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Pepperdine’s Genocide Awareness Exhibit reminds, educates

Nona Mitoyan (left), president of the Pepperdine Armenian Student Association and the Armenian Genocide Committee, and Konstantin Abajian, member of the Pepperdine Armenian Association and Executive Board Member of the Armenian Genocide Committee, pose in front of last week’s annual Genocide Awareness Exhibit. Photos by Barbara Burke/22nd Century Media
Pepperdine’s Genocide Awareness Exhibit on Thursday, April 13, displayed photos, statements and statistics on various genocide incidents.
Barbara Burke, Freelance Reporter
10:09 am PDT April 19, 2017

Some events can never be put in the past, no matter how many days or years pass.

The Armenian Association and the Armenian Genocide Committee sponsored the annual Genocide Awareness Exhibit at Pepperdine on Thursday, April 13. The comprehensive exhibit displayed incidents of genocide, beginning with the Armenian Genocide, often referred to as the “forgotten genocide,” which lasted from 1915-1918, and decimated the Armenian population.  

“By refusing to accept a genocide, or by the continued denial of a genocide, you are by de facto accepting, as a moral principle, the practice of murdering millions of innocent people to be acceptable,” said Konstantin Abajian, a member of the Pepperdine Armenian Association and executive board member of the Armenian Genocide Committee. 

The exhibit also depicted the atrocities in the Cambodian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Bosnian Genocide and the ongoing horrors that are happening in Darfur.  

“The Armenian Genocide Committee, which helped to co-host this event, focuses on educating the public about the Armenian Genocide,” said Nona Mitoyan, president of the Pepperdine Armenian student association and the Armenian genocide committee.

It was a harrowing, eye-opening, sobering experience to see the notes of the victims of each genocide, the pictures of the emaciated children, with their haunting gazes staring at the viewer as if to say “how did this happen?” and “never let this happen again.” In every genocide depicted, families were torn apart, communities razed, the essence of cultures erased from their very existence.

Mitoyan noted that the City of Los Angeles has designated April as Armenian history month. She explained that genocide is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” 

An atrocity does not formally acquire the status of “genocide” until there is a formal certification process through the United Nations, Mitoyan explained. She noted that a 1998 international treaty signed by some 120 countries established the International Criminal Court to prosecute genocide crimes. She emphasized that like Darfur, genocide is currently occurring in Syria, Burma, Mosul and Yemen. 

Pepperdine University recently passed a resolution formally recognizing the Armenian genocide in order to support its Armenian students and the forthcoming anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24.

The haunting exhibit starkly made the point that, if we ignore such historical horrors, if we ignore the manifest injustices, we are in peril of becoming complacent — and that could open the door for such horrors to manifest again.