Writer Smpad Devletian Dies


DerounianBy Hagop Vartivarian

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Writer and Armenian Democratic Liberal activist Smbad Devletian died here on March 24 at the age of 93.

He was born on the Greek island of Lesbos in 1923, where his parents had fled to from Turkey. He studied through fourth grade in the Greek school in Kavala. He went to fifth and six grades at the Armenian school of Kavala, and afterwards continued his education at the Melkonian Educational Institute of Cyprus, from which he graduated in 1942.

He went to England to attend university, and after passing all the law examinations of the Council of Legal Education, he received the title of Barrister-at-Law. In addition, he graduated from the department of jurisprudence of the University of London.

Devletian practiced law in Cyprus from 1956, but he was also a writer by avocation. He chose law so that he could become a financially independent individual, and he was able to maintain an independent stance on Armenian community and national affairs, though this always was consonant with Armenian Democratic Liberal thinking.

He played an active role in all aspects of Cypriot-Armenian life until 1986. Among other things, he was chairman for approximately one decade of the board of trustees of the Cypriot-Armenian schools. He remained a member of the board of trustees of the Melkonian Educational Institute for 25 years, until 1986.

He participated in the second and eighth conventions of the Armenian Writers Union in Yerevan.

Throughout the Soviet Armenian era, he firmly remained a partisan of Armenian patriotism on the island. He was one of the leaders of Nicosia’s Armenian Democratic Liberal (ADL) Vahan Tekeyan Chapter.

Devletian, using the penname of Derounian, published the following works: Minchev veratartz [Until Return] (Cyprus, 1946), Lse dghas [Listen, My Son] (Cyprus, 1948), Hametsogh aykapats [Lingering Dawn] (Beirut, 1959), Jarakayght u mshush [Ray and Fog] (Beirut, 1968) and Darakir dagher [Exile Poetry] (Yerevan, 1981; and a second edition in Beirut, 1996).

He contributed to the ADL press, and in particular to the Beirut newspaper Zartonk and the literary journal Shirag.

He married Takouhi Bchakjian in 1942. She, too, was a graduate of Melkonian. Their son Asadour Devletian was also a Melkonian graduate and an ADL leader. Takouhi worked as a teacher and one of the leaders of the Girl Scout movement in Cyprus who was helpful to Melkonian’s Girl Scout group. Takouhi in 2007 published her autobiography, Voghchoyn geank [Greetings, Life].

(Translated from the Armenian)