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Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Armenian Genocide Remembrance...

April is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Month.  Around and after the WWI, the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were systematically annihilated by the Turks.   The word genocide was coined to describe the crimes of the Turks towards Armenians.  Learn how Armenians were deported from their homes and villages in Turkey in the beginning of the 20th century. 

Welcome! You are reading BEYOND THE BLUE DOMES.  I am a "Baby-Boomer" born and raised in Iran and my topics range from my memories growing up in Iran to homeless community in Santa Monica and beyond.  My theme is social realities and preserving the history. I'd like to connect with people around the world that share the same passion. I appreciate your comments; you may contact me by email: or just leave a comment on my blog. (it's easy if you have a gmail account)

The first story is by karine Armen about her grandmother, a survivor of Armenian Genocide.

Victoria, a young beautiful Armenian woman, woke up screaming and crying.  Her nightmares were not surprising to her husband and five kids.  They lived in a modest home in Tehran.

Victoria and Alex got married very young. They were both survivors of a vicious genocide.  Their marriage was for survival purposes.  She was only 14 when she got married. 

The young couple were from an Armenian town in Turkey called Garin.  In the spring of 1915 the Turkish soldiers started calling the Armenian men to join the army during the First World War.  The Armenian men were leaving their homes believing they were going to serve in the Turkish army. Little did they know that was their march to be massacred.

A sudden silence fell over Garin.  It seemed that the birds had stopped singing.  For a few minutes there was no wind, no air, and no sounds.  Then, a loud knock on the door shook the world.  Hambo opened the door and two Turkish soldiers entered screaming, “Ermeni, yavour” dirty Armenian.  

Victoria’s mother rushed to the door and saw the soldiers with their daggers on Hambo’s throat.  She screamed and begged the men to leave the house.  But the Turkish men started laughing and yelling, “You want to save your son? You have to dance for us.”  Victoria was hiding under the bed. She was shaking.  She was very young but wise enough to control herself not to make a noise. Listening to her mother’s and brother’s cries her heart was pounding fast. 

Hambo got very angry seeing how these men were insulting his mother.  He tried to protect her and pushed the men away, running towards his mother.  The soldier got angry and slashed cut Hambo’s throat.  “Oh, no, God, please save my son.”  “Your son?” yelled the other soldier “I’ll give you another son.”  He pushed the woman on the ground and killed her. The men, exhausted and satisfied, left the house without entering the bedroom.

My grandmother, Victoria, was only 7 years old.  She was home playing with her fabric doll that her mother had made.  Her 6 month old sister, Berjik, was quietly sleeping in the bedroom.  Her 12 year old brother, Hambo, was playing with some pebbles.

Victoria came out of the bedroom and saw her loved ones’ bodies soaked in blood.  She wanted to scream but she could not. Perhaps she was afraid the soldiers might return.

She grabbed her baby sister and left the house.  There was commotion all over the town.  Women and children were running, screaming and crying.  She walked and walked and got very tired, hungry and thirsty.  She could not continue carrying the baby who was also hungry.  Victoria left the baby under a tree.  

She put some rocks around her to protect her from animals and went to look for food.  After a few more hours of wandering and walking, she fell asleep out of exhaustion.  The next day she could not find her way back to her baby sister.  Where was she, under which tree, in which direction?

Victoria met some other women and started walking with them.  They went through the deserts of Iraq.  After weeks of walking they arrived to Iran.

She connected with other genocide survivors from her town.  That’s where she got married at a young age. Her first son was named Hambo and her daughter was named Berjik to honor her lost sister.  Berjik was my mother. My grandmother had her own family but she could not stop thinking about her baby sister.  She always wondered what happened to her.  Did someone rescue her?  Was she eaten by animals or killed?  The guilt and nightmares continued to the next generation.  Her mental and emotional condition affected her kids and grandchildren. 

By: Karine Armen
June 13, 2009
Published in Inner Heaven

The next story is by Margaret Ajemian Ahnert, who has written 
"The Knock at the Door,"
a historical memoir about her mother a Genocide survivor. The book has won the following awards:

Writing is a solo journey but as a writer I know I am never completely alone. Recently on a book tour, I read a passage from my book about a Turkish neighbor vowing to hone and sharpen his knives so that when the order comes for him to kill the Armenian family living next door to him, they will feel no pain. He promised this as an act of kindness to an old friend. Suddenly a woman in the audience stood up and said loudly, "That was my mother's neighbor." 

I was amazed by her statement. In my book I relate this as a story told to my mother and her family by her brother who was a soldier in the Turkish army as he tried to persuade them to leave before the killing began because he knew the orders would be coming soon. "Thank you Margaret for writing this book," another in the audience remarked. "Your writing confirms the stories my grandmother told me growing up." 

Up until that moment I had never realized the closeness of the reader to the writer. I always felt isolated as I wrote in solitude but this book tour has brought me close to my reading public. When someone says, "Why that could have been my grandmother," it is then that I feel the joy of writing.The warmth and admiration of new Armenian friends warms my heart.  

I sit in my hotel room alone staring at San Francisco Bay and the mountains beyond. I think of my mother Ester and the long road she traveled to me and my father; to my children, her grandchildren a whole life.  I realize I share this journey with my readers. I am not alone. The reader is with me. 

I remember I once read somewhere that fear and courage are like lightening and thunder they both start out at the same time, but fear travels faster and arrives sooner. If we just wait a moment, the requisite courage will be along shortly. I am tapping into my courage as I face adversities by Turkish denial.  I am encouraged by the kind reviews of my work, the tearful woman in the audience who remembers her grandmother's story through mine. I am heartened by the words of my grandchildren, "Wow, Grammy, Great grandmom was so amazing." I smile and I believe my mother Ester is smiling too!

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