Walking for Armenia to remember the massacred
Walking for Armenia to remember the massacred –
Vartan Melkonian and his daughter Veronica
Getbucks – It was the biggest massacre in history before the Holocaust. It was barbaric in the most cruel way, says Armenian Vartan Melkonian.
In 1915, leaders of the Turkish government massacred around 1.5million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire.
Vartan’s grandparents were killed in the massacre while his parents, as children, grew up in a refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, where Vartan was born.
He said: “I want to remember my grandparents who perished and my parents who, as children, walked 1,000km to go to Lebanon in refugee camps, so I am remembering them rather than making any political agenda.”
Vartan and his 21-year-old daughter Veronica will complete the walk, some time between February and April.
The walk will start in the former Armenian, Van in Turkey and the route will continue to Lebanon.
It will retrace the steps that thousands of Armenians took in search of a better life in Lebanon.
They are determined to complete the walk even though it stretches over war-torn Syrian, although he does admit to being very concerned about his daughter’s welfare and the threat of ISIS.
The walk was university student Veronica’s idea and the father and daughter team plan to stay in inns and a tent during their six-week trek.
Vartan will meet the Turkish ambassador about any possible security issues during the walk.
Vartan said: “If people want to donate then that is welcome and it will go to the orphanage where I was in Lebanon.
“It is like when people put flowers on graves to remember.
“This is what we want to do, we want to remember them and see the treacherous, barren land through which they walked. Veronica doesn’t know anything about her grandparents, nothing of our history and she wants to know.”
Vartan, who is in his sixties, but has no birth certificate to give an exact year, said: “My father was rescued by American missions and him and my mother were brought to a refugee camp in Lebanon.
“Both sets of their parents passed away during the massacre.”
The father-of-two said: “When we finish and arrive in Lebanon, I think that the Armenian community will make a big noise of it.
“They said that they will come with trumpets and drums.”
After living on the streets of Beirut for 10 years, Vartan fled during a civil war to come to England where he has had a successful music career.
In a YouTube clip on the team’s Virgin Money Giving page for the walk, Veronica said: “I know nothing about my family history beyond my father.
“As it is coming up to the 100th anniversary of the massacre, I thought it was only natural to do the walk to trace the route that our father’s parents took in exile to experience the same plight as they did.”
See the route at www.walkingforarmenia.com.
To sponsor them visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/WalkingForArmenia