José Antonio Gurriarán is a renowned Spanish journalist who had interviewed Salvador Dali, Indira Gandhi, and Jacqueline Kennedy back in the days. He himself thinks that he ideologically matured in the 1980s when a terrorist attack motivated him to study the question of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
On December 29, 1980, José Antonio Gurriarán left the editorial office earlier than usual: he along with his wife planned to go to the cinema to watch the new film of Woody Allen. Suddenly, they heard an explosion on their way. As an experienced journalist, Gurriarán immediately called the office to report the incident. Another explosion occurred at the moment, which cost Gurriarán his leg.
The journalist’s fight for life would last for quite a long time. “I have gone through the most brutal and at the same time interesting situation as I have sensed the cold of death very up-close”, would remark Gurriarán.
After recovery, Gurriarán learned that the military organization Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) was behind the terrorist attack. At the time, the journalist knew nothing about ASALA, about the Armenians, or about their country Armenia.
After the attack, Gurriarán developed the Stockholm syndrome, a condition in which the “victim” sympathizes the captors. The journalist became strongly interested in the motives and activity of ASALA. He would conduct in-depth research and even meet its members in Lebanon.
“I met the fighters of ASALA. They came to the meeting masked and armed with AKs. I gifted their leader with a book by Martin Luther King, thinking that he would muse about the path that he had chosen,” tells Gurriarán.
Sometime later, the journalist began to make contacts with the Armenians of Spain. According to Gurriarán, they were feeling guilty, saying that the Armenians are peaceful in reality. Some presented him with books about the Armenian history. José Antonio Gurriarán became a good friend of the Armenians.
“I found out that according to official data, around 50.000 Armenians live in Spain. Unofficially, the numbers are about 80.000. Each of them has their own past connected with the Genocide,” says Gurriarán.
Over the last 30 years, Gurriarán has been studying the Armenian Genocide, condemning the Young Turks for their crime and calling Turkey to acknowledge the Genocide. He votes for the acknowledgment of the Genocide in Spain. He thinks that the reason for the silence in the question of this crime is the international egoism.
“The Turkish government turns a blind eye on this. They don’t have the courage to recognize the acts of their ancestors. In spite of this, there is intelligentsia in Turkey that condemns the Genocide, for example, Orhan Pamuk and Taner Akçam,” says Gurriarán.
Gurriarán is opposed to the entry of Turkey into the European Union. He thinks that as long as the Genocide isn’t recognized, Turkey doesn’t have any right to join the club of civilized and democratic nations.
Armenians and Armenia touched Gurriarán to the core. He considers them educated, hardworking people who have a wealthy culture. He authored two books: “La bomba” and “Armenians: the forgotten genocide”. French-Armenian filmmaker Robert Gedikian would base his film “The story of a madman” on the latter book of Gurriarán. This film would be demonstrated at the Festival de Cannes.