On the occasion of the publication of her encyclopedic work “The Times of the Armenian Genocide: Reports in the British Press”, author Katia Peltekian, gave an engaging lecture on “The British Response to the Armenian Massacres of 1914-1923”, on Thursday, January 23, 2014, at the Cultural Hour of Haigazian University.
In her welcoming address, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Arda Ekmekji, acknowledged the documentations carried out by expatriate diplomats, namely from the United States and Great Britain, who reported to their governments the atrocities taking place during the genocide. Ekmekji also appreciated the painful task carried out by Ms. Peltekian in collecting all the information related to the Armenian Genocide in the British press, and compiling it in her new book.
Peltekian, who has been engaged in teaching English in numerous universities since 1987, began her lecture by stating that many Armenian History and Genocide scholars give much attention to the American response to the massacres perpetrated by the Turks, rather than to the British reaction, although Britain had been politically, socially and commercially present in the Ottoman Empire for more than a century. In her presentation, Peltekian highlighted both the official and public response to the massacres & deportations of the Armenians as well as the Armenian Question during the peace negotiations.
The first part of the lecture demonstrated a few samples of the British parliamentary discussions and debates in the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Although Britain was involved in the war from the very beginning, and endured destruction and many casualties, the official circle still found time to show its support to the Armenian people in their dire situation. Peltekian presented some of the proceedings of meetings in the Houses of Parliament during which reports on the ongoing massacres were confirmed by the Foreign office, and on a number of occasions, the British government avowed that the Armenians would never be left under Turkish rule. But despite all those promises, Britain at the end submitted to the Turkish demands and abandoned Armenia.
The second part of the lecture demonstrated the British public’s reaction to the appalling situation that the Armenians lived in. Peltekian referred to letters and announcements by a number of funds and organizations that were established to help the Armenian survivors, refugees and orphans, such as the Friends of Armenia, the Canterbury Mission, the Women's Armenian Relief Fund, the Manchester Relief Fund, and the Armenian Refugee Fund, which was established by the Lord Mayor of London. Finally, Peltekian also demonstrated a number of announcements placed in the newspapers calling for donations to help the Armenian refugees and survivors.
At the end of her lecture, Peltekian answered questions by the audience.