Dr. Taner Akçam

Dr. Taner Akçam Speaks at Providence Genocide Commemoration

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Armenian Martyrs’ Memorial Committee of Rhode Island hosted two important events commemorating the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 29-30.

The weekend began with a panel discussion with Dr. Taner Akçam on Saturday, April 29, at the Providence Marriott Downtown. Akçam was joined by panelists consisting of Armenian Weekly columnist Stepan Piligian, who also served as moderator, George Aghjayan, director of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Archives and member of the ARF Central Committee of the Eastern US, and Hrag Arakelian, chairman of the ARF Providence “Kristapor” Gomideh and member of the Armenian National Committee of RI.

The discussion centered on past and present Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide. Akçam shared a slide presentation and presented a strong and convincing argument that Turkey’s denial on Genocide fuels the politics of continuing aggression, both inside and outside of Turkey today. One does not have to look too far to see the atrocities taking place today in Artsakh and to some extent Armenia by Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan.

Following the lecture, the entire panel weighed in on two specific topics of interest: how Turkish denial actively manifests itself today as it relates to the diaspora, Armenia, and Artsakh and how to respond to denial campaigns with advocacy and what are the challenges. This proved to be an educational session where the panel was able to bridge the past with current events today.

The afternoon concluded with a lively question and answer segment with the audience’s participation.

Scouts at the Armenian Genocide commemoration program

On Sunday, April 30, in the Sanctuary of Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church, the 108th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide took place with a service of Remembrance of the Holy Martyrs with Melanie Zeitounian as emcee. A large procession commenced with flag bearers, clergy, invited guests and wreath presenters surrounded by able-bodied honor guards as a beautiful hymn was sung by choir members of the three local Armenian churches under the capable direction of Konstantin Petrossian.

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Officiating clergy Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, Rev. Shnork Souin, Rev. Dr. Ara Heghinian, and Rev. Hagop Manjelikian conducted a service for the Holy Martyrs with the able assistance of deacons and service participants from Armenian Evangelical Church, Saints Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church and Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church. It began with “The Lord’s Prayer” (“Hayr Mer”) being recited by the clergy and all those present; readings from St Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews and the Holy Gospel according to St. Paul; the Litany of The Saints and concluding with the singing of “The Lord’s Prayer” by the choir and congregation. In addition, soloist Joanne Mouradjian sang a beautiful rendition of Hrashatsan Bagootsmamp to the Holy Martyrs.

Akçam also served as the keynote speaker where he delivered a riveting speech to an audience of approximately 250 individuals. The focus of Akçam’s address was to replicate what the Jewish people did with Nazi Germany on reparations and restitution. With President Biden’s statement on Armenian Remembrance Day acknowledging the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman authorities on April 24, 1915, now is the time to focus on reparations and restitution with Turkey. Following the guest speaker were the Armenian School children of Saints Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church and Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church where they sung Ov Hayots Kacher/Hayer Miatsek under the direction of Director Raffi Rachdouni.

There were a few elected officials invited to speak at the Commemoration to say a few words including: the 39th Mayor of Providence, Brett Smiley who welcomed the community to the City of Providence, Gov. Dan McKee, and United States Senator Jack Reed. There were several other political leaders in the audience who were recognized individually.

Akçam is a historian and sociologist and one of the first Turkish intellectuals to acknowledge and openly discuss the Armenian Genocide. In 2002, Clark University established the first-ever endowed chair in Modern Armenian History and Armenian Genocide Studies through the generosity of the Kaloosdian and Mugar families, and in 2008, Akçam became the first Kaloosdian Mugar Professor. An internationally recognized human rights activist, he has been an outspoken advocate of democracy and free expression since his student days at Middle Technical University in Ankara. Akçam received his doctorate in 1996 from the University of Hannover. He moved to the United States in 2000 and served as a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan for one year followed by visiting associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota from 2002-2008. Currently, he is the inaugural director of the Armenian Genocide Research

Program housed at the UCLA Promise Armenian Institute. Dr. Akçam has authored many books on the Armenian Genocide and most recently released “The Genocide of the Christian Populations in the Ottoman Empire and its Aftermath (1908-1923) (Mass Violence in Modern History)”.

 

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