“A terrible thing is taking place there, under the mask of darkness.” VT
BY KHACHIG JANOYAN
The famous author William Saroyan believed in the Armenian spirit as he wrote, “Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” Saroyan understood the power of prayer for Armenians, “Der Voghormia” (God beseech us).
Having felt the horrors and misery of war on their own skins, Armenians, more than any other people in the world, appreciate peace. As a people, we have experienced Genocide, we have lost lives to many wars, and therefore, we comprehend the physical and emotional tolls of wars.
During the past 30 to 40 years in the Middle East, where a substantial number of Armenian live, we have many highly organized communities with schools, churches and organizations. The immortal poet, Vahan Tekeyan wrote, “A terrible thing is taking place there, under the mask of darkness.”
Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Egypt and these days Syria, once prosperous Diaspora communities, have had to migrate and settle in new countries, just as the poet Ghazaros Aghayan described how the swallows rebuild their nest, remembering and singing about the old nest (“Dzizernageh pooyn geh shiner”).
Today, the Armenian people, having been both witness and victim, and having learnt from experiencing both, have come together as a single and united community to reach out to those Diasporans in need. The lay and religious Armenian leaders of communities, came together in the homeland and Diaspora, formed bodies resembling their counterparts in other countries, and held a hand to reach out to their suffering sisters and brothers.
That’s how it happened in Lebanon, in Iraq, after the earthquake in Armenia, and during the liberation of Artsakh. The Armenian people, all over the world, acting together, reached out to help those communities: the rich with their wealth; those with modest means, with their pennies; the intellectuals with their pens; and everyone with their hearts and spirits.
Today, the ten million Armenians of the world are faced with yet another challenge.
Today, the cherished Armenian community in Syria is facing a debacle.
Our compatriots in Syria are loved and respected by the kind people of Syria, on personal and institutional levels. We all know that there are clashes between the east and the west; between Sunnis and Alawites; and between the interests of Israel and Arab countries. As a result, the people of Syria are the ones who suffer, and the Armenians are a part of them.
A Joint Committee in Support of the Syrian Armenian Community was formed in the Western United States to facilitate the efforts of the churches, political and charity organizations.
In the near future, this committee will ask our community members to participate in the fundraising efforts for the Syrian-Armenian Relief Fund.
As we watch the daily images of bombardments and violence with broken hearts and spirits, we realize that innocent people are the victims.
It is our collective responsibility to assist our brothers and sisters in Syria, until the conflict recedes.
It is heartwarming to know that the authorities in Armenia are also concerned and are ready to lend a hand to ensure their safety.
We take pride in our people, who know how to unite, collectively face challenging times, and to generously donate to ensure that our sisters and brothers survive not only physically, but also with high spirits.
Kachig Janoyan is a member of the Syrian-Armenian Relief Fund Executive Committee of Western U.S.A.