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ASU hosts Genocide Awareness Week on April 17–21

Event, held for second time at ASU, focuses on Armenian, Assyrian genocides

Image of art piece showing a sketched face with many words and shades surrounding it.

Artist piece by ASU student Sienna Blakely.

April 03, 2023

For the second year, the Rosenbluth Family Charitable Foundation Genocide Awareness Week will be held at Arizona State University. 

The weeklong event runs April 17–21 and this year's theme is "Genocides, Refugees and Diaspora." It will focus on the Armenian and Assyrian genocides as well as displacement due to genocide. 

Genocide Awareness Week is an educational initiative that integrates academic scholarship, student participation and community involvement to heighten awareness about genocides and identify ways to prevent future genocides. 

Last year’s event had a robust schedule that featured more than 50 speakers throughout the week, with a keynote by Father Patrick Desbois, a French Roman Catholic priest and founder of Yahad-In Unum, an organization dedicated to locating the Jewish victims of the Nazi mobile-killing units in the former Soviet Union.

For its 11th year, Genocide Awareness Week has partnered with the Zoryan Institute, a nonprofit based in Canada that focuses on scholarship and public awareness relating to issues of human rights, genocide and diaspora-homeland relations. 

“The Zoryan Institute is bringing their genocide education curriculum from Ontario, Canada, to Valley high schools,” said Tim Langille, a board member and organizer of Genocide Awareness Week and an associate teaching professor of religious studies in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at ASU. “The Zoryan Institute's Genocide Education Program provides secondary-school students with a foundational understanding of numerous, complex and often emotional issues related to crimes against humanity and genocide.”

At this year’s event, the Zoryan Institute will screen the international award-winning animated film "Aurora’s Sunrise."

“The Zoryan Institute’s objective with this film to bring its oral history testimonies to life on the big screen, to relay the stories of Armenian genocide survivors to younger generations, and to empower young women and girls to represent their communities in the face of great adversity and violence,” according to a press release. 

"Aurora’s Sunrise" is one of two films that will be screened during this year’s Genocide Awareness Week. The week will also feature musical and cultural performances and presentations from survivors, scholars, politicians, activists, artists, humanitarians and members of law enforcement.

“The only way to face the threat of future genocides is to learn the right lessons by studying past genocides,” said Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Regents Professor of history and board member for Genocide Awareness Week . “That is the goal of Genocide Awareness Week. It brings to campus specialists who devote their career to the study of genocides and activists who devote their life to protect people against future genocides.”

Although many people view genocide as history, Genocide Awareness Week seeks to heighten awareness about genocides happening now and the possibility that they will occur in the future.

“Genocide education and awareness are always important, but especially during a time of rising authoritarianism and fascism in the world,” Langille said. “Our conference also will have a session on genocide denial, which continues to be insidious, pernicious and persistent.”

Genocide Awareness Week  oragnizers hope to raise awareness about the multifaceted impacts of genocide and wants to help students and the community facilitate tolerance, intellectual dialogue and respect for human rights and dignity. 

While the events are centered at ASU, there are additional events at Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. This year, Genocide Awareness Week will also involve the Mirabella community with evening events being held in the Mirabella Learning Auditorium. 

All events are free and open to anyone who would like to attend. More information about this year’s Genocide Awareness Week can be found on the event’s website, and registration for events is currently open.

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