Armenian life: from Der Zor to Black September

Photo: from Sarah Leah Whitson's archive

Apraham Haroutunian (my grandfather) and an unknown friend at the orphanage in Lebanon.
Apraham Haroutunian (my grandfather) and an unknown friend at the orphanage in Lebanon.

Photo: from Sarah Leah Whitson's archive

In April 2015, the month in which world marked the 100 years since the Armenian genocide, the Guardian asked readers in the country, and those in Diaspora, to share their stories of how the violence had affected their family history.

The project, led by the New East network, had a an overwhelming response with over 500 people sending letters, photos and testimony, some of which were used in the coverage of the centennial.

A year on and Mediamax have worked with the Guardian to revisit some of the stories, published here as we approach the 101st anniversary.

Sarah Leah Whitson, US

My mother's family was deeply scarred by the genocide.

My grandfather Abraham Haroutyunian survived alone as an orphan, hiding while Turkish forces massacred his family. He was saved by missionaries who found him in a tree, and moved to an orphanage in Lebanon.

My great-grandmother marched through the Der Zor desert, where she lost one of her infants on the journey. She later gave birth to my grandmother in Lebanon, where she was refugeed.

Their lives were marked by the homeless, insecure experiences of refugees, caught in wars not their own: Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan.

My grandmother and uncle were later killed during Black September in Jordan.


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