Sahak Iskenian: Armenia is my only home

Sahak Iskenian: Armenia is my only home

Armenians abroad do not live a fabulous life, as it may seem, especially in the Arab world.

By ill fate, Armenians are scattered all over the world. Having no statehood but an abstract fatherland made up of lands lost in numerous wars for 600 years, the nation came to face the threat of complete extermination in the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. Those who survived the Genocide found shelter in different countries, many fleeing to Middle East. The hope to return to their homes was alive for a long time…

PanARMENIAN.Net - The first wave of repatriation began in 1946 but failed. Many went back, as they came across a completely different world. Now, we are witnessing a new wave, more sensible and, therefore, valuable.

Our interlocutor is Sahak Iskenian from Aleppo, Syria.

“I graduated from Medical University and served my army service, what is essential before leaving the country. And then I came home, to Armenia. I knew if I stay there, my children would be assimilated, they would not know their native tongue and traditions. They would forget that they are Armenians. My decision to settle in Yerevan forever was well-thought and achieved through suffering. Many of my friends, who have lived in Yerevan for several years already, did not plan to stay here at first. But they stayed. Now, I don’t have other home but Armenia. Just look at our communities in Europe, they are being assimilated,” he says.

“My grandfather was a copper master. My uncle followed in his footsteps. My brother and his family have already moved to Armenia. When I am asked about the life here, I say that everything is all right. Homeland can't be good or bad, it's the only one and Armenians should live here,” Sahak firmly believes.

Armenians abroad do not live a fabulous life, as it may seem, especially in the Arab world. There is a stereotype that the countries which accepted Armenians after the Genocide are treating Armenians as well as they did back in 1915. This is true to say about the government, whose members appreciate Armenian people for promoting arts and handicraft. Ordinary people eye Armenians as “unfaithful”.

Religious affiliation is significant and sometimes decisive in Arab states, although Sahak says that Armenians live freely in Aleppo, where the community is strong.

“Things are worse in Damascus. Just two more generations and Armenians will turn into Arabs. The sooner our people understand this and return to Armenia the better. I insist that they should move to Armenia but not any other foreign country, where they will be second-class citizens, despite their contribution to development of the country,” he says.

“There are a lot of problems in Armenia which should be urgently addressed. For example, I was waiting for Armenian citizenship for a year. Besides, it’s difficult to establish a business here. But everything can be changed for the better. Now, I am working in Masis town as a pharmaceutist,” he continues.

A piece of Mountain Ararat is seen from the window of Sahak’s apartment. “I wish I could see the whole mountain...” he says, adding, “I will build a mountain-view house one day.”

In the end of our conversation, Sahak makes coffee, like it’s done in Syria. The water is first boiled, then the coffee and “hil”, a Syrian spice, are added. It tastes amazing. Besides, Sahak says, it helps get rid of garlic or onion smell, and we have no reason to disbelieve him.

Karine Ter-Sahakyan / PanARMENIAN News
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