ARF Founders’ Descendants Attend ARF Album-Atlas Presentation

ENCINO–Twenty years ago, when Hagop and Knar Manjikian began researching what eventually became the biographies of more than 320 Armenian freedom fighters from 1890 to 1914, little did they know that the large book they prepared, the Houshamatyan Album-Atlas of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Volume I, would unearth lost relatives and reunite descendants with the memories of their ancestors. On Sunday, Dec. 10, descendants of A.R.F. founders Kristapor Mikaelian and Rosdom attended the long-awaited presentation of the English-language edition of the Houshamatyan at Avedissian Hall in Encino organized by the ARF Central Committee of Western US, whose members joined honored guests, including author Aram Saroyan and Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian. The publication of the Album-Atlas, originally printed in Armenian in 1992, in English is momentous because it now makes the content of the book accessible to larger numbers of Armenia’s who do not read or write the language, noted master of ceremonies Garen Yegparian. "This book is dedicated to the generation, about whom writer Avedis Aharonian once wrote, ‘They, whose proud deaths brought light to our dark lives,’" said Hagop Manjikian, the editor. He exhorted Armenian youth to honor their duty to their people and their fatherland and encouraged them to be inspired by "the heroism of the exemplary figures in this book." Knar Manjikian, the biographies editor of the book, introduced the descendants of the founding fathers of the A.R.F., Dr. Nickolas Kristapor Chelyapov and Stepan Zoryan Beer. "The Manjikians are amazing, very dedicated," said Chelyapov, who bears a remarkable resemblance to his great-grandfather Kristapor. The event presented an opportunity for him to meet, for the first time, his third cousin, Mariette Ghazarian, whose legendary grandfather, Samson, was Kristapor’s nephew. She recently donated some of her grandfather’s personal effects to the A.R.F. museum in Yerevan. The Chelyapovs, who immigrated to Los Angeles from Russia 15 years ago, knew very little about their forefather until an A.R.F. member happened to meet Dr. Nickolas Kristapor Chelyapov, a biophysicist and the leader’s great-gran’son, and helped him get in contact with the organization. Chelyapov and his mother were thirsty for knowledge about Kristapor, his family life and his political activities when they first met the Manjikians in 2003. Rosdom’s descendants seem to have inherited their grandfather’s political genes. His gran’son, Stepan Zoryan Beer works at the United Nations in Geneva, where he lives. He flew to Los Angeles with his wife and daughter to attend the presentation. His daughter, Veronique Beer Fluckiger, a Socialist like her great-grandfather, based her master’s thesis on Armenian history. She worked at the Zoryan Institute in Boston in the late 1980s, and that’s how she was located by the Manjikians. Coincidentally, great-gran’son Charles Beer, who is the minister of education in Geneva, was sent to Armenia on assignment by the Swiss government two years ago. The program at Avedissian hall was ably run by Yegparian and included congratulatory remarks by AYF representative Mary Ashdjian, ARF Central Committee member Aram Kalousdian, Saroyan and Archbishop Mardirossian. Myrna Douzjian-Der Ohanessian, a PhD candidate in comparative literature at UCLA, reviewed the contents of the large, coffee-table-size book, which contains the abbreviated histories of the major revolutionary epics and the biographies of more than 320 Armenian freedom fighters from 1890 to 1914, as well as 33 maps. The Houshamatyan Album-Atlas is $75. Copies are available by faxing a request to 323-656-0976 or by writing to ARF Album, P.O. Box 2734, Toluca Lake, CA 91610.


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