NEW YORK — In April, AGBU WebTalks released a group of five short videos in honor of the Armenian Genocide that explore its various phases and legacy. Ranging from historical precursors to the contemporary ramifications of genocide denial, the videos aim to provide new, innovative learning tools by making the research of preeminent scholars, thinkers and writers accessible to the widest possible audience. Future videos will incorporate other phases of Armenian history-ancient and modern-as well as special aspects of Armenian culture.
“Our goal with this group of videos is to educate and encourage a more informed international dialogue around topics in genocide studies. We hope that these videos will be used not only for self-instruction, but also in classrooms and at community events to inspire a new perspective on discussions of genocide, offering food for thought on how to grapple with genocide in the decades to come,” said AGBU Central Board Member Lena Sarkissian. Sarkissian is also the Director of Program Development at the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights at the Zoryan Institute, which collaborated with AGBU on the production of this group of videos.
AGBU WebTalks feature the insights of engaging, dynamic thinkers from around the world, speaking on a wide range of Armenian topics. With these videos, AGBU WebTalks also seeks to create a rich repository of knowledge and provide easy access to reliable information to meet the demands of an increasingly connected and visual world.
French Armenian historian Raymond Kévorkian explains the political atmosphere and the events that preceded the Armenian Genocide in “The Political Atmosphere Preceding the Genocide.” A combination of factors-social and economic developments, the cultural renaissance of the Armenians just before World War I, their economic weight in the Ottoman Empire and finally their identity as Christians and non-Turkish people caught in a struggle for political power-contributed to the development of policies by the newly formed Turkish government to drive them out of the new republic. Kévorkian adds his expertise with another video, “The Events of April 24, 1915,” in which he describes the night when Turkish authorities arrested approximately 260 Armenian intellectuals and political leaders.
In “Defining an Undeniable Genocide,” legal scholar Hannibal Travis of the Florida International University College of Law discusses the lack of accountability for genocide throughout the 20th century and the limitations of international courts in providing protection and deterrence. In the case of Turkey, the state’s denial of the Armenian Genocide to this day contributes to the ongoing patterns of human rights violations and economic and cultural discrimination against its minority populations.
Journalists and authors Laure Marchand, former foreign correspondent for Le Figaro, and Guillaume Perrier, former correspondent for Le Monde, speak about their first encounter with Turkey’s hidden Armenian past upon their arrival in Istanbul in 2005 in “The Armenian Ghost in Turkey.” The tensions that fueled Turkey’s first open and official academic debate of the Armenian Genocide and the events that followed over the ten years in which they lived and worked in the country as foreign correspondents, inspired their award-winning book Turkey and the Armenian Ghost. Here, they touch upon the major themes of their book and the “ghosts” of hidden Armenians who have lived in the shadow of a government in denial of its past for the last one hundred years.
In “The Importance of Genocide Recognition,” attorney and founder of Doughty Street Chambers, the UK’s largest human rights practice, Geoffrey Robertson explores the value of acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. He argues that recognition helps to develop the study of genocides around the world and traces the legal concept of genocide, pinning its classification to racial and/or ethnic motives. Robertson also explains the distinction between the roles of lawyers and historians in the study of genocide and emphasizes the responsibility of Turkey to provide reparations to the families of victims of the Armenian Genocide.
AGBU WebTalks debuted in January 2016 with five videos, produced in partnership with the Zoryan Institute, an international academic and scholarly center devoted to the documentation, study and dissemination of material related to issues of universal human rights, genocide, diasporas and Armenia. Since February, videos on art and music have been added and many more on a wide variety of topics are currently in production.
To learn more about the AGBU WebTalks series and to watch the videos mentioned above, please visit www.agbuwebtalks.org.