Historian awarded for scholarly work on Armenian Genocide

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Historian and Australian Research Council Future Fellow with UON's Centre for the History of Violence, Associate Professor Hans Lukas Kieser has been awarded the President of the Republic of Armenia Prize for his significant contribution to the history of the Armenian Genocide. Associate Professor Kieser recently travelled to Armenia to collect his $10,000 prize in a presidential ceremony.

 Dr Hans Lukas Kieser
Associate Professor Hans Lukas Kieser accepting the President of the Republic of Armenia Prize for his significant contribution to the history of the Armenian Genocide.

Lukas Kieser has been researching the Ottoman Empire and the First World War since the 1980s and has published several seminal books on Turkey, the Middle East and mass violence including his latest publication World War I and the End of the Ottomans: From the Balkan Wars to the Armenian Genocide. Kieser has extensively contributed to scholarly debates around Turkey’s history over many years, which has now been recognised and given the highest honour by the Armenian government.

“The Armenian genocide was part of a violent demographic engineering in the last decade of the Ottoman Empire in 1912-1922, when at first Balkan Muslims, then, on a multiplied scale, Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christians in Asia Minor and Syria were targeted,” Associate Professor Kieser said.

“They became victims of hate speech, mob violence, rape, ethnic cleansing, mass killing and enslavement. We cannot understand the rise and patterns of today’s ‘Islamic State’ without taking into account the much bigger mass crimes perpetrated a hundred years ago in the same geography, also often in the name of Islam,” Kieser states.

During his speech at the Presidential Palace Lukas Kieser said that he was “taken by surprise” and “moved and honoured”, and very much appreciated the opportunity to visit Armenia for the first time in his life to accept the award.

Raymond  Kévorkian, a Paris-based historian of international renown and  President of the Jury of the   Hayastan All Armenian Fund , the organisation behind the award,  said publications by  Associate Professor Kieser  as well as the many international symposia he has organised are invaluable contributions to the history of the Ottoman Empire and that of the Armenians.

“It is clear that it is such work that helps to understand the mechanisms that lead to radicalisation, up to the planning of mass killings. It is this historical research and re-thinking of Lukas Kieser, which spans over several decades, which convinced us to award him the President's Award,” said Mr Kévorkian.  “In Armenia, whose population is partly from the Ottoman Empire, this work is valued because one wants to understand how this kind of crime occurs; because one has an attachment to the memory of facts; and because the historical work on these issues helps prevent mass violence.”

“The academic community is no longer asking whether genocide has occurred because it has done the research, the results of which have answered open questions. The problem is only within contemporary Turkish society and singularly in the circles of power which continue to deny the genocide,” Mr Kévorkian said.

Associate Professor Hans Lukas Kieser agrees saying “these power circles cast a dark shadow on international diplomacy, thus making the progeny of victims of genocide also victims of international denial. Governments which hush up the Armenian genocide could learn from countries which have done more historical soul-searching, like Germany that has recognised it in 2016. Importantly, public broadcasting services in free societies must not be bound to diplomatic guidelines, but truth.”

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