Promoting Genocide Education in Argentina

Emilio Alberto Salvatierra presenting at the Immaculate Conception School in Tucumán, Argentina

Although the Armenian Genocide occurred in 1915 and Argentina recognized it in 1987, many young people are still unaware of the subject. That is why the Armenian Volunteer Network (AMVN) decided to provide a lesson about the Genocide to a group of junior and senior high school students at the Immaculate Conception School in Tucumán, Argentina.

I proposed this idea to the school administration last year. School officials and teaching staff agreed that lessons on Armenian history and the Genocide should be incorporated into the curriculum.

The commemoration event on April 29 gave students the opportunity to develop their knowledge of this important field of study and to engage in discussions on the topic. It also provided a space for reflection on the Armenian Genocide and how we treat each other today. The student body of about 420 students was divided into three groups, and our presentation was conducted three times. I led the presentation with facts, videos and images.

Since I’m writing my thesis on human rights and the Armenian Genocide, I have acquired a number of resources that I referred to during my presentation. I have read the scholarly works of Raphael Lemkin, Hannah Arendt, Yuval Noah Harari, Vahakn Dadrian, Dr. Taner Akcam, Sevane Garibian and Nélida Boulgourdjian, who is my professor and the chair of Armenian Studies at the University of Buenos Aires.

Knowing and understanding why and how the Armenian Genocide occurred is the key to preventing its repetition in the future.

The effort to prevent genocide calls for educating young people to make them aware of the processes leading to mass violence and genocide. Education should contribute to the development of a more active sense of social and political responsibility, strengthening the defense of human rights.

Genocide is the result of deep-seated situations of stigmatization and discrimination that lead to human rights violations. Prevention must be rooted in an educational policy that promotes peace, human rights and the defense of people’s dignity.

This was my second time helping lead an educational commemoration about the Armenian Genocide. Last year, I organized a virtual presentation from the Netherlands with AMVN for an international audience.

I was asked by students and teachers several times if I am Armenian. I am not, but I don’t need to be Armenian to share in the pain. I don’t need to be Armenian to stand up for Armenians and take action and demand justice. The only thing I need to be is a human being. 

I am optimistic about the future when I see young students looking forward to learning about genocide. As part of AMVN, I look forward to establishing more international connections to promote genocide education.

I would like to thank the University of Saint Pablo Tucumán-Argentina, Yerevan Gladzor University, the Armenian Studies department at the National University of Rosario-Argentina, the Armenian Studies department at University of Buenos Aires, Dr. Nélida Boulgourdjian, Immaculate Conception School Banda del Río Salí and the Armenian Volunteer Network for their commitment to make the tragic date visible.

Emilio Alberto Salvatierra preparing for his presentation

Emilio Alberto Salvatierra

Emilio Alberto Salvatierra is the Spanish program coordinator the Armenian Volunteer Network. He is from Tucumán, Argentina and studies human rights at USPT University of San Pablo Tucumán. He is also pursuing Armenian Studies at UNR National University of Rosario Argentina. He is working on his thesis about the Armenian Genocide and learning Armenian with AMVN.

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  1. There should be genocide education. Moreover, in teaching about the Nazis’ atrocities, it should get noted that associating the Jews with Israel IS an anti-Jewish canard; at least that would stop people from dismissing criticism of Israel’s policies as antisemitism.

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