Armenia: Stories on the genocide I

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There is no space for casual conversation these days in Yerevan; talking about the weather seems inappropriate and insensitive. Today I met Victoria, an Armenian woman in her seventies, from Greece.  Like us she was booked on a Yerevan city tour organized by travel agency Hyur. I like to attend their day trips as they are very popular with diaspora Armenians. It is a great way to meet Armenians from all corners of the world and spent the day walking and talking with them.  It is a pleasant way to gather their stories. Victoria told it was her first time in Armenia and being here was a heartfelt wish come true. She arrived just yesterday, anxious because she came all by herself but filled with anticipation.  And this was her story:


 

‘I live in Athens now and all my life I dreamed of coming here, but I didn’t get the chance until now. I wanted to come with a group but that didn’t work out and then my daughter booked this trip for me. She organized everything so I could go before I get to old to do this. So I am here by myself now. I wanted to come here as a tribute to my father – God rest his soul. My father survived the massacres when he was only ten years old. With his mother and baby sister, he walked all the way from their village in Turkey to Deir ez Zor in the Syrian dessert. My grandfather was already killed by the Turks. It is from Syria that they fled further and settled in Sudan. It is in Khartoum that I was born and lived a good life. There was a vibrant Armenian community there with its own church, school and social club. But in the 1970’s things changed and we were once more forced to leave. We went to Cyprus and later moved from there to Athens, Greece. I am happy to be in Armenia now and on the 24th I will commemorate my grandfather and celebrate the strength and courage of my grandmother. I will remember my father who survived as a child. I truly hope there will come an end to all extremism, from all sides – it kills people for nothing, for nothing at all. It doesn’t bring any good.’

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