LOS ANGELES–The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) learned on March 22 that a planned conference at the University of Southern California (USC) featuring leading deniers of the Armenian Genocide was canceled.
The USC Center on Public Diplomacy originally sponsored the conference–titled "Turkish-Armenian Relations: The Turkish Perspective," which was scheduled to take place on Sunday–March 26. Former Turkish Ambassadors Gndz Aktan and mer Engin Ltem were invited to speak about the Armenian genocide and Turkish-Armenian relations. Aktam and Ltem are notorious deniers of the Armenian genocide–and the event announcement made no attempt to hide that their discussion would not only distort history but attempt to justify Ottoman Turkey’s extermination of its Armenian population.
"The USC event–which was to have featured Turkish members of the State Department’s discredited TARC initiative–is part of an orchestrated national campaign to breath new life into the failed effort," said Zanku Armenian–a member of the ANCA-WR Board of Directors. "The ANCA-WR–working with USC Armenian student groups–Alumni and school supporters–was able to demonstrate to USC officials the misguided and sinister nature of this panel–which led to its cancellation. The cancellation–along with the March 22 Los Angeles Times editorial reaffirming the Armenian genocide–sends a strong message to those who deny the Armenian genocide: ‘You are not welcome in California.’ We applaud USC administrators for taking prompt action to rectify this situation and thus protecting USC’s fine reputation from being used in Turkey’s propaganda war."
Outraged student groups called on USC administrators to ask why this conference was organized. In a letter to the director of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy–ANCA-WR Chairman Steven Dadaian called on the organizers to drop the conference.
"According to the description of the program issued by the Center–Messrs. Aktan and Ltem have the extraordinary task of turning the victims of the first genocide of the 20th century into the perpetrators," said Dadaian in his letter.
He pointed out: "The facts surrounding the Armenian genocide are not in dispute. The Armenian genocide has been recognized by the United Nations–the United States government and even the Ottoman courts who convicted the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide in absentia. The fact that USC is going to provide a forum for Turkish foreign agents to deny historical facts by making outright false statemen’s is disturbing and a violation of your own Code of Ethics."
The quick action to draw attention to this issue by many groups and individuals resulted in the ultimate cancellation once USC officials were made aware of the real intent of the event.
The ANCA is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices–chapters–and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world–the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.