Mass walk-out staged at Ottawa university to protest Genocide denial

Mass walk-out staged at Ottawa university to protest Genocide denial

PanARMENIAN.Net - Members of the Armenian Youth Federation of Canada (AYF Canada), in collaboration with the Armen Karo Student Association and the Armenian Students’ Association at Carleton University, conducted a mass walk-out at Carlton University last week to express their concern and indignation to the administration of Carleton University and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NSPIA), Asbarez reports.

The university’s administration and the NSPIA collaborated with the Council of Turkish Canadians (CTC)—an organization known to promote events denying the Armenian Genocide and present Turkish-Armenian issues in a divisive manner—to hold a two-day conference on Turkish-Canadian relations at the university.

The CTC organized the conference under the deceiving title of “Turkey-Canada Relations in Troubled Times,” when in actuality, the event promoted anti-Armenian sentiments. The organizers held a panel discussion, which included Professor Christopher Gunn of Coastal Carolina University and Lale Eskicioglu of Carleton University.

While Eskicioglu spoke about the Turkish claim of a small plot of the Brantford Mount Hope Cemetery that is allegedly dedicated to ethnic Turks, Gunn spoke about Secret Armenian Armies in the 1970’s and 1980’s—a topic that clearly diverged from the event’s supposed intent. The lecture focused on the actions of a small minority of Armenians outside of Canada, which contributed nothing to the discussion of Turkey-Canada relations.

Armenian attendees took part in the conference with the intent to give the speakers benefit of the doubt by listening to their presentations. Unfortunately, many pieces of inaccurate information were delivered. Representatives from the group politely questioned the validity of some of the remarks and statements by Gunn and Eskicioglu. It was later confirmed by Gunn that multiple points of his presentation were mere inferences, with no tangible evidence to support his claims.

“Carleton University, being one of the most prestigious universities in a country that strongly upholds human rights, justice, and democratic values, should not so willingly allow for such groups to stage events on its campus. In general, a university should be devoid of any affiliation to politically motivated agendas,” said Harout Kassabian, AYF Canada Chair.

Most of the ideas and opinions that were voiced during the panel clearly had underlying motives to create a false narrative in the attendees minds about the Armenian’s during the 20th century. The group was disappointed to learn that lecturers and attendees used the phrase “events of 1915” to refer to the Armenian Genocide; a common tactic by genocide deniers.

After the activists left the conference room in a mass walk-out, the group went on to the major intersections in downtown Ottawa to pass out flyers to the general public regarding Turkey’s human rights record, its denial of the Armenian Genocide, and why they should not be trusted as a NATO ally.

“Turkey has one the highest number of jailed journalists in the world and uses excessive force to silence protestors and other dissenters of the country, yet they are still regarded as Canadian allies. Furthermore, NATO has yet to speak out against Turkey’s human rights violations,” Sevag Belian of the Armenian Youth Federation said.

The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres and deportations, involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.

Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, Italy, 45 U.S. states, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Argentina, Belgium, Austria, Wales, Switzerland, Canada, Poland, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, the Vatican, Luxembourg, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Sweden, Venezuela, Slovakia, Syria, Vatican, as well as the European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.

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