By Heghine Manukyan
YEREVAN. – “I thought I would not faint from cries of horror and pain of a woman but when everyone started screaming, I lost consciousness,” says 101-year-old Yelena Abrahamyan, an eyewitness of the massacres in Western Armenia during the World War I, known as the Armenian Genocide.
Yelena Abrahamyan was born in Kars, and since the documents were lost during those bloody years, she assumes that was born in 1909 or in 1910.
Yelena is an artist, member of Armenia’s Society of Artists since 1944. A skinny woman with poor eyesight and hearing she nevertheless has a good memory. She lives in Yerevan, alone with her memories and numerous self-made canvases. She was seven or eight during those bloody events but she survived all the horrors.
“Our family was not very big, but suffered heavy losses,” she told the Armenian News-NEWS.am correspondent.
“It was 1918, when the Turks entered Kars. The entire population of the city and nearby villages was ordered to leave their houses, in case of disobedience they were threatened to be killed. People took to the streets, they were mainly women and children. People gathered near the road leading to the nearest town, Leninakan [located in Armenia]. Hundreds were looking for a way trying to cross the Kars River by a 1-meter-wide bridge.
When Turks started firing at unarmed people many threw them into the water. I saw two young women who jumped into the water with their children.
The first killed who I saw was a small child. I saw that he fell suddenly, and his mother, raising his bloody shirt, started screaming and shouting”.
She also said Turks blocked the way from the gorge and people were forced to return back where they faced Turkish bullets. People tried to cross the river by a bridge but fell into the water.
“All were screaming and I fainted. I do not know how much time I spent in a van but when I woke up I did not see any of my relatives there. A 4-year-old daughter of my father’s brother, Tsoghik, was lying nearby. They probably thought that I was also dead, that is why I was in this van. But I was not affected by the bullets. Turks were firing with unusual bullets – they were exploding in a body. People called them “boom-boom”. Russian gave them the bullets,” Yelena said.
Later Yelena was trying to find her family, relatives. She joined people wandering in the streets but could not find anyone. Then she went to the bridge but was approached by a tall stranger who tried to pick up a helpless child with him. “I started beating him but he paid no attention. He took me to the building of a Kars prison where soldiers were having rest. He suddenly threw me through the window inside. I stood up but, did not feel pain surprisingly. I was walking round and saw injured bleeding people everywhere,” she said.
Yelena found her aunt who survived. “My grandma was dead with my six month old cousin in her hands.”
Thus, losing her family and becoming a witness to many bloody events, 8-year-old Yelena reached Yerevan together with her aunt. Her father, a renowned teacher, mathematician who studied with Komitas, was in Turkish captivity. He managed to get to Yerevan in 1925 and died here at the age of 61.
P.S. Yelena Abrahamyan also said a few words about the Armenian-Turkish relations. She stressed these relations have no future, as Turks like telling lies, as they once did signing Armenian-Turkish protocols. “Armenians have a habit of being cheated, and, unfortunately, Turks always help them on this matter,” she concluded.