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A family rescued due to Nansen Passport

For Nazar and Anna Janikyans, the Nansen passport was a flashlight torch  that saved their family amongst hundreds of other families.


In conversation with womennet.am, the son of Nazar and Anna Janikyans, Grigor Janikyan, who is a writer, journalist, and translator,  spoke about his grandfather’s story.  With his beautiful wife and three daughters, Grigor Misakyan, was exiled to  Dei res-Zor, though some time later he returned  to Rodosto.  An  arab wanted to adopt Grigor’s daughter Anna, who was a 5 years old at that time, hoping that  Anna  would forget her nationality and faith. Nonetheless,   Grigor redeemed her daughter with gold. After restoring the ruined house, Grigor lived in Rodosto with his family until 1922, when the founder and first president of Turkish Republic, Kemal Ataturk, imposed the survivors of the Armenian Genocide to change nationality or leave the country. Armenian people chose the second.


Charles Aznavour’s sister Aida presented this story in her book, – how their family left Istanbul and settled in France due to Nansen passport. “If there were no Nansen passport, Charles would not be Charles”, – wrote Aida.   Without any certificate of identification Armenian people were deported, and forced to spread throughout the world – Greece, Bulgaria, France, elsewhere. It was then when Nansen implemented a never heard humanitarian step, creating an opportunity to save hundreds of Armenians.  He took great responsibility on behalf of  the Armenian people,  such as if any Armenian  committed a crime in any country, or had an enormous debt, Nansen would be  responsible for it, – says Grigor Janikyan.


From 1923-1924, Janikyan’s family settled in Bulgarian city of Haskovo together with dozens of Armenian families There they all  received Nansen passports. Expatriate Armenians were evacuated from Turkey, and ships took them to  different locations.   Though the most tragic and painful  fact was that in a document given by Turkey it was mentioned that the Armenians had no right to return and they were exiled from their homeland forever.


-My father and mother used to tell me that those not having Nansen passport were not considered  human beings, as they were not registered, even if they were killed or robbed in the streets, there was no document confirming their identity, – says Grigor Janikyan, – in 1946, our family immigrated to Soviet Armenia together with thousands of families. My mother used to tell me that people on the “Russia” ship were taken their Nansen passports away and were given passports of the Soviet Armenia instead.


According to Grigor Janikyan, today there are no Armenians with Nansen passports in the world, as they were given citizenship and passports of the certain countries. The writer considers it to be a fatal mistake, that when Armenians received Nansen passports, they were considered deprived of their homeland, but when they received citizenship of  other countries, the Turikish announced that they were  not without a homeland; they  were citizens of this or that country. However, Nansen passports helped Armenians to survive in any corner of the world. This  was Nansen’s huge role which will remain in the history of the Armenian people forever.


One cannot have memory if he has no past. This memory brought Grigor Janikyan to his grandfather’s homeland – Rodosto, current Tekridagh, preserved ruins of his grandfather’s house in Saint Kong district. “I do not wish even my enemy to feel what I felt during this week”, – saying this, Grigor Janikyan concluded his story.


Read more on our Website:


Fridtjof Nansen – The conscience of the world /film/

There is no original Nansen passport in the Armenian Genocide Museum

UNHCR names Afghan refugee teacher Aqeela Asifi its 2015 Nansen Refugee Award winner


Syrian-Armenian refugees at Nansen museum


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