Armenia’s Oldest Artist, Genocide Survivor Dies
YEREVAN (NEWS.am)—The oldest member of Armenia’s Artists’ Union and Genocide Survivor, Yelena Abrahamyan, passed away Friday. She was presumed to be 102 or 103 years old.
Abrahamyan was born in Kars and while escaping the wrath of Turks, she lost her birth certificate. Her relatives said she was born either in 1909 or 1910.
Abrahamyan escaped the Genocide and went to Leninakan (present-day Gyumri), after which she settled in Yerevan where she thrived as an artist. She joined the Artists’ Union in 1944. Before he death, she lived alone surrounded by her many canvases and a lifetime of memories.
“I thought I would not faint from the cries of horror and the pain of a woman. But when everyone started screaming, I lost consciousness,” Abrahamyan told NEWS.am’s Heghine Manukyan in an interview that was published on April 24 of this year.
“Everyone was 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. The four-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,” added Yelena recalling the horrors of her survival.
She recalled vividly her journey from Kars to Gyumri. How hordes of people were forced to cross the Kars River to seek refuge, however, many perished as the Turks relentlessly fired at them.
“Our family was not very big, but suffered heavy losses,” she told NEWS.am. She lost her family and while searching for them, she experienced and witnessed unspeakable horrors at the hands of the Turks.
“My grandma was dead with my six-month-old cousin in her arms,” recalled Abrahamyan.
She finally made it Yerevan with her aunt. Her father, a renowned teacher, mathematician who studied with Komitas, was in Turkish captivity. He managed escape and arrived in Yerevan in 1925.
Abrahamyan also discussed the current phase of Armenia-Turkey relations, saying that the process initiated by the Armenia-Turkey protocols has no future.
“Turks like telling lies, as they once did…Armenians have a history of being cheated, and, unfortunately, the Turks are always there to help them,” she concluded.