The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) began a conference of its members in Yerevan on Wednesday, underscoring its strong support for greater international recognition ofthe 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
The five-day forum titled “Comparative Analysis of 20th Century Genocides” is attended by some 180 scholars from around the world specializing in research of crimes against humanity and seeking the prevention of more such atrocities.
“2015 is an important year for all Armenians worldwide in terms of commemoration of the centennial of the beginning of the Armenian genocide,” the IAGS said last year in a statement announcing the venue of its 12th meeting.
“The Armenian genocide is sometimes considered as the first genocide of the 20th century and in many ways served as a template for subsequent genocidal crimes,” it said. “2015 is also is the year of 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the Holocaust.”
“Therefore, it is a significant time to analyze both crimes and all genocides of the 20th century in global and comparative perspectives,” added the association founded in 1994.
The IAGS conference is taking place under the auspices of the Armenian Genocide Museum- Institute in Yerevan. President Serzh Sarkisian underlined its significance for the Armenian government with a speech at the opening session of the forum.
“One hundred years have passed since the Armenian genocide but nothing has been forgotten,” said Sarkisian. “We have also not forgotten those intellectuals, scholars and humanists who … have shed light on the crime committed 100 years ago, making sure that it is not veiled by time.”
Sarkisian went on to thank Pope Francis, other world leaders and foreign states who publicly described the 1915 slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians as genocide shortly before or after the April 24 ceremonies in Armenia that marked its centenary. “It is in this context that I regard your decision to hold your conference in Armenia in this important year of commemoration,” he said.
The IAGS, which unites over 500 mostly Western scholars, has been openly urging more nations to recognize the Armenian genocide since 2007. “The historical record on the Armenian Genocide is unambiguous and documented by overwhelming evidence,” it said in a 2007 letter to members of the U.S. Congress.