Requiem for a million in Armenia

By Doel Bose
St Xavier?s College

For many an Indian, April 24 is the Little Master?s birthday. But for Armenians across the world, it was on this day in 1915 that around 250 of their leaders were rounded up by Turks during World War I and killed.

The day, known as the Armenian Genocide, was followed by the death of more than a million Armenians.

This year, the incident was commemorated by the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy at Gorky Sadan with the screening of a documentary on the incident.

?The aim of the event was to remind the young generation of the sacrifices made by their forefathers,? said Fr Oshagan Gulgulian, pastor of the Armenians in India and former manager of Armenian College.

Reading out an address from the President of Armenian, Ashot Kocharian, the Armenian ambassador to India, said: ?This gathering of people from several diasporas to pay tribute to the victims will help in spreading awareness.?

While students from classes VII to X put up an exhibition of photographs on the genocide, the school choir sang four songs in Armenian. ?We charred the black-and-white images at the edges and surrounded them by red handprints to depict the horror of the situation,? said Arez Markarian, a Class IX student of the school, set up in 1821.

The school, affiliated to the ICSE board, has 80 students, including those from Iran, Iraq and Armenia.

Andrew Goldberg?s 2006 documentary, Armenian Genocide, depicted the events that led to the April 24 massacre and its fallout. Including accounts of survivors, it described the survivors whose mourning remains incomplete as their pain has not been acknowledged by Turks or other nations of the world.

The programme included the recitation of the English translation of Armenian poet Siamanto?s The Dance. Siamanto was one of those killed in April 1915. ?It is about a German woman witnessing a group of 20 naked brides being whipped and burnt alive outside her window,? explained Arez. The poem, dramatised by students, ends with the German woman wondering how she can gouge her eyes out after seeing something so cruel.

Source: “The Telegraph”, Calcutta, 30 April 2009