Dr. Rita Kuyumjian Presents Trilogy to Detroit


Student Olivia Kurajian reads from Dr. Rita Kuyumjian’s book

By Betty Apigian Kessel

DETROIT — Who better than a specialist in the field of mental health to research and write about the events of the Armenian Genocide?

The Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA), Detroit Chapter on Saturday, April 9, hosted Dr. Rita Kuyumjian, assistant professor of psychiatry at Montreal’s McGill University to do her presentation of her three-volume work titled Trilogy: April 24, 1915 Before and After — The Lives of The Survivors. The event was held at the Hagopian World of Rugs Showroom in Birmingham.

Kuyumjian was introduced by Edmond Azadian, who asked for a moment of silence for Edgar Hagopian, the recently-deceased owner of the showroom which hosts many literary and musical events for the local Armenian community.

Azadian also made a profound statement, saying, “Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan is always asking for proof of the Genocide and now it is here in Dr. Kuyumjian’s books.”

Allah himself could tell the Turks to acknowledge their crime against mankind and they still would persist in denying their culpability.

Regrettably, much of Armenian recorded historical information be it literary, musical or religious has been lost, destroyed or displaced. Kuyumjian’s scholarly research has unearthed information enhancing our view and understanding of the ghastly events that took place before and after April 24, 1915.

Edmond Azadian and Dr. Rita Kuyumjian

We all have heard of the round up of Armenian intellectuals in Istanbul as to how the Ottoman Turks planned to put an end to the matter of the Armenian Question. We know it as the Armenian Genocide. There were so many writers, lawyers, statesmen, intellectuals of every ilk, the cream of the crop as they are referred to, that perished at the hand of the Turks.

It was appalling that individual Armenians had been observing, spying on the activities of their fellow countrymen, compiling lists of their names and handing these lists over to the Turks for the roundup and eventual killings of hundreds of Armenian intellectuals. When Kuyumjian was asked by an audience member what happened to the Armenian traitors, she said they were killed by the Dashnags. A thin ripple of approval from the audience was audible.

That is another tragic part of Armenian history, how the Turks instilled fear in Armenians by promising them safety if they tattled or spied on their own brethren.

Kuyumjian described the victims thusly: “These men were intellectuals, better educated than you or I.” Many of them had attended the finest universities of Europe.

So what were they doing in Istanbul? Did they know their lives could be endangered? Someone during the question-and-answer period posed the question whether the Armenian intellectuals knew their drive for human rights for the Armenians could lead to their demise. She replied they surely did but as the intellectual leaders of their people they had a mission and bravely faced the consequences and we all now know what their fate was.

It is appropriate. Kuyumjian came to Detroit prior to the annual commemoration of April 24. She opened our eyes and ears to before unheard details of that period.

Kuyumjian’s work is a valuable addition documenting Armenian history. Those of us who are born in this country can no longer complain not enough of our history is written in English for us to consume. We are fortunate we can avail ourselves of researched material, educating us and giving us a sense of reality of what our people experienced during that period.

It is of utmost importance that we support all authors who take on the tedious task of doing translations into English by buying their books. It is another way of remaining vigilant against the denying Turks. Books written in English are vital for succeeding generations of youth of Armenian heritage to give them a proud sense of who they are.