TORONTO — Mr. Stuart Murray, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), and Dr. Hayk Demoyan, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum Institute (AGMI) of the National Academy of Sciences, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today that will facilitate collaboration for the promotion of human rights through joint projects and education.
The CMHR and the AGMI will exchange knowledge and expertise, educational materials, and exhibitions with respect to human rights, share research and advice, cooperate to advance the academic study of human rights and reconciliation, the Armenian Genocide and its effects, and processes seeking justice and reconciliation, and work together to educate people on issues of human rights, in both national and global contexts.
“Respect and protection for human rights is hard to build, but easy to destroy. Every society that embraces human rights has to be continually vigilant to promote and protect those human rights,” Mr. Murray said. “We are very pleased to be joining hands with the Armenian Genocide Museum Institute to promote education, awareness and dialogue about human rights.”
The official signing of the MOU between the CMHR and AGMI has been facilitated by the assistance of the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (A Division of the Zoryan Institute of Canada) – a Canadian organization which advances scholarship and public awareness relating to issues of universal human rights, genocide, and diaspora-homeland relations. Representatives of the IIGHRS officially witnessed the signing and will serve an ongoing role as liaison and facilitators.
“The Armenian Genocide is an important human rights story,” said Dr. Demoyan. “The concept of crimes against humanity was developed in response to this horrific series of violations against the Armenian people. The intent of the Ottoman Turkish government to annihilate its Armenian citizens is not only a crime against humanity, but also genocide. The denial of the genocide by the inheritors of the perpetrator state and others is itself a violation of the human rights of the survivors and their descendants. This partnership will help bring the story of the Armenian Genocide to a wider audience, to the benefit of generations to come.”
During and after the First World War, the leaders of the Ottoman Empire (the forerunner of the modern-day Republic of Turkey) made a brutal attempt to destroy the empire’s entire Armenian population, targeting them on ethnic and religious grounds, along with other Christian subjects-the Assyrians and Greeks. The Genocide began in 1915 with the execution of Armenian leaders. Then authorities rounded up Armenian men, women and children. The victims were massacred or forced on death marches through the desert. Many died of starvation. The perpetrators tried to hide these mass killings from the world.
The first international reaction to the Genocide resulted in a joint statement by France, Russia and Great Britain, in May 1915, where the Ottoman Empire atrocities directed against the Armenian people was defined as “new crimes against humanity and civilization.” In 2004, the Canadian House of Commons passed a resolution to recognize this genocide.
“By raising awareness of the Armenian Genocide, we hope to remind people of the importance of breaking the silence on human rights violations. We look forward to working with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on this goal,” said AGMI Director Demoyan.