Without a Remedy: The Effectiveness of the Indian Civil Rights Act

Without a Remedy: The Effectiveness of the Indian Civil Rights Act
John Yankovich
Individual rights are heavily valued in America. American citizens can feel secure that anywhere they travel in the United States their individual liberties and rights, enshrined in the Constitution, will (usually) be upheld. If those rights are violated, constitutional case law provides citizens with various forms of remedies for restitution.

Native American tribes complicate this dynamic, at least for tribal members. Even though Congress may exercise broad plenary control regarding tribal power decisions, tribes still retain some of their inherent tribal sovereignty.[1] For example, tribes may still try tribal members and have complete control over membership decisions. In Talton v. Mayes, the Supreme Court found that tribal power predates the Constitution and thus the Bill of Rights did not apply to tribes in their tribal court decisions involving tribal members.[2] This line of reasoning was continued in subsequent Supreme Court decisions.[3] This protected tribal sovereignty, which has slowly been whittled away by subsequent Supreme Court decisions, has also left open the possibility that tribal courts could violate the civil rights of tribal members.

During the 1960s, congress held a series of hearings regarding “abuses that some tribal members were enduring at the hands of sometimes corrupt, incompetent, or tyrannical tribal officials.”[4] In response to these hearings, Congress passed the Indian Civil Rights Act, which applied most of the Bill of Rights to Indian Tribes.[5] The statute enumerated ten rights resembling “provisions in the United States Constitution’s first, fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth amendments, and the equal protection and due process provisions of the14th amendment.”[6] Noticeably absent from the statute; however, were an establishment clause, any right to counsel, right to civil jury trial and grand jury indictment, and a right to bear arms.[7] The differences between the rights enumerated in the ICRA from the Bill of Rights show a Congressional intent to respect tribal traditions and budgetary concerns.[8]
For a decade federal courts enforced the ICRA in civil and criminal cases on the reservations.[9] Sometimes even applying the due process and equal protection clauses to purely intra-tribal matters such as tribal decisions regarding election procedures and tribal membership criteria.[10] However, in 1978, the Supreme Court’s decision in Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez would end most federal litigation regarding the ICRA and render the law mostly ineffective.

In Santa Clara Pueblo, a female tribal member asked for injunctive and declaratory relief challenging a tribal ordinance that denied tribal membership to children of women who married outside of the tribe, but still allowed children of male members who married outside of the tribe to attain tribal membership.[11] While this would seem to be a clear violation of the equal protection clause of the ICRA, the Supreme Court found that injunctive and declaratory relief could not be granted because the ICRA did not expressly allow these remedies.[12] Longstanding Supreme Court precedent provides that Native American tribes may invoke sovereign immunity to dismiss suits against the tribe.[13] In order to abrogate this immunity and open a tribe up to suit, Congress must expressly state its intent to waive tribal sovereign immunity unequivocally.[14] The ICRA only offered habeas corpus reviews as a remedy,[15] and thus the Supreme Court found that the ICRA could only be applied to illegal detentions.[16] The ICRA was therefore basically rendered ineffective and tribal members would be without a remedy when tribal governments and courts violated their due process and equal protection rights.

One question that arose after Santa Clara Pueblo was whether the problem Congress had hoped to address with the ICRA actually existed. How many tribes actually violated due process and equal protection rights of their tribal members? A decade after Santa Clara Pueblo, Congress held a series of hearings in five cities regarding the effectiveness of the ICRA.[17] At a the hearing held in Phoenix, Arizona, the United States Department of Justice detailed 71 complaints and 98 violations of the ICRA from the years 1978 to 1988.[18] These violations include tribes revoking membership and property from tribal members in retaliation for members complaining about tribal practices,[19] taking children away from parents without due process,[20] and tribal councils literally overruling tribal appellate court decisions, along with many more substantial violations of tribal members’ civil rights.[21] The tribal members mentioned in this report lacked legal recourse because they were not illegally detained.

Luckily, since the Congressional hearings, there has been a recent movement by some tribes towards adopting some of the ICRA’s provisions. Tribal courts have used the ICRA to reverse the removal of tribal council members,[22] reverse tribal banishment decrees,[23] required employees to be provided representation during termination hearings,[24] required evidence found during unlawful searches and seizures be excluded from introduction into evidence,[25] and struck down or enjoined enforcement of ordinances for violating equal protection,[26] due process,[27] and the right to free exercise of religion.[28] In fact, examples of tribes applying certain rights enumerated in the ICRA are too numerous to list here.[29] While this is certainly an encouraging development, there have not been any empirical studies showing how many of the 562 tribes in the United States have adopted actually civil rights protections. Congress never commissioned another comprehensive report on this subject,[30] and many tribal court decisions are not published, making it very hard to get a sense of how many tribes have actually chosen to protect their members’ civil rights. Additionally, stories still surface of tribes that grossly violate their members’ civil rights.[31] It is therefore impossible to gauge whether tribal civil rights abuses are still a large problem.
Unless Congress changes the language of the ICRA to include monetary or injunctive remedies, tribal members will have to rely on the willingness of tribes to voluntarily adopt the ICRA or similar civil rights protections. Otherwise, these tribal members will be without legal recourse when their rights are violated.

[1] U.S. Comm. Civil Rights, 102nd Cong., Rep. on the Indian Civil Rights Act 3 (Comm. Print 1991).

[2] Id. at 4.

[3] Stanley I. Kutler, Dictionary of American History 264 (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 3rd ed. 2003).

[4] Id.

[5] U.S. Comm. Civil Rights, 102nd Cong., Rep. on the Indian Civil Rights Act 5 (Comm. Print 1991).

[6] Id.

[7] 25 U.S.C.§§ 1302(a).

[8] U.S. Comm. Civil Rights, 102nd Cong., Rep. on the Indian Civil Rights Act 5 (Comm. Print 1991).

[9] Rebecca Tsosie et al., American Indian Law: Native Nations and the Federal System 413 (6th ed. 2010)

[10] Id. (citing Wounded Head v. Tribal Council of Oglala Sioux Tribe, 507 F.2d 1079 (8th Cir. 1975); Slattery v. Arapaho Tribal Council, 298 F. Supp. 26 (D. Ariz. 1969)).

[11] Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 436 U.S. 49, 52 (1978).

[12] Id. at 70.

[13] Id. at 58 (citing Turner v. United States, 248 U.S. 354, 358 (1919)).

[14] United States v. King, 395 U.S. 1, 4 (1969) (citing United States v. Sherwood, 312 U.S. 584)).

[15] 25 U.S.C. §§ 1303.

[16] Santa Clara Pueblo, 436 U.S. at 71.

[17] U.S. Comm. Civil Rights, 102nd Cong., Rep. on the Indian Civil Rights Act ii (Comm. Print 1991).

[18] Enforcement of the Indian Civil Rights Act: Hearing Held in Phoenix, AZ, Before the United States Comm. on Civil Rights, 100th Cong. 132-33 (1988) (Letter from James P. Turner, U.S. Department of Justice, to William J. Howard, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Jan. 24, 1989, re Allegations of ICRA Violations Post Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez).

[19] Id. at 135.

[20] Enforcement of the Indian Civil Rights Act: Hearing Held in Washington, D.C., Before the United States Comm. on Civil Rights, 100th Cong. 156 (1988) (Sharon Sehmickle and Roger Buoen, Indian Courts: Islands of Injustice, Minneapolis Star and Tribune, January 5, 1986).

[21] Enforcement of the Indian Civil Rights Act: Hearing Held in Phoenix, AZ, Before the United States Comm. on Civil Rights, 100th Cong. 137 (1988) (Letter from James P. Turner, U.S. Department of Justice, to William J. Howard, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Jan. 24, 1989, re Allegations of ICRA Violations Post Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez).

[22] Mark D. Rosen, Multiple Authoritative Interpreters of Quasi-Constitutional Federal Law: Of Tribal Courts and the Indian Civil Rights Act, 69 Fordham L. Rev. 479, 522 (2000) (citing Coalition for Fair Gov’t II v. Lowe, 23 Indian L. Rep. 6181 (Ho-Chunk Tribal Ct. 1996)).

[23] Id. (citing Burns Paiute Indian Tribe v. Dick, 22 Indian L. Rep. 6016, 6017 (Burns Paiute Ct. App. 1994)).

[24] Id. (citing Johnson v. Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enter., 25 Indian L. Rep. 6011 (Mashantucket Pequot Ct. App. 1996)).

[25] Id. (citing In re D.N., 22 Indian L. Rep. 6071 (Hopi Child. Ct. 1995)).

[26] Id. (citing Conroy v. Bear Runner, 16 Indian L. Rep. 6037, 6039 (Oglala Ct. App. 1984)).

[27] Id. (citing Rough Rock Cmty. Sch. v. Navajo Nation, 22 Indian L. Rep. 6162 (Navajo 1995)).

[28] Id. (citing Kavena v. Hamilton, 16 Indian L. Rep. 6061, 6062 (Hopi Tribal Ct. 1988)).

[29] Robert J. Mccarthy, Civil Rights in Tribal Courts: The Indian Bill of Rights at Thirty Years, 34 Idaho L. Rev. 465, 498-504 (1998).

[30] Klint A. Cowan, International Responsibility for Human Rights Violations by American Indian Tribes, 9 Yale Hum. Rts. & Dev. L.J. 1, 41 (2006).

[31] Harold Monteau, Indian Civil Rights Act Has Done Nothing for Individual Indians’ Rights, Indian Country Today (July 2, 2012), http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/07/02/indian-civil-rights-act-has-done-nothing-individual-indians-rights (citing case where a tribal member was denied counsel, prosecutor acted as defense counsel, and tribe failed to read charges against him until day of trial); Tom Robertson, Tribal Justice – But not for All, Minnesota Public Radio (April 2001), http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/projects/2001/04/brokentrust/robertsont_tribaljustice-m/index.shtml (reporting claims by tribal members of exclusion from reservation without any hearing, lack of separation of powers between judicial, legislative and executive branches of tribal government, leading to injustices); Eric Reitman, An Argument for the Partial Abrogation of Federally Recognized Indian Tribes’ Sovereign Power over Membership, 92 Va. L. Rev. 793, 818 (2006) (citing evidence that 2,000 tribal members in California have been disenrolled from their tribes without cause).

“Imagine” Not Paying Taxes

Todd Gee – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

Ted Cruz announced his bid for the Presidency by evoking John Lennon’s “Imagine.”[1] Among a list of policy objectives, Cruz asked his would be constituents to imagine “abolishing the IRS.”[2] The sentiment behind this refrain is understandable: Americans do not like to pay taxes. A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 56% of Americans either hate or dislike paying their taxes, as opposed to 34% who like or love paying taxes.[3] Among the reasons for disliking taxes were that taxes are complicated, inconvenient and involved too much time and paperwork.[4] While Cruz may be an outlier, calls have been made by members of both parties to simplify the tax code. If done properly, amending the tax code could encourage greater social justice by ensuring that credits and deductions are delivered to those taxpayers who need it most.

One reason why the tax code is so complicated is the presence of myriad tax deductions and credits. Tax experts often refer to these deductions and credits as tax expenditures. Congress offers tax credits and deductions as a means to influence taxpayer behavior, or to favor certain industries without giving that aid in the form of an outright subsidy. Spending through the tax code diverts over $1 trillion per year from the Treasury, which is large enough to close the federal deficit in 2014..[5],[6] In addition to contributing to deficits, spending through the tax code disproportionately favors the rich. Itemized deductions specifically favor the rich because most taxpayers do not itemize their returns. For taxpayers who do itemize, wealthiest Americans benefit more significantly because their tax rates are higher.[7]  Put simply, a taxpayer in the 35% tax bracket has more to gain by reducing their income than someone in the 15% tax bracket. While not exclusively the cause of income inequality in the United States, the current construction of the tax code provides a disproportionate benefit to those who need the least help from the government.

However, it is possible to reduce the effect tax deductions have on horizontal and vertical equity by limiting their use. President Obama’s proposed budget for the current fiscal year recommended limiting the value of deductions in proportion to taxable income.[8] The President’s proposal would limit deductions to 2% of income for higher income taxpayers and would accomplish the goals of reducing loss of revenue and encouraging greater progressivity.[9] Other proposals to reduce the negative effects of tax expenditures are raising the floor for itemized deductions, converting deductions to credits, or eliminating itemized deductions altogether. All of these proposals would serve the dual purpose of increasing the government’s tax revenues and encouraging greater vertical and horizontal equity in the tax code. For example, converting deductions to credits will eliminate the disproportionate benefit that deductions give to taxpayers facing higher marginal rates. While these policies would eliminate hidden, structural government spending it is important to recall that elimination of some tax expenditures, such as the deduction for medical expenses, could increase some taxpayers’ liability beyond their ability to pay.[10] Therefore, any proposal to eliminate or limit tax expenditures should ensure that policies that are currently favored, such as alleviating the effect of catastrophic medical expenses, continue to be accounted for.

Proposals like abolishing the IRS are unlikely to be successful and fail to address major shortcomings in the tax system, which contribute to the income inequality problem in the United States. Simplifying the tax code, to eliminate or curtail the use of tax expenditures, is one means that can be employed to ensure that the money spent through tax expenditures is divided more equally among taxpayers.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/24/opinion/imagine-president-ted-cruz.html?_r=0

[2] Id.

[3] http://www.people-press.org/2013/04/11/a-third-of-americans-say-they-like-doing-their-income-taxes/.

[4] Id.

[5] https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Tax-Deductions-and-Credits/The-10-Most-Overlooked-Tax-Deductions/INF12062.html

[6] http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-budget-deficit-in-2014-narrows-to-lowest-level-in-six-years-1413385493

[7]http://www.hamiltonproject.org/files/downloads_and_links/THP_15WaysFedBudget_Prop7_rev.pdf

[8] Congressional Research Service, 12. http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43079.pdf.

[9] Id.

[10] Congressional Research Service, 15 http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43079.pdf

#LikeABoy Shows We Still Have a Ways to Go for Gender Equality

#LikeABoy Shows We Still Have a Ways to Go for Gender Equality

Darick Holden – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

The most recent Super Bowl went about without too much controversy.  There was the so-called “Deflate-Gate” scandal which haunted the New England Patriots in the weeks leading up to the big game.  There were also questions regarding a last minute play selection that may or may not, depending on if you ask a Seattle or New England fan, have cost the Seattle Seahawks a second consecutive Super Bowl victory. Even the miniature brawl that occurred in the waning seconds of the game that led to multiple ejections wasn’t seen as too controversial, rather it was one of the commercials, which the Super Bowl has become known for, that seemed to cause the most derisive controversy about the game.

The commercial at issue was for the Always brand of feminine hygiene products and it constituted a director asking a group of young adult men and women what it meant to “run like a girl” or “throw like a girl”.  The adult groups proceeded to respond in a stereotypical way.  The director than asked several young girls the same things and they proceeded to run in a “normal” way, and one of the little girls explaining that running like a girl means “to run as fast as I can”.  The purpose of the commercial was to question how doing something “like a girl” became an insult and to empower young girls to embrace being a girl. This commercial seemed to have the most social buzz, reaching approximately 400,000 mentions on social media [1] even making #LikeAGirl a trending a topic on Twitter.

Not everyone appreciated the women empowering message, in particular several men were not fans. Shortly after #LikeAGirl became a trending topic, #LikeABoy started popping up and became a trending topic on Twitter as well. [2] These so-called “Meninists” complained on Twitter and other social media platforms, arguing that the commercial is sexist because there is not an equal “like a boy” ad airing.  Several men took to Twitter to proclaim that the commercial is “the most insulting commercial ever and there better be a #likeaboy commercial” and even a self-proclaimed “meninist” stated that “hopefully one day us men can have equality and treated the same”.[3]

These “meninists” fail to understand what the #LikeAGirl commercial was intended to do, even though it is laid out pretty obviously in the commercial.  The commercial states that upon reaching puberty a girl’s self-esteem plummets and one such way it manifests itself is through veiled insults that seem to pervade through our society.  The commercial seeks to empower women to take back the term “like a girl” and use it as a sense of strength.  These men who were up in arms over the one ad about girls that took place during a four hour event that celebrated masculinity failed to see the obvious message the commercial was stating.  They also fail to understand the difference that “like a boy” has never been used as an insult against men the same way that “like a girl” has been used against women.

While the #LikeABoy movement shows that we still have a significant portion of our population who don’t quite get gender equality, we have made tremendous strides in the area.  The commercial was the first commercial advertising a feminine hygiene product to air during the Super Bowl, among the beer and buxom babe ads.[4]  We as a society may not be where we should be with regards to gender equality, but we are still making significant strides.

[1] Perez, Sarah, P&G’s #LikeAGirl Ad Scored The Most Social Buzz During Super Bowl, Tech Crunch (Feb. 01, 2015), http://techcrunch.com/2015/02/01/pgs-likeagirl-ad-scored-the-most-social-buzz-during-super-bowl-2015/.

[2] O’Neil, Lorena, Super Bowl: #LikeABoy Trends as ‘Meninists’ React to #LikeAGirl Ad, The Hollywood Reporter (Feb. 01, 2015), http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/super-bowl-likeaboy-trends-as-769015.

[3] Id.

[4] Philips, Victoria, #LikeAGirl Ad Heading To The Super Bowl, Refinery29 (Jan 31, 2015), http://www.refinery29.com/2015/01/81603/always-campaign-first-feminine-product-ad-super-bowl.

Half of the American Population Remains Politically Unprotected, Again

Half of the American Population Remains Politically Unprotected, Again

By: Marina Kovacevic – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

I am political and I would help roughly half of the American population, but I have been touched by every country in the world except the U.S., Sudan, Iran and Somalia. What am I? I am the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).[i] Yes, you read it right—the U.S. has something shameful in common with only these countries.

The CEDAW is associated with campaigns against gross human rights violations like human trafficking or systematic violence against women. But the Convention is also a versatile framework for measuring equality in many arenas, including the global economy and the workplace.[ii] The US signed the CEDAW on July 17, 1980 but has not ratified it, so it has not joined the other 187 countries who have.[iii] President Carter forwarded CEDAW to the U.S. Senate for advice and consent in 1980.[iv] It remains in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.[v] The Senate has held hearings on CEDAW five times in the past 25 years but failed each time to bring the treaty to a vote on the floor.[vi]

The US would be in grave violation of CEDAW with its failure to implement and enforce equality in the legal realm. Congress embarrassingly bailed on passing the Paycheck Fairness Act that would prohibit discrimination existent in the workplace based on sex.[vii] The Supreme Court keeps diminishing women’s worth by refusing to implement anything higher than an intermediate scrutiny standard in cases of sex discrimination. Abortion laws and regulations continue to discredit the theme of Roe v. Wade, such as propositions comparable to Texas Senator John Coryn’s anti-human trafficking bill that would ban a victim restitution fund from covering the cost of abortions.[viii]

Our first world country remains amidst a phenomenon of economic power superior to that of any other country in the world but such political tug of war continues to stifle the progress that half of the nation’s population could be making to equate itself with the male population.

The adoption of CEDAW would force the US to give the rights to women that politicians simply and blatantly do not want to give. The U.S. would be held to international standards of equality for women and this is something that the American conservative politicians will not bow down to. By accepting the convention, states commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws, and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women.[ix] However, the U.S. may sign CEDAW with its own reservations, including any articles of the treaty that would delve too deeply into the family structure.

But have been the reasons our politicians give us for not adopting CEDAW? Would CEDAW harm or help our society? “Conservative organizations, such as the Home School Legal Defense Association and Concerned Women for America, vehemently oppose the ratification of all human rights treaties. They insist that human rights treaties violate American sovereignty.”[x] Because American politics allows for group lobbying, sometimes the group who is the loudest will win, influencing Congress members in making a decision. Conservatives further claim that CEDAW displays feminist views that are too radical for the American society to withstand.[xi]

Congress has been notorious for partisan views, accompanied by personal ideologies and interests, both of which are bound to influence decision making. However, the fact that government representatives allow this to be their reason for rejecting CEDAW or the rights from it is troublesome because congressional representatives are in office to represent their communities, not to further their personal agendas. Whose interests should prevail? Conservative interests based on internal views or factual interests of women who face discrimination?

Why do conservative views on family and tradition continue to outweigh the need for equality that is not present in today’s American society or law? The issue is not that CEDAW would interfere too personally into family structures. The issue is that CEDAW would provide a unique, international channel of protection of women where there would be some recourse for women who experience sex discrimination beyond Supreme Court analysis.

[i] United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CEDAW/Pages/CEDAWIndex.aspx.

[ii] http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/6699/on_the_world_stage_u.s._falls_flat_on_womens_equality

[iii] United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CEDAW/Pages/CEDAWIndex.aspx.

[iv] Id.

[v] Id.

[vi] Id.

[vii] http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/6699/on_the_world_stage_u.s._falls_flat_on_womens_equality

[viii] http://bitchmagazine.org/post/republicans-want-to-stop-human-trafficking-victims-from-getting-abortions

[ix] United Nations Inter – Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality- http://www.un.org/womenwatch/.

[x] Lisa Baldez, U.S. Drops The Ball on Women’s Rights, CNN Opinion (Mar. 8, 2013). http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/08/opinion/baldez-womens-equality-treaty/.

[xi] Id.

Armenian Genocide: 100 Years Later

Nicole Fries – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

This coming weekend there will be an event called “100 Years Later: ASU Armenian Genocide Conference,” a two-day academic conference to be held at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law on Saturday, March 21 and Sunday, March 22. Conference speakers and panelists include scholars, attorneys, and community leaders from across the state, the nation, and around the world. The conference includes perspectives on Armenian, Jewish, and Native American experiences of genocide, recognition, and cultural revival.

The inaugural keynote will be given by Professor Taner Akçam (Clark University) on Saturday evening at 5 PM, and will be followed by a Networking Event at Culinary Dropout. Sunday’s program will feature four afternoon panels, starting at 1 PM, including:  “The Armenian Genocide in a Comparative Perspective,” “The Legal Framework of the Armenian Genocide,” “Armenian Futures: Reconciliation & Remediation,” and “From the Ashes: Perspectives on Post-Genocide Culture.” Sunday afternoon’s legal panel will feature ASU Professors Bodansky, Rothenberg, and Clinton, as well as UofA Professor Najwa Nabti (speaking on violence against women during genocide), and renowned trial attorney Mark Geragos. The conference will conclude with a keynote by Professor Peter Balakian (Colgate University).

The conference is generously co-sponsored by the ASU Jewish Law Students Association, the ASU Law Center for Law & Global Affairs, the ASU School of Historical, Philosophical, & Religious Studies, the ASU Melikian Center, the ASU Center for Jewish Studies, the ASU Center for the Future of War, the ASU Center for Religion & Conflict, The American Red Cross, and others.

The year 2015 marks the passage of 100 years since the systematic extermination of more than one million Armenians by the Ottoman government. To this day, despite a general consensus by scholars and historians, Turkey fails to recognize the Armenian genocide. As the loss of Armenian culture and life still reverberates, the struggle for recognition and remembrance continues. The word genocide was coined by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in response to the Armenian Genocide, which prompted Lemkin to fight for international laws defining and forbidding it. Since then a variety of legal work has ensued, from broad action under International Humanitarian Law to more local action, yet the Armenian people continue to face ongoing threats to their safety and security including hateful rhetoric, displacement, and the destruction of artifacts of culture and memory. As we remember the Armenian genocide, we cannot forget that its legacy and its lessons remain acutely relevant today.

The history of the Armenian Genocide is full of highs and lows. During World War One, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks, it what has been called the first genocide of the 20th century.[1] However, many have refused to recognize it’s existence as a genocide, or even a mass killing, often arguing it was an internal conflict or Turkish national security measure. [2] More recently, Amal Clooney has represented Armenia in a case before the European Court of Human Rights against a Turkish official who called the genocide an “international lie” in a public speech while in Switzerland in 2005.[3]

However, Armenian history was dealt another blow when in 2014 ISIS destroyed the Memorial Church in Der Zor, Syria.[4] Seen as the Armenian memorial equivalent of Auschwitz as a Holocaust memorial, Armenians have gathered there every year to commemorate the genocide since it was built in 1989. The Memorial church housed the remains of victims and contained a museum focused on the events of the genocide.

Both for the purpose of commemoration, but also for the important value of educating the world on largely unreported events that took place in Armenia, Turkey, and Syria during World War One, this conference welcomes discussion and learning. Conference attendance is free. To register, and for more program and speaker information, please visit http://conferences.asucollegeoflaw.com/azarmgenocide/.

[1] http://time.com/3687958/amal-clooney-turkey-armenian-genocide/

[2]  DECLARATION BY TURKISH ACADEMICIANS ON THE TURKISH-ARMENIAN PROBLEM (23 Nisan 2001, 23 April 2001)

[3] Id.

[4] http://armenianweekly.com/2014/09/21/der-zor/