The University held a Genocide Remembrance Day event Monday in Fasnacht Court. It was a combined event in observance of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide, which were both commemorated in April this year.
Four speakers shared their personal stories on how genocide has affected their lives, as well as what they hope they can achieve for the future by sharing their personal stories.
Jason Neidleman, professor of political science, explained that his grandmother was a Holocaust survivor.
As part of the Jewish community, he explained he has a good sense of when to start worrying.
“We must remember the Holocaust and all other genocides,” Neidleman said. “As never again for us, or for anyone.”
Senior political science major Marianna Petrosian, member of the Armenian Club on campus, gave a brief history of the Armenian Genocide.
In April of 1915, during World War I, the Ottoman Empire exterminated 1.5 million Armenians in a massacre and then described the massacre as nothing more than a relocation.
Petrosian’s great grandparents were victims of the Armenian Genocide, who tried to move on by actually relocating, like many other Armenian victims at the time.
“Turkey denies the genocide still today,” Petrosian said. “Recognition does not heal the pain, but we refuse to forget our roots.”
Senior biology major Arpi Jivalagian, another member of the Armenian Club on campus, would not have been able to speak at the event had her great grandparents not survived the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide.
“Turkey miserably failed to exterminate the Armenian people,” Jivalagian said.
“This story must continue to be told for future generations to hear.”
Jivalagian described three hopes in her speech, and that was for recognition of the genocide from the United States, an end in denial from Turkey and for it to never happen again.
“Turkey is guilty of genocide,” Jivalagian said.
Sothie Bou, survivor of the Cambodian Genocide, was the last to speak.
In an emotional speech, she explained that she wanted the photographs placed on each of the several tables at the event to speak for themselves.
“There are never enough words to express,” Bou said.
As a first-generation survivor, she recognizes that genocides have happened all over the world, and are still happening today. Millions of Cambodians are now refugees today, but she still works towards moving forward and being better.
“It’s amazing how much strength runs in humanity,” said junior art and art history major Damairis Lao, who helped coordinate the event.
The event was sponsored by the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life.
Jocelyn Arceo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.