those who require that you endure this…
ARPINE
I still lay awake with her smile in the darkness. You do not speak to me of despair.
GENERAL
I truly wish it were not so. I wish also that I did not have to ask…your nsame – Garabedian – it is well known in Turkey, your ancestors, doctors, lawyers, teachers…my task is not an easy one, I…Madame, you still have relatives living in Turkey?
FREEMAN
He’s threatening her? (To Goldsmith.) Madame, he’s…
GENERAL
I knew this would happen, I had hoped, a foolish hope no doubt, that Mr. Freeman would relent even for one moment, but no, I was hoping we could come together for one precious moment to agree on what might be done to protect those people, but, no, not…
ARPINE
Protect, my brother, his wife? The children? I don’t…
GENERAL
With Allah as my witness, I threaten no one, my concern is for the welfare of your…(To Freeman.) You had to do this, didn’t you? (To Aprine.) Madame, this man does not care about you or your loved ones, he knew that by having you testify you would jeopardize them and he…
FREEMAN
That is not true! That’s…
GENERAL
They live among Muslim families who now watch their own children suffer, what can you expect of them? I will ask the local authorities to protect your family, but how long…how long can we…(To Freeman.) And you, Sir do not give a damn.
ANAHID
Let her go now!
FREEMAN
None of this would be necessary of you would just admit that…
GENERAL
Will you admit that you prompted this poor woman, you filled her head with terrifying distortions, you rehearsed this entire scene knowing full well what the consequences would be for her and her loved ones and then you dragged her in here and…
ANAHID
That’s a lie!
GENERAL
You would crucify this woman, you would sacrifice all of them just to win.
(Arpine clutches her belongings and rises.)
ARPINE
You leave them alone! Damn you!
MOURADIAN (Rises, waves cane.)
No! Do not go!
ANAHID
Let her go!
GENERAL (To Aprine.)
Speak the truth, Madame, they told you to tell these lies!
ARPINE (Tries to run out.)
Yes, yes, all lies!
MOURADIAN (Blocks her path.)
Do not let them drive you out again!
ARPINE
Let me go!
MOURADIAN
No! You will not run away! We do not run. No more, yah?
(Arpine, blocked, puts face and hands. Mouradian takes her to a seat.)
GOLDSMITH
Mr. Freeman, have you had enough of this?
FREEMAN (Folder in hand.)
Enough?
GOLDSMITH
Is that a question? Yes, enough. I am not an attorney, but it’s obvious you’re willing to crucify the old and the weak in order to achieve your objectives yet you keep those objectives a secret. To me, that is heartless, uncaring and cruel.
FREEMAN
And if the cause is just?
GOLDSMITH
Oh, I know what a just cause is, you cannot be a woman in my country today without knowing that.
FREEMAN
Nor can you be me, Madame. We have heard from only two survivors and they account for many who died under decidedly questionable circum…
GENERAL
I believe that by any sensible standard of judgment their testimony has been worthless in view of the fact that we are supposed to be here to help starving people.
FREEMAN
Speaking of starving people…(Holds up file of photos.) I have here a small sample of photographs that will horrify anyone with a grain of human decency or com…
HEINMAN PENSAR
One moment. Photographs?
GENERAL
Wonderful, he has photographs. Please, the Armenians have been circulating bogus, unauthenticated inflammatory literature and yes, photographs, for years now and…
FREEMAN (Advances on Committee.)
I’ll show you…
HEINMAN PENSAR
Wait! You will halt right there. May I…
GOLDSMITH (Rises, gavel.)
Did you hear Dr. Heinman? Not one more step, Sir!
HEINMAN
Those photos are authentic? Mister Freeman? Can you prove…
FREEMAN
Someone said this is not a court of law.
HEINMAN
And I say we are attempting to be a court of reason. Dr. Goldsmith?
GOLDSMITH
Put them away.
FREEMAN
But, Madame, we…
GOLDSMITH
Now.
FREEMAN (Puts down the folder.)
Would you question the authenticity of a report provided by Professor Anthony Merlino of Columbia University who until recently was a member of the UNFRA Committee holding these hearings in London. (Holds up report jacket.) I believe you know him?
GOLDSMITH
Don’t be coy, Mr. Freeman.
FREEMAN (To General.)
I meant you. General? You know this man? Merlino? Advanced degrees in History, Sociology, a recognized authority on population trends…
PENSAR
Very highly regarded, yes.
GENERAL
Scholars can be bought.
PENSAR
I beg your pardon?
FREEMAN
They can also be destroyed.
GENERAL
He is apparently on Mr. Freeman’s payroll, perhaps they hired him as a propagandist.
FREEMAN
I asked Dr. Merlino – on the basis of what was known of the Armenian population before the war – if they had never been touched or disturbed in any way, if they had been permitted to reproduce in a normal manner – I asked how many of them would be living in Turkey. I submit this report as evidence…
GENERAL
You cannot put that report under oath, can you? No. Produce this Merlino so we can…
FREEMAN
Professor Merlino was recalled. He’s back at Columbia trying to defend his job, thanks to the influence of the Turkish government. But of course, you know nothing of that.
GENERAL
We wish him well.
FREEMAN
Yeah, right, but his work will not have been in vain because on the basis of this report and on behalf of my clients, I contend that those dead people, those murdered Armenians, and all the babies and grandchildren that would have come from them in the last sixty-plus years, if they had been permitted to live…nine million, that’s the magic number…
GENERAL
Absolutely without foundation! Dr. Goldsmith!
FREEMAN
Nine million of the dead and never-born!
(Freeman quickly takes the census report off the Committee’s conference table.)
GOLDSMITH
Freeman, there are limits to my patience!
(Freeman slams the census report down in front of the General.)
FREEMAN
They’re all in here, aren’t they? You put them in here, the dead and the unborn.
GENERAL
I am not on trial here! Turkey is not on trial here!
HEINMAN
That is slander!
GOLDSMITH (Gavel. To Freeman.)
You have overstayed your welcome here!
FREEMAN
We demand that those dead and unborn Armenians be deducted from the 49 million population claimed by the Turkish Government in this bogus document.
(Freeman brings the census report back to place it squarely in front of Heinman.)
FREEMAN (Cont’d. To Heinman.)
You demanded relevance? I gave you relevance.
GOLDSMITH
Mr. Freeman, you are finished here.
ANAHID (Approaches Committee.)
No, please.
PENSAR (Holds up document.)
Dr. Goldsmith…
GOLDSMITH
Not a word, Rene.
FREEMAN PENSAR
Madame, please bear with me for a… Dr. Goldsmith…
GOLDSMITH (To Freeman.)
One more word of contention and I will lodge an official complaint with your ethics committee. You have just flown too close to the flame, Sir, and now you can…
(Anahid rushes to Pensar and picks up the document.)
ANAHID (Offers document to Goldsmith.)
Madame, please.
GOLDSMITH (Pushes document away.)
Ms. Siroonian, you will please…
ANAHID
We need Mr. Freeman…
GOLDSMITH (To Freeman.)
Your objectives have now become a matter of utter indifference to me , Sir, and…
ANAHID (Stops center.)
No! If we lose him…
FREEMAN
Madame, please…
ANAHID (. Addresses the press.)
We will be alone again.
GOLDSMITH
Miss Siroonian, sit down or…
ANAHID (To the press.)
May I read this to you?
GENERAL
What is she doing?
ANAHID
I will read this to you.
GOLDSMITH
You will not read anything here unless I…
ANAHID
This is an official letter from the minister of the interior to the governor of Aleppo.
GENERAL
Can you stop her?
ANAHID
September 15th, 1915.
GENERAL
Where fact ends…
ANAHID
“It was first communicated to you…
GENERAL
And fiction begins.
ANAHID
“…that the Ottoman Government…”
HEINMAN (To Anahid.)
Madame.
ANAHID
“…has decided to destroy completely…”
GENERAL
She is out of order!
ANAHID
“…all Armenians living in Turkey. An end…”
GENERAL
I do not want to hear this!
PENSAR
Be quiet!
ANAHID
“An end must be put to their existence, however criminal the measures taken. No regard must be paid to age, sex or conscientious scruple. Those who oppose us cannot remain on the official staff of the Empire. We also learn that some individuals are obtaining photographs and letters which represent tragic events and give them to the American Consul. They are to be arrested.” The letter is signed Minister of the Interior, Talaat.
(Silence. Anahid turns to face the Committee. She holds forth the document. Goldsmith stands, does not reach out for the document.)
ANAHID
However criminal the measures taken…
GENERAL
This is unpardonable. (Pause.) Madame, I respectfully request that profanity be deleted from the record of this hearing, and without any further waste of time…
GOLDSMITH (Gavel, stands)
We need to talk.
PENSAR (To General.)
However criminal…
GOLDSMITH (Moving away.)
Eric. Rene. I am calling a brief…
PENSAR
No regard for age or sex.
(Heinman and Goldsmith stop when they see that Pensar has not moved.)
GOLDSMITH
Professor Pensar.
PENSAR (Points at the document.)
Have you read that?
GOLDSMITH
I said we have to talk.
PENSAR
My question, Madame.
(Pensar does not move or respond. Goldsmith returns to Anahid. Anahid raises the hand in which she holds the document. Goldsmith takes it, starts to leave, stops to look at Pensar. Pensar finally follows.)
GENERAL (Stands abruptly.)
Madame! That document is not worth the…
GOLDSMITH (As she leaves.)
We are in recess. (Points at Freeman.) And we will decide your fate, Mr. Freeman.
(They exit. All still. Anahid looks throughout the audience, then goes to Mouradian.)
ANAHID
Is he here yet?
MOURADIAN
He will come.
FREEMAN
Who?
(They do not answer him. Lights down, lights out.)
End of Act I



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