LOWELL, Mass.—On Saturday, February 29, the Lowell Aharonian Gomideh of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) hosted a dual commemoration of the February 1921 revolt against Soviet rule and the 30th anniversary of the pogroms against the Armenian community in Azerbaijan. The program included remarks by Ara Jeknavorian on recent activities of the Merrimack Valley Armenian National Committee (ANC) and Ani Haroian, representing the ARF Eastern Region.
The featured speaker was Judy Saryan, editor and publisher of the Zabel Yessayan project at the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA). Saryan presented a multimedia discussion about the life and work of the novelist, intellectual and activist, Zabel Yessayan. A highly informative video recounted the writer’s experiences during the Armenian Genocide. After a narrow escape from Turkish authorities in April 1915, Yessayan dedicated herself to documenting the atrocities unfolding at home in Constantinople. Steadfast to her commitment to giving voice to the voiceless, Yessayan used her pen and her connections to disseminate information, to collect and publish eyewitness accounts from survivors and most unusually for her time, to expose the particular violence inflicted on women and children as a tool of genocide. In 1929, Yessayan moved to Soviet Armenia, where she taught literature at Yerevan State University and continued writing and publishing. In the 1930s, she became a victim of Joseph Stalin’s repression of intellectuals; she was arrested and died in an unknown prison, probably in 1943. Several passages from several translated works by Yessayan were read by Saryan.
Reverend Fathers Vart Gyozalian and Stepan Baljian offered the invocation and benediction respectively. Aram Jeknavorian served as master of ceremonies.