"May I Go Blind" is based off of the trial of Soghomon Tehlirian who murdered the former Turkish Grand Vizir, Talaat Pasha on March 15, 1921. Tehlirian, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide and subsequent member of a group of Armenian assassins called “Operation Nemeis”, held Taalat Pasha responsible for the deaths of his family because it was the Grand Vizir who decreed that all Armenians should be relocated and disposed of.
In broad daylight and in front of many witnesses in Berlin, Tehlirian walked up to Taalat Pasha on a busy street and shot and killed him. Tehlirian was tried for murder, but was eventually acquitted by the German court (ironically this was the same year that Hitler became the leader of the Nazi Party and only 18 years before the genocide of the Jewish population during WWII).
The trial examined not only Tehlirian’s actions but also Tehlirian's conviction that Talaat Pasha was the main author of the Armenian Genocide. The defense attorneys made no attempt to deny the fact that Tehlirian had killed a man, and instead focused on the influence of the Armenian Genocide on Tehlirian's mental state. It took the jury slightly over an hour to render a verdict of "not guilty" on grounds of temporary insanity.
The title, May I Go Blind, is a quote from the first day of trial when Tehlirian said that after being ordered to leave their home and put in a caravan of people, that they were attacked and robbed by Turkish soldiers and the Turkish population of Erzinga. His entire family was killed in front of him and at one point, his mother cried out “May I go blind”, when the Turkish gendarmes grabbed his sister intending to rape and kill her (which they did).
This animation attempts to illustrate specific moments that Tehlirian addressed in his testimony related to his personal experience as well as the overwhelmingly emotional nature associated with the experience of genocide, survival, revenge, and heroism.
Written, Produced and Directed by Leah Bedrosian Peterson
Animation Direction and Lead Animation by Christina Moliterno
Illustrations by Antonia Crook-Perez
Music: Yeraz (Provenance) by Hooshere Bezdikian