ISTANBUL—An Armenian Genocide conference that was slated to begin on April 26 at Istanbul Bilgi University is being prevented from taking place, Agos reports.
The conference, titled “The Armenian Genocide: Concepts and Comparative Perspectives,” jointly organized by Istanbul Bilgi University, the History Foundation, and UCLA will now not take place at the venue it was initially planned for, Istanbul Bilgi University.
Despite being announced in March via the Bilgi University web site, a short while ago, the Dean’s Office announced to the organizers of the conference that this conference could not be held at the university. When a clear answer was not provided for the reason of the cancellation, organizers applied to the Rector’s Office, and received the same response. It is believed that the blocking of the conference is due to its subject matter. A new venue is being sought for the conference to be held under the same title.
In response to objections over the cancellation of the event, Bilgi University released a statement claiming that it is not true that the university has cancelled the aforementioned conference, but simply that an official request to organize the conference was never submitted to the rector’s office.
However, the conference organization team, in their statement to Agos, explained that the university’s statement did not reflect the truth and that the application for reserving the venue was made months ago. The statement reads, “In accordance with the official procedures of Bilgi University, first a venue reservation was made, and when the program of the event became clear, the event application was prepared, signed and presented to the events department under the General Secretary on 17 March 2015.” The team added that the conference had been announced on the events page of the university, but that it was then removed when they had been notified by e-mail that the venue reservation had been cancelled.
The conference organization team concluded their statement by saying, “The blocking of this conference, which we aimed to realize as a necessity of our profession, is an intervention to and breach of academic freedom and freedom of expression. This prevention unfortunately also harms the well-deserved, positive image of our university built over many years.”