FRESNO — On Wednesday 18, the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Lecture will hold a panel discussion “Man’s Inhumanity to Man—the Last Hundred Years”, including Taner Akçam, Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Constantine Orbelian, and Rabbi Kenneth Segel. The discussion will focus on the Armenian Genocide and issues ranging from reconciliation to Armenian contributions to American culture, arts and sciences. The lecture will take place at the Saroyan Theater and begin at 10:30am. Admission is $30. For tickets call, 559-444-2180 or go to www.valleytownhall.com.
Taner Akçam is a Turkish-born historian whose courageous scholarly work on the Armenian Genocide has been readily welcomed and honored by Armenians throughout the world. Published in 2006, his history “A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and The Question of Turkish Responsibility” validated his status as one of the leading authorities on the subject. Because of his outspoken dissent toward the official denialist policy of the Republic of Turkey, he continually receives death threats from Turkish ultra-nationalist as well as persecution from Turkish authorities. In the mid-1970s he was arrested for his protest over Turkey’s treatment of its Kurdish minority and afterwards named as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. His escape from prison led him to Germany where he eventually became student of genocide scholar Vahakn Dadrian, receiving his PhD from the University of Hanover in 1995. He joined the faculty at Clark University in 2008 and has served as visiting professor at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at University of Minnesota.
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian is the Diocesan Legate and Director of the Ecumenical Office in Washington D.C. for the Armenian Church in America. He is a member of the board of the World Council of Churches. Born in Turkey, he was ordained a bishop in 1992 by His Holiness Vasken I, the late Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians. Archbishop Aykazian holds a Ph.D. in history and is working on a second Ph.D. in theology at Catholic University in Washington.
Constantine Orbelian is the first American to become artistic and musical director of an ensemble in Russia, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and guest conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic. In 2001, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, an award given to immigrants, or children of immigrants, who have made outstanding contributions to the United States. Three years later, President Putin awarded Orbelian the coveted title “Honored Artist of Russia,” a title never before bestowed on a non-Russian citizen.
Rabbi Kenneth Segel is a leader in the Jewish community. For five years he was the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel, Fresno. Rabbi Segel is an active humanitarian and the author of several children’s books.
The valley Town Hall lecture is part of a series of activities promoted by the Armenian Genocide Centennial—Fresno Committee, which includes representatives from the religious, educational, social, and political organizations of the Central Valley. The group’s goals are to commemorate the 1.5 million martyrs who perished at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish Government; to educate others about the Armenian Genocide and historical injustice; and to inspire people to overcome adversity through the story of the survivors’ of the Armenian Genocide. For more information, visit the AGC—Fresno Committee’s website at www.agcfresno.org and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/agcfresno.