Yuma woman shares family’s struggle to escape Armenian Genocide

YUMA, Ariz. – One-hundred years ago, the Turkish Ottoman Empire began the systematic murder of Armenian people. To this day, Turkey still refuses to call it a Genocide. At the time, two-million Armenians lived in the Ottoman empire. It is believed by some historians that Turks feared their growing strength, which led them to wipe out 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children.

Zarmineh Begijanian, who now lives in Yuma, says her family is a direct product of the Armenian Genocide.  “With my great, great parents, they were the ones involved in this. They were actually forced to leave for the fear of their lives,” said Begijanian.

Forced to walk endlessly in the desert, some Armenians were able to flee the terror to neighboring Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Begijanian’s great-grandparents were part of the groups that sought safety in Iran. “Most of them were led to the Syrian desert and I don;t know how they got to Iran but I know they fled for their lives, a lot of them they had to and Iran was the closest place they could go to,” said Begijanian.

So why is it that Armenians continue to bring up this point in history 100 years later? Begijanian explains, “It is a very sad day for us, so they’re trying to bring it back for people to be more educated what had happened, what took place.”

The Armenian National Institute lists 23 countries that consider the 1915 atrocities as a Genocide, with the U.S. still on the fence. And Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Domutoglu calling it a civil war. Begijanian argues, “If you’re in a war with a country you’re in a battlefield you’re fighting with whatever you have. But in a Genocide, which that’s what it was, you go into homes, they went into homes to children to women, they raped they killed. If you’re in a war you don’t do that.”

So each year on this day, April 24th, Armenians gather across the globe to march in hope of one thing – recognition.

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