Rwandan, Armenian Genocides Compared in Lecture

Claudia Anaya

The battle to keep the Armenian genocide in people’s eyes was brought to campus April 22 by Father Vazken Movsesian during a lecture in which he compared it to the Rwanda genocide.

Movsesian, a grandchild of Armenian genocide survivors and priest in the Armenian Orthodox Church, spoke in Kreider Hall of his 2006 trip to Rwanda, where genocide had taken place in 1994.

“Bizarre inhumanity is not unusual because it happened to so many people and continued to happen in 2006,” said Movsesian, comparing the Armenian genocide of 1915 to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and ongoing such human rights abuses.

Movsesian went to Rwanda to meet survivors of the 1994 genocide since he could not speak to the survivors of the Armenian genocide.

“I wanted to talk to the survivors of the Armenian genocide,” said Movsesian, who then realized that “there were none.”
Movsesian talked about a story he had read about an Armenian genocide survivor who died a few years ago.

In the book, the survivor remembers that as a 9-year-old boy his father was shot and killed at point blank range and he saw his mother being raped and killed by a group of men as he hid behind furniture.

After the men had left, said Movsesian, the young boy took a spoon to dig a small grave to bury his parents. He later saw dogs dig up his parents’ bodies and eat them.
The story is the same story that many survivors, told. “Your grandparents went through this,” said Movsesian looking around the room.

During his trip, Movsesian visited the Rwanda genocide museum where he stepped on walkways where 260,000 people were buried and saw pictures of young kids who survived with their written stories of what they had gone through.

“The stories were the same as the Armenian Genocide,” said Movsesian, raising his voicein anger.

Movsesian remembers telling himself: “What happened in Armenia is happening today.”
On his third day in Rwanda, Movsesian noticed that there were no “gray-haired people.”

Most of the “gray-haired people” had died in the genocide. The ones who were left, were the people that who were once kids, the ones that who had seen their parents die.
Movsesian met a few gray-haired people, most of them suffering from AIDS that had been passed on by the men who raped them.
There, he also met a woman who as a child had to raise her five brothers and sisters after their parents had been killed.
“I saw my grandmother in this woman.. The only difference was the color of our skin,” said Movsesian.

After saying that the Armenian genocide has not been recognized by the United States government like it should be, Movsesian mentioned that the people in Rwanda had two rooms devoted to the Armenian genocide.
“I don’t need the president to tell me that the genocide happened,” said Movsesian, referring to the president of the United States, “people in Rwanda have two rooms devoted to it.”