YEREVAN — The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) began a conference of its members in Yerevan on Wednesday, underscoring its strong support for greater international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
The five-day forum titled “Comparative Analysis of 20th Century Genocides” is attended by some 180 scholars from around the world specializing in research of crimes against humanity and seeking the prevention of more such atrocities.
“2015 is an important year for all Armenians worldwide in terms of commemoration of the centennial of the beginning of the Armenian genocide,” the IAGS said last year in a statement announcing the venue of its 12th meeting.
“The Armenian genocide is sometimes considered as the first genocide of the 20th century and in many ways served as a template for subsequent genocidal crimes,” it said. “2015 is also is the year of 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the Holocaust.”
“Therefore, it is a significant time to analyze both crimes and all genocides of the 20th century in global and comparative perspectives,” added the association founded in 1994.
The International Association of Genocide Scholars recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1997 and received the RA President’s prize for its significant contribution to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in 2010.
IAGS is the leading and the largest organization of scholars studying genocide and crimes against humanity. The association was founded in 1994 by famous scholars Israel Charny, Helen Fein, Robert Melson, Roger Smith and today it unites more than 500 scholars from around the world. The association aims to investigate and teach the causes of genocides in the world in order to prevent the genocides in the future. The Armenian Genocide has always been in the focus of genocide studies by the members of IAGS.
The IAGS conference is taking place under the auspices of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in Yerevan. President Serzh Sarkisian underlined its significance for the Armenian government with a speech at the opening session of the forum.
“One hundred years have passed since the Armenian genocide but nothing has been forgotten,” said Sarkisian. “We have also not forgotten those intellectuals, scholars and humanists who … have shed light on the crime committed 100 years ago, making sure that it is not veiled by time.”
“The international fight against the crime of genocide should adopt a new scale, get a new content and use all possible platforms”, president Sarkisian said .
Sarkisian went on to thank Pope Francis, other world leaders and foreign states who publicly described the 1915 slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians as genocide shortly before or after the April 24 ceremonies in Armenia that marked its centenary. “It is in this context that I regard your decision to hold your conference in Armenia in this important year of commemoration,” he said.
The IAGS, which unites over 500 mostly Western scholars, has been openly urging more nations to recognize the Armenian genocide since 2007. “The historical record on the Armenian Genocide is unambiguous and documented by overwhelming evidence,” it said in a 2007 letter to members of the U.S. Congress.