MOBILE, Alabama – More than 170 students and members of the Mobile community attended the screening of the critically acclaimed PBS documentary “The Armenian Genocide” directed by Andrew Goldberg. The event was organized by a group of students at the University of South Alabama including Narine Karapetyan, Chase Krebs and Rachel Logan. The successful event included the recent “60 minutes” clip on the Armenian Genocide and a question and answer session led by a professor in the History department at the University.
Karapetyan is part of a handful of Armenian families in Alabama. “Being personally aware of how few people even know where Armenia is, I found it much more alarming that even fewer had even heard of the Armenian Genocide. Therefore, to combat this lack, or rather absence, of knowledge about this crucial part of history, we thought that Andrew Goldberg’s documentary ‘The Armenian Genocide’ was a great place to start,” said Karapetyan, who has inspired many of her friends to help educate the Alabama community on the Armenian Genocide.
Alongside the lack of education on the Armenian Genocide in the state comes a lack of political support for recognition. Alabama is one of the few states remaining that has not recognized the Armenian Genocide. Not a single House Representative or Senator from Alabama has cosponsored the Armenian Genocide Resolution during this congressional session. Additionally, the controversial Turkish-based Gulen movement continues to grow in Alabama.
“Although I was initially anxious of how the community at large would receive this information, I decided that this was not an issue about political affiliation. Nor was it an issue about race, religion, or disputed details. This was an issue that transcends every aspect of society and deals with morality. We decided to set an example by organizing this event,” said Krebs.
Attendees at the event filled out letters provided by the Armenian National Committee of America to their congressional representatives. Logan, helping in this effort, had already received a response from Senator Sessions (AL-R) earlier in the month. “The introduction of this resolution has already strained our diplomatic relationship with Turkey. Should this resolution be adopted, it could have further detrimental effects, with no positive palpable effect,” Sessions stated in an electronic response to Logan.
“It is clear from Senator Sessions’ response that the gag rule which Turkey imposes on the United States Congress is in effect in Alabama. I commend the work of these students at the University of South Alabama Mobile to educate their community on such critical issues” said Stephen Mesrobian, Chair of ANCA – Eastern Region. “They are continuing a long and proud history on our college and university campuses of fighting for human rights and social justice”.
With the success of the event, organizers pledged to continue their work on these issues. “We don’t plan to stop here. We are going to move this state and nation to action,” said Krebs.