October 15, 1998

WASHINGTON, DC -- To kick off the 1998 fall seminar series, the Genocide Studies Program at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies organized twelve distinct presentations by noted scholars from the across the world to address the topic of “Genocide – The Evidence”. As part of the October 1 seminar, Armenian National Institute (ANI) Director Dr. Rouben Adalian, together with Dr. Helen Jarvis from the University of New South Wales, were invited to jointly address the topic of managing multi-media information on genocide.

With the ANI Web site used as a visual backdrop to his presentation, Dr. Adalian explained methods and approaches developed by ANI to represent the Armenian Genocide visually. “Communicating information about the genocide to student audiences presents new challenges today. Audiences are accustomed to receiving news coverage of war and human rights crises from the broadcast media,” stated Dr. Adalian. He further explained that most of the evidence on the Armenian Genocide is textual because strict censorship by Ottoman officials was enforced to prevent the small amount of photographic evidence that was obtained during World War I from reaching the print media.

“The Internet has greater flexibility than the broadcast media as it allows for more sophisticated usage of static imagery in a narrative format. It is with this objective in mind that ANI sought to assemble material and associate available textual resources with it in order to convey as objective a reconstruction of the Armenian Genocide on the Internet as feasible”, said Adalian.

In contrast to the type of evidence remaining on the Armenian Genocide, Dr. Jarvis drew the audience’s attention to the unique facets of the Cambodian Genocide database, developed specifically to hold and catalog a wide array of information obtained in the immediate aftermath of the genocide.

Comparing the methods by which evidence has been gathered on the Armenian and Cambodian genocides, Dr. Adalian closed his presentation by sharing the following three observations with the audience:

1. The supremacy of legal judgment to sustain an internationally sanctioned view on an event that has the dimensions of genocide is vital. Without it the perpetrators can claim victory and their beneficiaries can claim immunity.

2. The importance of establishing a clear record in the immediate aftermath, and on a scale and at a level of detail that prevents subsequent distortion, is essential.

3. Recognition that a victim group may not be in a position to help itself obtain any kind of redress requires that international institutions be empowered to act responsibly when a genocide occurs.