2013 Najarian Lecture on Human Rights to Feature Siddarth Kara

BOSTON, Mass.—Human trafficking and modern-day slavery is the focus of the 2013 Najarian Lecture on Human Rights at Faneuil Hall in Boston on Thurs., Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. The annual lecture, an endowed public program of the Armenian Heritage Foundation, the sponsor of Armenian Heritage Park on the Greenway, is free and open to the public.

Keynote speaker Siddarth Kara
Keynote speaker Siddarth Kara

“Human Trafficking at home and abroad…ought to concern every person, because it’s a debasement of our common humanity…of every community, because it tears at the social fabric…of every business, because it distorts markets…of every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. … Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time,” said President Barak Obama in his address to the United Nations in September 2012.

The keynote speaker will be Siddharth Kara, director of the Program on Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery at the Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Kara is also the author of Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery.

Cherie Jimenez, the founder and executive director of EVA (Education, Vision & Advocacy), formerly Kim’s Project, will speak about “Leadership: From a Personal Perspective.”  Liam T. Lowney, the executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance and founding director of the Interagency Human Trafficking Task Force (created by the Massachusetts Human Trafficking Statute, led by Attorney General Martha Coakley), will offer insights into Massachusetts laws. Middlesex County Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian will offer specific ways to become more aware and help.

Following the lecture, attendees will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with representatives from such entities as the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit, Boston University School of Law Human Trafficking Clinic, Kim’s Project, Lutheran Social Services of New England, and My Life My Choice.  Information will also be available about the Polaris Project and its National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) that answer calls and texts from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

K. George and Carolann S. Najarian, M.D., have endowed this annual lecture at Faneuil Hall in honor of Dr. Najarian’s late father, Avedis Abrahamian.  “This endowed lecture on human rights is in my father’s honor as he taught so many about the need to pay attention, to spot injustice, and to speak out wherever and whenever it occurs”, comments Dr. Carolann Najarian.

Offered in partnership with historical and academic institutions, and human rights organizations, the purpose of the endowed series is to advance understanding of human rights issues and the societal abuses faced by millions today, and to increase awareness of the work of individuals and organizations dedicated to eliminating these injustices so that we are all more actively engaged.

The annual lecture was inspired by the New England women and men—intellectuals, politicians, diplomats, religious leaders, and citizens—who, from 1895-1918 at Faneuil Hall, heard eyewitness accounts of the atrocities taking place against the Armenian minority of the Ottoman Empire and spoke passionately about the urgent need for intervention. Distinguished Bostonians, among them Julia Ward Howe, Clara Barton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Alice Stone Blackwell, heard these accounts and were moved to assist the Armenians.  Philanthropists nationwide raised over $100 million. The American Red Cross launched its first international mission with Clara Barton bringing aid to the Armenians. This was America’s first international human rights movement. Peter Balakian, in The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response (HarperCollins, 2003), brought to light this important New England history to so many.

Honorary chairs are Governor Deval L. Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino.  Co-chairs are Charlie Clements, executive director, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Martha F. Davis, Ph.D., faculty director, Northeastern School of Law, Human Rights and the Global Economy; Michael A. Grodin, M.D., co-director, Global Lawyers and Physicians Working Together for Human Rights, Boston University School of Public Health; Shant Mardirossian, chairman of the Board, Near East Foundation; Joshua Rubenstein, scholar-in-residence, Facing History and Ourselves; and Deborah W. Nutter, Ph.D., senior associate dean, Fletcher School of  Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

The inaugural speaker in 2010 was Kerry Kennedy, founder and president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights based in Washington, D.C. The 2011 speaker was Paul Rusesabagina, president and founder of the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation. In recognition of the opening of Armenian Heritage Park on the Greenway in Boston and in celebration of the immigrant experience, the 2012 speaker was Ambassador Edward Djerejian, the former American ambassador to Israel and Syria.

Serving on the Armenian Heritage Foundation’s Lecture Planning Committee are Carolann Najarian, M.D., George Najarian, Joyce Barsam, Ph.D., Phyllis Dohanian, Linda Kaboolian, Ph.D., Audrey Kalajian, and Barbara Tellalian. The foundation liaison is Lucy Hoosian and treasurer is Karen Dederyan.

For more information, visit www.ArmenianHeritagePark.org.

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