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Public Discussion: The Armenian Genocide


Pope Francis recently called the Armenian massacre the “first genocide of 20th century.” With many areas marking Genocide Awareness Month, the killings and their aftermath are being discussed tonight at Siena College.

Pope Francis spoke during a Sunday mass at St. Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Turks in a long-disputed conflict.  He called it a “genocide,” and not just any genocide but “the first genocide of the 20th century.”

After a century, the killings are still a political fault line, with many Armenians arguing they have been unfairly underplayed by historians and disputed by Turkey.

Tonight on the Loudonville Campus of Siena College, the educational and healing processes continue.

Rafi Topalian is the chairman for the Capital District Armenian Genocide Committee.    "We're looking forward to a nice discussion because we will have many students from high school and college, and we invite the public at large to be part of the discussion, and to contribute, comment, or to learn, because not many people know about the Armenian genocide that preceded the Jewish Holocaust."

Some people wonder "Who are the Armenians?"

Credit friends of Armenia

"Our history goes back more than 5,000 years. We are the people of Ararat, people that originated from the valleys of Mt. Ararat which is currently in the country of Turkey. We are the first nation to adopt Christianity in 301 A.D.  Currently, it's a landlocked country, south of Georgia, North of Iran, east of Turkey and west of Azerbaijan, it is a landlocked country of about 3 million people. The diaspora, because of the genocide of 1915 to 1923, is estimated to be about 10 to 12 million, in about 160 countries."

A million and a half Armenians call the U.S. home, with more than 5,000 in the Albany area.  Topalian has initiated a dialog with the local Turkish community, but concedes it will may take even more time to heal old wounds.

  • (Free) Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 7:00PM - Siena College - ARC.
  • Local and Siena officials and families of survivors will be among attendees.
  • A reception featuring Armenian desserts will follow at 8:00PM.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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