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California math professor making film about Armenian Genocide survivor

California math professor making film about Armenian Genocide survivor

PanARMENIAN.Net - A California resident, Barbara Erysian tells the story of how her grandmother survived the Armenian Genocide in a new movie, The Press Tribune reports.

Erysian doesn’t remember the first time she heard the story , but the details — a man buried alive, children orphaned and starving, a global migration to escape the extermination of 1.5 million fellow Armenians — never left her.

A Granite Bay resident, she heard the story from her grandmother Alice Zerahian many times growing up. It was autobiographical, and always ended with a plea: “Tell your children. Tell your children’s children. Never forget.”

Now 55, Erysian knows she is descended from a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, in which the Ottoman Empire targeted a religious minority for annihilation by executions, death marches and other brutal tactics between 1914 and 1923. Taking her grandmother’s plea to heart, she has launched into a years-long process of turning Alice Zerahian’s story into a movie.

Zerahian immigrated from Armenia to Massachusetts in the early 1920s and then moved to Fresno, where Erysian remembers spending time with her on holidays and week-long summer visits. As a math professor at Sierra College since 2004, Erysian hadn’t had much occasion to revisit her grandmother’s story until she saw TV reports of ISIS activity in 2013, and it stirred something in her memory.

“I felt that people should know somehow, and understand, this persecution is not a new thing — that this has been going on in that region for a very long time,” she said. “As a child I did not even understand what (my grandmother) was telling me, but she would tell me the story repeatedly, and it laid on my heart. Four years ago, I just realized that (sharing it) was something I needed to do.”

Some three dozen countries, hundreds of local government bodies and international organizations have so far recognized the killings of 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as Genocide.

Turkey denies to this day.

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