Published: Wednesday October 31, 2012

Prof. Akcam signs copies of his new book.

New York - For decades, Ottoman Empire archives have been central
to Armenian Genocide studies, and few scholars know those annals of
history as well as Taner Akcam.

One of Turkey's first academics to publicly acknowledge and discuss
the genocide, Akcam is a leading authority on the subject whose work
has been published internationally.

His latest book, "The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity: The
Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire," which
sheds new light on one of the darkest periods in Armenian history,
was presented at a New York event co-sponsored by AGBU Ararat.

On October 18, a crowd over 120 gathered in the Eastern Diocese of
the Armenian Church of America in New York to hear Akcam introduce
his recent publication, which is filled with some 600 once-classified
Ottoman-era documents. Before Akcam took the podium, Diocesan Council
chair Oscar Tatosian delivered the welcoming remarks. He applauded
both Akcam and Peter Balakian, the award-winning poet and author who
introduced the lecture, stating, "neither man is a stranger to the
Diocesan Center. That's because this center has been the true hub
of our community over its four decades of existence. So many great
and influential figures of our generation - Armenian and otherwise -
have come here, to meet the people, and address our concerns. Tonight
is no exception."

Balakian, who himself has been praised as a leading voice for Armenian
Genocide advocacy, was next to take the microphone. He recounted
Akcam's student activism on behalf of Turkey's minorities, which
resulted in his 10-year prison sentence in 1976 - a term cut short
by his unlikely escape to Germany, where he began his groundbreaking
research on Turkish nationalism. As Balakian explained, while Armenian
Genocide scholarship has increased in recent years, what has been
missing is a Turkish voice. Akcam's dozens of articles and several
books, Balakian stressed, have "helped to add that crucial piece
to the evolving discourse on the Armenian Genocide...and opened up
courageous spaces for young Turkish scholars who see the work he's
done and begin to find their own way into their own country's past."

A critical look of the past is exactly what "The Young Turks' Crime
Against Humanity" provides through Akcam's analysis of scores of
original Ottoman telegraphs and internal memos. They make the case,
Akcam reiterated throughout the evening, not only for the Armenian
Genocide, but for the well-orchestrated plan to resettle and assimilate
Armenians, as well. As Akcam pointed to decoded texts, he presented one
of the book's central arguments: that population statistics was a main
component of a "genocidal process." By establishing this link between
demographic policy and the atrocities committed against Armenians at
the turn of the 20th century, Akcam has placed his work once again at
the forefront of genocide studies. The audience, who engaged Akcam
with a series of questions and comments following his presentation,
made this clear.

Attendees also had the opportunity to speak with Akcam at a
reception immediately after his talk. Very Reverend Father Simeon
Odabashian ended the event, noting that the Diocese was honored to
bring together two great intellectuals and thanking the evening's
sponsors, AGBU Ararat, C.A.R.S., Eseyan-Getronagan Alumni, Hye Doon,
the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, the Tekeyan Cultural Association,
and Tibrevank Alumni.

Akcam also gave a talk at St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, New
Jersey, the following evening, which was co-sponsored by AGBU Ararat
once again, the church and a number of local Armenian organizations.

Established in 1906, AGBU (www.agbu.org) is the world's largest
non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City,
AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through
educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching
the lives of some 400,000 Armenians around the world.