GELNDALE, Calif.—On May 11, the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF) gathered together community members at the Glendale Adult Recreation Center for an illustrated public lecture featuring Khatchig Mouradian, PhD, on the topic of “Resistance, Refuge, and Return: The Challenges Facing Syrian Armenians.”
The event drew in attendance of clergy, representatives of various community organizations, journalists, activists, and fellow citizens concerned with the plight of Syrian Armenians.
SARF Executive Committee Secretary Sona Madarian delivered welcoming remarks and stressed that the critical issue pertaining to Syrian Armenians should be considered one of individual and national priority, and necessitates immediate moral and financial assistance.
Meher Der Ohanessian, Treasurer of the SARF Executive Committee, then provided a comprehensive overview of his participation in a consultative session, which focused on restoring the lives of Syrian Armenians and was held in Antelias, Lebanon at the invitation of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.
Chairperson Raffi Kendirjian then discussed the mission of the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund, which was brought to life to help ease the hardships faced by Syrian Armenians and to offer moral aid and financial assistance. He informed that SARF’s mission continues until the present time, especially in the aftermath of the war in the region, since educational, social, and economic structures remain in peril. He stated, “The spark among Syrian Armenians still exists and it is essential for us to reignite this flame and ensure that it continues to blaze.” Kendirjian then presented the event’s keynote speaker, Khatchig Mouradian, a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York, and highlighted his research and academic expertise, which has gained high commendations both academically and professionally.
Alongside a slideshow presentation, Mouradian provided a comparison between refugees that resulted from the Armenian Genocide and the Syrian Armenian refugee exodus, exploring socioeconomic and psychological issues that leave a distressing impact on populations. He highlighted the humanitarian relief and resistance efforts waged by the Aleppo Armenian community as deportees surviving the initial wave of massacres and deportation arrived in Syria in 1915. He noted that more than a century after those efforts that saved thousands of lives, the roles are now reversed: it is the Aleppo Armenian community that needs the support and assistance of the descendants of the survivors they helped save a century ago.
Mouradian provided an overview of the challenges facing Syrian Armenians both within Syria—from Aleppo to towns and cities where only a few Armenian families remain—and in Lebanon, Armenia, and the West. He emphasized that these challenges should be seen within the broader context of the plight of the Syrian people in general. “If Syria is going to rise from the ashes and be rebuilt, that effort will require the joint efforts of all its children.”
Following the lecture, Mouradian engaged in a question-answer session with the audience. On behalf of SARF, Sona Madarian commended Mouradian for his thorough presentation and extended him wishes of continued success among a vision of peace for Syrian Armenians.