April 19, 2006
UNIVERSITY- On April 17, 2006, over 200 students and members of the Armenian
community gathered to commemorate the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and to
look beyond the atrocity and to ask the question: What is next? Sponsored
by the generous support of AGBU and Dr. and Mrs. Levon Nazarian, the Harvard
Armenian Society invited renowned scholars Professors Vahakn Dadrian and
Taner Akcam to share their expertise in the subject.
Both lectures were captivating, as each speaker presented his research
through a unique perspective. Akcam argued that we must be weary of only
pursuing the goal of genocide recognition. “What we need is to ensure
that Turkey, today, stops violating human rights and though this starts
with recognition of the genocide, it does not stop there,” Akcam
argued. He went on to explain the implications the Armenian genocide has
had in the deliberation of admitting Turkey into the European Union. Akcam
skillfully tied together his research of the past with present day issues
which concern not only Armenians, but the international world.
Dadrian picked up where Akcam left off, by analyzing the legal aspects
of the genocide. He quoted numerous times when Turkish officials and military
leaders had questioned the treatment of the Armenians. Such comments were
recorded and documented by the Turks, Dadrian explained, but vanished
two decades after the genocide, only to be recently discovered. He also
raised the issue of amending Turkish and Armenian relations, and said,
“It is very difficult for a group of people who have adamantly believed
for the past 91 years that the Armenian massacres were not genocide, to
one day change their minds.” However, Dadrian illuminated the different
legal ways in which Turkey may be held responsible for their actions.
Professor Dadrian is currently the director of the Genocide Research,
at Zoryan Institute. He is an authority in the history of the Armenian
genocide and is also one of the most prolific researchers in his field.
Dadrian's research is considered to be the most comprehensive, due to
his mastery of many languages, including German, English, French, Turkish,
Ottoman Turkish, and Armenian.
Professor Akcam, one of Dadrian’s former students, is one of the
first Turkish academics to acknowledge and discuss openly the Armenian
Genocide by the Ottoman Turkish Government. He has published a variety
of books and articles on the Armenian Genocide, and is considered one
of the most versed researchers in the subject.
In honor of the speakers and all their accomplishments, Dr. Alan S. Counter,
Director of the Harvard Foundation, presented both speakers with a plaque
on behalf of the President and Deans of Harvard College.
In recognizing and discussing the Armenian Genocide, it is important to
not only acknowledge the past, but look to the future as well. Through
education and research, Armenians as a whole can become better prepared
to implement the changes necessary for better Armenian-Turkish relations.
Officers of the Harvard Armenian Society include Arie Zakaryan (co-President),
Nina Kouyoumdjian (co-President), Christine Megerdichian (vice-President),
Armen Yerevanian (Social Activities Chair), and Shant Hagopian (treasurer).
For more information, please email Nina Kouyoumdjian at firstname.lastname@example.org.