The Armenian Relief Society Commemorates the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide in New York City

“…as long as I am alive, Turkey will not join the European Union…”

Dr. Eleni Theocharous, Member of the European Parliament

Several events dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, initiated by the ARS Central Executive Board, with the cooperation of the Regional Executive of ARS/Eastern USA, were held with great success from March 5-7, 2015 in New York City. The weekend kicked off on Thursday evening, March 5th, with the official opening of the exhibit entitled, “Stitching to Survive: Handwork of Armenian Women”, at United Nations Headquarters. This exhibit was organized jointly by the ARS Central Executive Board and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia at the UN. The function was attended by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia at the UN, the ARS Central Executive Board, members of ARS/Canada, ARS/Eastern and Western USA, and ARS/South America, as well as UN and NGO representatives, clergymen, and both Armenian and non-Armenian guests.

ARS Central Executive Board Chairperson, Vicky Marachelian, opened the proceedings, stressing the dedication and tenacity exhibited by Armenian women at all junctures of Armenian history to preserve the Armenian family and culture. As Mrs. Marachelian stated, “The exhibit demonstrates the contribution of Armenian women to culture and it pays tribute to the cultural expression of Armenian women. This miraculous feminine force, dedicated to humanitarian endeavors, did not emerge overnight. Emerging from the crucible of oppression, these future ARS members made the daunting journey from the old world to the new, from refugee to worker, from dependence to self-reliance.” Referring to the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, Mrs. Marachelian said, “As the year 2015 marks 20 years of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the ARS, as an ECOSOC accredited NGO, is addressing issues of women’s empowerment and gender equality. This exhibit intends to tell the story of women who empowered themselves to support their families.”

Following Mrs. Marachelian’s address, Armenia’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, noted the unique nature of this exhibition, as a symbol of the historic endurance of Armenian women who had survived the crucible of the Genocide. His Excellency continued by mentioning that, beyond survival, the Armenian woman had mastered enough resolve to rebuild a new life on foreign shores. He stated that the exhibit shares a story of people who, 100 years ago, experienced the most heinous and dehumanizing mass exterminations and deportations, which were defined as “crimes against humanity and civilization.” He concluded his remarks with words of high praise for the Armenian Relief Society’s persistent input in achieving the success of this function, indicative of the resolve and commitment of our people that made possible the admission and raising of the Armenian flag at the UN.

Following Ambassador Mnatsakanyan’s remarks, Mrs. Marachelian, who, along with her husband Harout Marachelian, were the primary contributors to the event, and the Ambassador cut the ribbon, officially opening the exhibit for the evening’s guests. It should be noted that this Armenian exhibit at the United Nations Headquarters is being held at a time when thousands of representatives from around the world are in New York City to take part in the sessions of the 59th Conference of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59). The exhibit demonstrates, for all those who visit, the Armenian woman’s everlasting will to survive and thrive after the genocidal attempt at annihilation of the Armenian nation.

The participation and performance of violinist Dianna Vasilyan enhanced the evening’s atmosphere, to the enjoyment and appreciation of all those present. The guests also enjoyed the hors d’oeuvres generously provided for the event by the Almayass Armenian Restaurant of New York City.

The beautiful items on display were provided by the Armenian Museum of America of Watertown, MA and ARS/Eastern USA. The ARS Central Executive Board expresses its deep gratitude to the management of the Armenian Museum of America for its kind cooperation, as well as to curator, Mrs. Susan Lind-Sinanian, for her active participation in setting up this exhibition of Armenian women’s handwork. The Board also extends sincere appreciation to all the contributors to the exhibit, particularly to the main sponsors of the event; Mrs. and Mrs. Harout and Vicky Marachelian, whose generous donation made the unqualified success of this historic endeavor possible, once again sending a message to the world, by way of the United Nations, of the continuous resiliency and creative talent of the Armenian woman.

On Friday, March 6th, the symposium entitled “Rebuilding a Nation: The Armenian Woman’s Century of Resistance and Empowerment”, organized by the ARS/CEB Genocide Centennial Committee, took place in the Salvation Army Hall in the presence of a large audience. Participating in the conference were Dr. Eleni Theocharous, Member of European Parliament and leader of EU-Armenia Friendship Group; Dr. Isabelle Kaprielian-Churchill, Emerita Professor of Armenian Immigration History, Department of History, California State University, Fresno; Scout Tufankjian, photojournalist and author of There is Only the Earth: Images from the Armenia Diaspora Project; Dr. Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy, author of Sacred Justice: The Voices and Legacy of the Armenian Operation Nemesis; and Bared Maronian, Executive Producer, Armenoid Production Team.

On behalf of the ARS Central Executive Board, Mrs. Caroline Chamavonian opened the proceedings, inviting those present to stand and honor the memory of our martyrs with a moment of silence. Following this solemn beginning, Mrs. Chamavonian welcomed the participants and invited the master of ceremonies, Mrs. Pauline Getzoyan of the ARS Central Executive Board, to introduce the designated speakers of the symposium. Each speaker presented his or her views, in a variety of approaches, on the role of the Armenian woman during and after the Genocide, as a powerful force in the survival and revival of family and culture.

In her address, Dr. Theocharous focused on the theme of the empowerment of Armenian women, noting the ravages of the Armenian Genocide years and the role played by Armenian women during the Artsakh Liberation War. She expressed admiration for the laudable role played by the ARS in those difficult times, and stated that, being fully aware of the just cause of Armenian demands for recognition and reparations, she feels honored participating in the centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Dr. Theocharous concluded her remarks by solemnly stating, “As long as I am alive, Turkey will not join the European Union, unless it becomes a civilized country, unless it recognizes the Armenian Genocide, and unless it gets out its troops from Cyprus.”

Dr. Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill’s presentation was centered on the theme of Armenian handwork and its impact on the lives of those who survived the Armenian Genocide and used needlework as a means to support their families. She emphasized the importance of the role played by feminine creativity in the struggle for physical and spiritual survival of the devastated Armenian nation.

Scout Tufankjian, in her turn, displayed emblematic photographs depicting world-wide Armenian communities and synthesized the lifestyles of Diasporan Armenians. Bared Maronian reevaluated the role of the pre- and post-Genocide Armenian women by showing segments of his films, “Orphans of the Genocide” and “Women of 1915”. Dr. Mesrobian MacCurdy spoke of the traditional Armenian woman’s silent yet persistent toil, using her grandmother, Eliza Der Melkonian, one of the founders of ARS, as a prime and inspirational example.

A commemorative dinner and cultural program dedicated to the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, organized by the ARS/Eastern USA Regional Executive, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern USA See of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and the Armenian Relief Society Central Executive Board, took place in New Jersey on Saturday, March 7th. In attendance were Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Armenia’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vice-Prelate of the Eastern USA Prelacy, several members of the clergy, members of the ARS Central Executive Board, and a wide variety of guests, including members of ARS/Canada, ARS/Eastern and Western USA, ARS/South America and a large number of ARS supporters.

This year, once again, the Armenian Relief Society participated in the 59th Conference of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Within the context of the Armenian Genocide Centennial commemorative events, the ARS organized a workshop entitled “Women and Diaspora: From Past to Post-2015”, in cooperation with the UN Permanent Missions of Armenia and Cyprus, as well as several other NGOs. The workshop was opened by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus at the UN, Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou. Representing women living and working in the Diaspora, Nanore Barsoumian, Editor of the Armenian Weekly, moderated the discussions, inviting the participants to express their opinions and experiences.

On behalf of the ARS, member Nora Simonian expressed her views on the role of Diasporan women, describing the Armenian mother as the pillar of the family and as the link to the Homeland and Armenian culture. Other panelists included Dr. Jim MacPherson from the University of the Highlands and Islands; Semhar Araia, Executive Director of the Diasporan African Women’s Network; Sarah Gammage, Policy Adviser, UN Women; and Harriet Pavles George, former judge of the Housing part of the Civil Court of the City of New York. Concluding remarks were made by Ambassador Mnatsakanyan. (Details will be forthcoming.)

These four days of commemorating the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide in New York City, initiated by the ARS Central Executive Board, effectively demonstrated the indomitable resolve of the Armenian woman, along with the ARS mission and calling, as torchbearers of the empowerment of women and their role as guardians of Armenian identity, both in the Homeland and the Diaspora.








Armenian Relief Society to Commemorate Centennial with Events in March

The Armenian Relief Society (ARS), Inc. in cooperation with the ARS Eastern USA are planning a series of events from March 5-7 to commemorate the Armenian Genocide Centennial in the New York/New Jersey area. On Thursday, March 5, from 6-8 p.m., the ARS, along with the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations (U.N.), will be hosting a reception at the U.N. to mark the opening of “Stitching to Survive: Handwork of Armenian Women,” an exhibit on Armenian textiles. The exhibit will be open to the public from March 2-13; those wishing to attend the reception are required to secure a pass to enter the U.N. building by contacting the ARS Central Office at or the ARS Eastern Region Office at , the latest by March 3, 2015.On Friday, March 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., ARS has organized a full-day conference to take place at the Salvation Army Auditorium titled, “Rebuilding a Nation: The Armenian Woman’s Century of Resistance and Empowerment.” Speakers include Dr. Eleni Theocharous, a member of the European Parliament and head of the “EU-Armenia Friendship Group”; Dr. Isabelle Kaprielian-Churchill, Emerita, professor of Armenian and immigration history at California State University, Fresno; and Bared Maronian, the executive director of Armenoid Productions. Admission is free and includes lunch; registration is required by e-mailing the ARS Central Office at or the ARS Eastern Region Office at . The Salvation Army Auditorium is located at 221 East 52nd St. in New York.

The final event will take place on Saturday, March 7, from 7-10 p.m. at Waterside Restaurant, 7800 River Rd. in North Bergen, N.J. Under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America (Eastern) and the ARS, Inc., the Cultural Evening will feature award-winning singer/songwriter Hooshere; renowned artist Kevork Mourad, accompanied by cellist Eddie Boghossian; and a recitation by Zivart Balikjian. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased online by visiting

For more information, including hotel information and activities contact the ARS Central office; e-mail, Tel: 617-926-5892.


ARS Initiates its Presence in Belgium

On October 15, 2014 during a special two-day visit to Brussels, members of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Central Executive Board, Mrs. Vicky Marachelian, Chairperson, and Mrs. Liza Avakian, Adviser, attended a meeting with representatives of the Armenian National Committee of Belgium, ARS supporters, Homenetmen (HMEM), Hamazkayin, Armenian Youth Organization offices, and author Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, in the presence of Mr. Ashot Ghulyan, Speaker of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic – Artsakh National Assembly.Following this meeting, on October 16, in light of the keen interest shown by the Belgian-Armenian community in the global humanitarian activities of the Armenian Relief Society, a decision was reached and implemented on the premises of the Brussels “Armenian Home”, to found a local ARS entity: the ARS/Belgium At-large Chapter. Following Chairperson Marachelian’s warm welcome to the initiates, the two ARS Central Executive members gave a concise presentation of ARS history, structure, mission and on-going programs to the 26 new members. Following the presentation, the members immediately convened and elected their seven-member executive and discussed the new ARS entity’s initial organizational steps.Upon this occasion, ARS, Inc. Chairperson Marachelian stated:
“We can, with great pride, state that the ARS, as an independent, all-Armenian humanitarian organization, extends its far-reaching support whenever and wherever our people’s physical, social and cultural needs require aid and assistance. Today, the world-wide ARS family demonstrates once more that our Society, after over a century of service, retains its vigor and youthful optimism, as it did in the past, never losing sight of a vision of an always-brighter future, maintained by a rejuvenating approach of adapting to ever-changing conditions and putting to use all available possibilities and opportunities of the 21st century.”During this visit, the ARS Central Executive Board representatives also participated in events taking place within the European Union Parliament circle promoting the Artsakh Republic, meeting, among other notables, Speaker of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic- Artsakh National Assembly; Mr. Ashot Ghulyan, and members of the EU-Armenia Friendship Group, EU Parliamentarians Mrs. Elenie Theokharous and Mr. Frank Engel.Photos:
1. Representatives of the ARS Central Executive Board with members of the newly formed ARS/Belgium chapter.







2. Mr. Ashot Ghulyan, Speaker of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic – Artsakh National Assembly meets with representatives of the ANC of Belgium, the ARS, Hamazkayin, HMEM, AYF, and author Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, at the Hay Tad office, in Brussels..







3. Left to right: Mesrob Shaboyan, diplomat, Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, Brussels. ARS, Inc. chairperson Mrs. Vicky Marashlian. Artak Zakaryan, MP, Republic of Armenia National Assembly, Chairman of the standing committee on foreign Relations, head of the Armenian delegation to the Euronest. H.E. Mr. Tatoul Markaryan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the Kingdom of Belgium, Head of Mission of the Republic of Armenia to the European Union.