Last week, nearly the entire population of 120,000 Armenians was forcefully expelled from their ancestral homeland of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).

On September 19, after an inhumane nine-month blockade, which brought the people of Artsakh to the brink of starvation, Azerbaijan launched a full-scale military assault on the civilian population. After thirty years of democratic self-rule under constant physical and psychological violence, the population of the Republic of Artsakh was expelled and the elected authorities were compelled to announce that it will cease to exist.

In this most critical time, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism hosted the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, with the Consul General of Azerbaijan in attendance, at a conference highlighting the role of public diplomacy in Turkish foreign policy.

Given that strategizing and implementing violence against the Armenians of Armenia and Artsakh is part of that foreign policy, USC’s Armenian students and members of the community exercised their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly to call attention to the inappropriate timing and purpose of this event.

Despite efforts by the Institute, the USC Armenian Students’ Association, faculty, Armenian Studies scholars, donors, and the general public, USC Annenberg chose to move forward with the event. Student protestors were met with excessive force and removed from the event. Equally shocking was the refusal to allow entry to members of USC’s Armenian community.

As we work to live up to the intellectual and moral responsibility of being an Armenian Studies institution at this time, we will continue to support the efforts to educate all those who wish to understand and to encourage further scholarship into this increasingly complex situation.

Read today’s LA Times op-ed addressing disinformation and Armenophobia, co-authored by our director, Dr. Shushan Karapetian and Associate Professor of Technology and Social Justice at ArtCenter College, Dr. Mashinka Firunts Hakopian.

Watch our Director of Special Initiatives, Salpi Ghazarian’s interview with Lisa McRee on LA Times Today.