Genocide Denial in Texas University Exposed

DALLAS–On Saturday, April 14, 2007 the Armenian community of Texas rapidly mobilized to counter Genocide denial in their own university system. A conference on Turkish-Armenian Dialogue (officially entitled International Conference on Turkish-Armenian Dialogue) slated to take place at Southern Methodist University (SMU) was discovered early last week by the ANC of Texas. Similar to the UT-Austin conference two weeks ago entitled Ottoman Diversity and Mulitculturalism, the conference was an all day event. As the conference was to take place in their backyards, activists in Texas set out set the record straight on the conference and its purpose. With local, regional and national collaboration involving grassroots activists, the ANCA, ANCA-WR, and the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church joined forces with the Armenian community of Texas to counter the attempts of genocide denial making inroads at SMU and the university system of North Texas. These attempts by genocide denialists coincide with local efforts to build support for the Armenian genocide resolution, H. Res. 106 which awaits a vote in the U.S. Congress. In a few short days, these combined efforts, buttressed by an ANCA action alert asking activists from across the nation to contact SMU requesting that the university withdraw its support regarding this misleading conference, resulted in an official withdrawal of all credible speakers and the removal of SMU sponsorship of the genocide-denial masked as dialogue event. No local, national or international Armenian presence was invited to the event, except for the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, who is bound under the repressive laws of the Republic of Turkey, including Article 301 under which Hrant Dink was charged and convicted prior to assassination this year in Istanbul. Local Armenia’s achieved official withdrawal of SMUs Office of the Chaplain and University Ministries sponsorship and the Chaplain to the University, Dr. William M. Finnin, Jr. Several other speakers also withdrew per learning that the speakers list of the conference included many denialists. Community and ANCA activists ventured into the conference itself, opening the very beginning of the conference by expressing disapproval from within the audience for all attendees to hear. Activists delivered statemen’s which highlighted the lack of Armenian participation in an event billed as dialogue which concealed genocide denial agendas, Article 301 which acted to prevent the only Armenian presence on the panel and general anti-Armenian propaganda. The organizers were unable to cite a single Armenian community member, religious figures outside Turkey or scholars who were notified of the event. The official letter of withdrawal by William M. Finnin, Office of the University Chaplain was read by a Texas Armenian ANC activist to all attendees present in an audience numbering 400 people. Additionally, the organizers attempted to intimidate a local North Texas professor of Armenian origin who calmly and professionally asked a question about whether the written questions were filtered. When the organizers turned the security on this professor, other attendees at the conference voiced loud disapproval at the questionable treatment of a Texas Armenian professor in a conference labeled as a dialogue. During a lecture on the Armenian Identity in Diaspora by Turkish sociologist Dr. Huseyin Cakillikoyak, the Armenian Genocide was outright denied three times in addition to the damage of the deportations. The Diaspora identity in the US was defamed unabashedly and one Texas Armenian silently turned their chair around to the speaker to silently show the backwards nature of the discussion at hand. Most voted with their feet, and all efforts were successfully made to reveal the charade of genocide denial masked in academic speech. The Armenian community of Texas will continue to coordinate efforts locally and beyond to pursue the truthful, just path of official recognition of the Armenian genocide through H. Res. 106 and shall remain vigilant regarding the coordinated efforts of the Turkish government to fund genocide denial propaganda conferences at universities and or on Capitol Hill. The Armenian National Committee of America is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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