Clark University History Professor Taner Akçam was recently presented with the Hrant Dink Spirit of Freedom and Justice Medal by the Organization of Istanbul Armenians on the 8th commemoration of Dink’s assassination. The late Hrant Dink was a prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist known for his efforts of reconciliation between Turks and Armenians and his advocacy of human and minority rights in Turkey.
Professor Akçam holds the Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Endowed Chair of Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark. It is the only chair in the world dedicated to research and teaching on the subject of the Armenian Genocide. He was the first Turkish scholar to publicly express his conviction that the 1915 Armenian genocide occurred under the Ottoman Empire.
“It is a great honor for me to receive this award,” said Professor Akçam. “Hrant Dink was the Martin Luther King Jr. of Turkey; he symbolized freedom of speech and justice. It is critically important to remember him and to work to keep his spirit alive as we continue to fight for the recognition of Armenian genocide.”
Akçam will add this to his growing list of honors and accolades. In 2006, he was recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for his outstanding work in human rights and for fighting genocide denial. He also received the Hrant Dink Freedom Award from the Armenian Bar Association for being “a champion of historical truth about the Armenian Genocide” and for his “courageous defense of liberty and free speech.”
This is the second year the Hrant Dink medal has been awarded; last year’s recipient was Khatchig Mouradian, editor of the Armenian Weekly and professor at Rutgers University and Worcester State University. Mouradian is a PhD. candidate at Clark, where he is working on his dissertation on the second phase of the Armenian Genocide. He has also taught courses at Clark.