Turkish scholar of the Armenian genocide speaks April 18

The Genocide Intervention Network-Minnesota will host a talk by Dr. Taner Akcam, visiting professor of history at the University of Minnesota and a scholar of the Armenian genocide. Akcam’s talk, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, in Room 100, McNeely Hall.

In 1976, Akcam was arrested and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment as the editor-in-chief of a political journal. He escaped from prison a year later, tunneling his way to freedom, and became one of Amnesty International’s first "prisoners of conscience." He lived in Germany since 1978 as a political refugee and continued his political activities, studying at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research and the University of Hannover in Germany on the topic of the Armenian genocide.

Dr. Taner Akcam

Akcam is under investigation in Turkey for asserting that the deportations and deaths of nearly a million Armenians in 1915 constituted a genocide, which is denied by the government.

Speaking out against the Turkish government’s policy constitutes the crime of "insulting Turkishness," for which Nobel laureate Ohran Pamuk, novelist and professor Elif Shafak of the University of Arizona, and Istanbul Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, recently murdered for speaking out about the genocide, also have been targeted.

Akcam is the first Turkish specialist to use the word "genocide" publicly in this context. The New York Times calls his new book, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, an "impressive achievement … [it] shines light on exactly why and how the Ottoman Empire deported and slaughtered the Armenians."

Akcam’s visit is sponsored by the All College Council, University Lectures Committee, History Department, and the Ohanessian Endowment Fund for Justice and Peace Studies of the Minneapolis Foundation.

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