LOS ANGELES, CA – The Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) has raised concern regarding the University of Southern California (USC) Center for Public Diplomacy’s decision to invite Tolga Arslan, Turkish Vice-Consul, to speak at the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars (APDS) Conference on Friday, May 3, 2013.
The conference is held annually and has four panels this year focusing on Public Diplomacy’s Domestic Dimensions, Public Diplomacy in Conflict Zones, and Diasporas and Consular Diplomacy. Togla Arslan has been invited to speak on the subject of Diasporas and Consular Diplomacy in order to share his public diplomacy strategies and the most effective ways of engaging with their diasporas. Arslan is not only a representative of a government that actively denies the Armenian Genocide, but he also actively works with organizations in the Diaspora that advocate for the denial of genocide. This concern should not only be a concern to the Armenian community and to human rights advocates, but to the USC faculty and students as well. Inviting a representative of a government that does not engage in just practices in diplomacy reflects negatively upon the department and its credibility.
It is important that those attending this conference are educated and aware of the ongoing human rights violations by the Turkish government. USC should not allow representatives of foreign governments that have one of the worst human rights violation records to influence our education in the United States. It is important that we be critical and that we speak out when we see individuals like Arslan, through his government, attempting to influence our educational system.
The Armenian Youth Federation calls on the USC Center for Public Diplomacy to retract its invitation to Tolga Arslan, and to be truly critical of the representatives that they invite for future panels.
On November 17, 2012, Arslan was invited to be the keynote speaker at the UCLA Bruin Model UN conference, where he was supposed to deliver the introductory speech to the conference participants. Arslan canceled his appearance at the last minute due to the combined efforts of the Armenian Youth Federation Western Region (AYF-WR), Armenian National Committee of America Western Region (ANCA-WR), and the UCLA Armenian Student Association (ASA). (“Vice Consul of Turkey Cancels Model UN Appearance at UCLA”) The BruinMUN organizers thanked the Armenian community for their steadfast commitment to the principles of truth, justice, and human rights.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization in the United States, working to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.