SCC hosts annual Genocide Awareness Week

The yearly event brings speakers and exhibits together with the mission of ending genocide


Cody Achin/Scottsdale Chronicle

Oskar Knoblauch emphasizes the value of forgiveness during Genocide Awareness Week.

Cody Achin, Reporter, Scottsdale Chronicle

SCC hosted its annual Genocide Awareness Week in the Turquoise Room from April 11 through April 16. There were various lectures, exhibits and other events that helped to generate awareness about genocide from a historical viewpoint and how the subject of genocide remains relevant in today’s world.

On April 11, Holocaust survivor Oskar Knoblauch shared his story about the tragic events that took place after the start of World War II. On April 14, Dr. Nicholas Al-Jeloo spoke about genocide in Syria. Throughout the week, there was much more to see and experience. These presentations, on the whole, represented a glimpse of what Genocide Awareness Week had to offer.

John Liffiton, an SCC faculty member and the Director of SCC’s annual Genocide Conference, hoped that these events would be memorable and contribute to a strong fourth year of Genocide Awareness Week. He expressed his passion for ending genocide by inviting many different speakers to talk to everyone about the past and the present, as well as the legality of genocide. Liffiton strives for every year to be better and different from the last.

“Every single year it is different,” Liffiton said. “We don’t have the same speakers, we don’t have the same educational exhibits and we don’t have the same films.”

Markus Jim, a current SCC student and a former student in one of Liffiton’s classes, has learned a great deal about genocide through these exhibits and films. Jim also feels that Genocide Awareness Week is a good place for people to learn and take action.

“If anybody who didn’t know the definition, I’d think they learn at least something new they didn’t know before, like how it’s still going on today or the real definition of genocide,” Jim said. “I’d think they’d learn and it would be beneficial to somebody who didn’t know. Depending on that person they might want to help, learn more and contribute to the cause of ending [genocide].”

Liffiton’s passion for ending genocide is clear through this endeavor and the all-encompassing perception of what he wants people to get out of Genocide Awareness Week.

“The whole point is to get this out to get people aware of what’s going on and if you don’t raise up this question and talk about [genocide], how do you justify that?” Liffiton asked. “How can you justify not talking about it? Not honoring these people who were killed for no reason at all. So it’s a way of saying ‘you didn’t die in vain, we are taking your story and telling people and maybe we can save other people.’ That’s the key thing, that they didn’t die in vain. We’re telling people about this and trying to save others and stop it.”

With recent news covering Islamic State attacks and the Panama Papers leaks pertaining to potential heinous crimes around the world, the realization of stopping genocide may be clearer than ever.

For more information on Genocide Awareness Week and updates on future conferences, be sure to visit SCC’s website. Next year, as Liffiton stated, will be completely different with new exhibits, timely information and speakers with a story to tell. Check back next April to see how the fifth annual Genocide Awareness Week will be presented.