California’s News Blaze has a story on an Armenian Genocide survivor who died at the age of 106 – five months after her story was told in the U.S. Congress for a resolution commemorating the Armenian Genocide that was soon killed by George W. Bush and the Turkish lobby.  Hayganous Markarian did not live to see a symbolic act of recognition of her survival. But she survived the worst international crime – genocide.

106-year old Hayganoush Markarian was one of last two known Bay Area survivors

Hayganoush Markarian, one of only two known remaining survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide living in the Bay Area, passed away at the age of 106 on March 13.

Last October, Markarian’s story of survival was presented by Rep. Lynn Woolsey to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs during a hearing regarding a resolution officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide by Congress. Rep. Woolsey showed committee members Markarian’s photograph and urged her colleagues to pass the resolution. The resolution passed in committee and awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives.

Markarian was born Hayganoush Azarian on January 24, 1902 in the city of Kharpert in current-day eastern Turkey. The area was the historic homeland of Armenians until the Ottoman Turkish government began a systematic campaign to exterminate the Armenian population in 1915, which culminated in the death of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children through massacres and forced deportations.

In Kharpert, Markarian lived with her parents, older brother, and four sisters. When the Turkish government began the Armenian Genocide, first through the conscription of Armenian men and boys into special army units, Markarian’s brother and father fled into hiding. Her brother, Karekin, dressed as a girl in order to safely cross dangerous areas. He made his way to Russia, then Sweden, and finally to the United States. Her father, Minas, who had been a successful businessman, hid among some of his Kurdish clients, moving from residence to residence to avoid detection. Meanwhile, Markarian’s mother found a way to keep the rest of the family together in Kharpert during the mass deportations, avoiding massacre until the end of WWI when they were reunited with Markarian’s father. Unfortunately, Minas suffered an early death as the result of the difficult conditions he had faced hiding in water wells for long periods of time.

In 1923, Markarian’s mother moved the family to Aleppo, Syria, where Hayganoush married Markar Markarian in 1925. They remained in Aleppo, raising five children, until 1956 when the entire family moved to Lebanon. In the meantime, their eldest son, Armen, migrated to the United States to pursue an education, and remained in America to teach. In 1969, the rest of the Markarian family followed Armen to the United States.

In both Syria and Lebanon, Markarian was an active member of the Armenian Relief Society, the oldest Armenian women’s organization operating in the world. The organization was established in 1910 in New York City to provide humanitarian assistance to Armenians in need. Markarian continued her membership until her death this week.

Hayganoush Markarian’s funeral will take place on Wednesday, March 19, at 11 am, at St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church in San Francisco. She is survived by Armen and Victoria Markarian, Arsen and Alice Gregorian, Zohrab and Elizabeth Markarian, Sinan and Seta Yazejian, Constantine and Nayiri Bouboussis, and six grandchildren. [And ten million Armenians around the world.]