Progressive Politics Conference Returns

Armenians & Progressive Politics -- 2014: The Road to Justice

Plenary to feature Noam Chomsky

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The Armenians and Progressive Politics conference returns to the Boston area this year with the theme, “The Road to Justice.” With discussions on Turkish politics, the media, Turkish-Armenian relations, and reparations, the conference will be held on Friday, September 26, and Saturday, September 27, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Friday night’s plenary session will feature intellectual and activist Noam Chomsky in conversation with Alternative Radio’s David Barsamian. Topics to be discussed include Turkish politics and social movements, the Gezi Park protests, and imperialism. Turkey’s failure to come to terms with its history and human rights record, particularly with regard to the Armenian Genocide and the Kurdish question, will also be examined. The plenary will take place in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium from 7:30-10:30 pm.

Levon Chorbajian, Carla Garapedian, and Aris Nalci will explore aspects of the media, including public relations, propaganda, and ownership, in the first of three panels on Saturday.

Turkey has been highly successful in distributing its narrative, often through professional public relations firms; despite having the advantage of historical truth, Armenians have not. The media often fails to present the Armenian Genocide as fact. Why? Does the U.S. mainstream media frame the issue as a controversy due solely to Turkish pressure, or are American foreign policy and corporate interests responsible?

Turkish-Armenian relations have myriad aspects, including “reconciliation groups” and other civil society exchanges promoted by the U.S. State Department. Are these initiatives in the interests of Armenia and Armenians?

Additionally, progressive Turkish academics, writers and activists have been instrumental in initiating discussion of the Armenian Genocide within Turkey, especially following the murder of Hrant Dink. Have any gone beyond calls for recognition of the Armenian Genocide; that is, have any demanded justice in the form of restitution and reparations? What can and should Armenians expect from them?

The Turkish-Armenian relations panel will also consider denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish state and others. Denial is becoming more sophisticated, as evidenced by Prime Minister Erdogan’s statement this past April about “shared pain.”

The panel will include Bilgin Ayata, Peter Balakian, and Marc Mamigonian.

The reparations panel will examine possible legal channels and strategies Armenians might pursue to reclaim land and property stolen during the Armenian Genocide, looking at other cases in which reparations were paid. Panelists will discuss what was taken, its value today, pertinent international treaties and laws, and appropriate forums such as the International Court of Justice.

In addition to demanding reparations and restitution from Turkey, panelists will also consider whether Armenians should pursue reparations from all those nations and corporations who benefitted from the Armenian Genocide. If one believes that the Armenian Genocide did not end in 1923, but continues to this day, are those nations who ally themselves with Turkey colluding in the perpetration of the genocide?

With the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide approaching, panelists Umit Kurt, Edvin Minassian, and Thomas Samuelian will highlight these timely questions.

A discussion entitled, “Where do we go from here” will conclude the 2014 conference. Saturday’s panels will be held in MIT Building 6, lecture room 120, from 10:00 am-6:00 pm.

Initiated in 2006, APP is a project of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Eastern USA. This year’s conference is co-sponsored by Alternative Radio, as well as the MIT Armenian Society.

All events are free and open to the public. For additional details, please visit


Opening Night Plenary: A Conversation with Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian
Intellectual and activist Noam Chomsky will discuss Turkish politics, social movements, human rights, history and imperialism with Alternative Radio’s David Barsamian.
Friday night, September 26, 2014, 7:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Kresge Auditorium

Saturday Panels
Saturday, September 27, 2014, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location: MIT Building 6, lecture room 120

Panel 1: The Media: Creating a Narrative
Panelists will examine how Turkish and Armenian issues are framed by the mainstream media, which often fails to present the Armenian Genocide as fact; they will address whether this is due to Turkish pressure or if American foreign policy and corporate interests are responsible.
Time: 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Levon Chorbajian: Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Carla Garapedian: Filmmaker; Project Leader, AFF Armenian Genocide archive, Shoah Foundation
Aris Nalci: Journalist; Programmer, IMC-TV, Turkey
Moderator: Laura Boghosian

Panel 2: Turkish-Armenian Relations: From Civil Society Exchanges to State Denial
Reconciliation groups, the actions of Turkish progressives, and Turkish state-sponsored denial will be some of the topics discussed by this panel.
Time: 11:45 am – 1:15 pm
Bilgin Ayata: Lecturer, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Marc Mamigonian: Director of Academic Affairs, NAASR
Peter Balakian: Professor, Colgate University
Moderator: Khatchig Mouradian

Panel 3: Reparations for the Armenian Genocide
This panel will look at the possible legal channels and strategies Armenians might pursue to reclaim land and property stolen during the Armenian Genocide.
Time: 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Ümit Kurt: PhD Candidate, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University
Edvin Minassian: Attorney; Armenian Bar Association
Thomas Samuelian: Dean, American University of Armenia; Attorney, Arlex Intl. (Yerevan)
Moderator: Henry Theriault

Closing Discussion: Where Do We Go From Here?
Time: 4:15 pm – 6:00 pm
Panelists to be announced
Moderator: Dikran Kaligian


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