Dirouhi Haigas was a young Turkish-Armenian girl of 7 when she and her family were abruptly uprooted from their home and deported on foot to the southern desert. A native of Konya, Turkey, she had lived an idyllic life up to that time with her parents, grandparents, aunt, and uncles. Her father was in the family business as a leather merchant, and her uncles were amateur musicians who loved nothing more than to get together with friends and relatives to enjoy folk music and dancing. This life came to an abrupt end with the outbreak of World War I. In the middle of a Sunday afternoon in the spring of 1915, church bells rang out unexpectedly, calling Armenians to the church square, where they were told that they were to be deported within the next two weeks and allowed to take with them only what they could carry. Soon after, the family was forced to leave their ancestral home, never to return.
Dirouhi’s experience was similar to that of most of the 1.5 Armenian victims of the Armenian Genocide. The difference is that Konya is located in the center of Anatolia, far from the war zone to the east where most of the Turkish Armenians lived and where the Turkish Government claimed the exigencies of war as an excuse for their actions. There was no fighting in the Konya area, the Armenians posed no threat, and the deportations were clearly part of the Turkish Government’s brutal policy to eliminate its Armenian population.
Author: Barbara Merguerian, PhD, Director of the Armenian Women’s Archives of the Armenian International Women’s Association. www.aiwainternational.org