ALABAMA ACTIVISTS SPREAD THE WORD ON ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
Thursday April 22, 2010
Standing room only at the University of Southern Alabama event on
Mobile – Over 170 students and members of the Mobile community
attended the screening of the critically acclaimed PBS documentary
"The Armenian Genocide" directed by Andrew Goldberg along with the
recently aired CBS "60 Minutes" segment on the subject.
According to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)-
Eastern Region’s April 20 release, the event was organized by a group
of students at the University of Southern Alabama including Narine
Karapetyan, Chase Krebs and Rachel Logan, with a question and answer
session led by a professor in the University’s History department.
Karapetyan and Logan previously organized a similar screening in
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 Kareptyan, 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
Additionally, the controversial Fethullah Gulen movement, which is
believed to be close to the Turkish government, continues to expand
its presence in Alabama. Many local elected officials and professors
at the University continue to be offered free trips to Turkey by
Turkish lobby groups.
"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 (ANCA) to their congressional
representatives. Logan, helping in this effort, had already received
a response from Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) 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 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.