This year we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Red Cross. The organization began its activity in the first decade of the 20th century and became the first women’s society in the Armenian reality. The Armenian Red Cross has had a greatly and significant role in the Armenians’ life, especially a relief acts address for Genocide survivors.
In 1904, when Hay Heghapokhakan Dashnaktsutiun(Armenian Revolutionary Federation) party was involved in organization of Sasun uprising, the political activity of the Armenian women began in the U.S.A. Groups of women were gradually involved in committees of Hay Heghapokhakan Dashnaktsutiun acting in the U.S cities.
Inspired by the humanitarian steps of the International Red Cross Organization, those women’s groups, through the initiative of a social figure and publicist E. Aknuni (he was traveling throughout North America in that period) adopted the official name of Red Cross under the direction of the Central American Committee of Hay Heghapokhakan Dashnaktsutiun party. On May 30, 1915 the Red Cross society of ARF convened its First meeting in Boston, where they decided to send a telegram to President of U.S.A. Wооdrow Wilson asking him to intervene and put an end to the Armenian massacres ongoing in the Ottoman Empire.
The Second meeting of the ARF Red Cross was held from 2 till 5 July 1919―the gathered delegates decided to rename ARF’s Red Cross into Armenian Red Cross. One of the important decisions of the meeting was to form a private fund to establish a hospital in the Republic of Armenia and to establish close relations with the Armenian Red Cross in Constantinople.
On 25 November 1920, the Third meeting of the Armenia Red Cross was held in Boston: it was decided to change the name of Red Cross on the basis of the Armen Garo’s letter (he was an Ambassador of the RA to the U.S.A), so that there would not be any confusion with the name of American Red Cross. From that time onwards the organization began to be called “Doughters of the Armenian Republic”.
Taking into account the fact that the American Red Cross of ARF acted as a subsidiary body of the Red Cross in Republic of Armenia, the third meeting decided to gather all the American Armenian Women’s Unions round a sole mission and ideology.
The negotiations between the Red Cross of “Daughters of Armenia” and the National Red Cross were held between April and May 1921. As a result, on July 2, 1921 a united Deputy Meeting was convened in Boston. The united name of the two Armenian Red Crosses was established: Armenian Red Cross. The organization was to be under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Red Cross recognized and ratified by the Republic of Armenia. The charter of the Armenian Red Cross had already been brought into conformity with the charter of the International Red Cross.
In January 1922, “The Central American Relief Committee for the Starving in Armenia” was formed with membership of the representatives of political parties, the Armenian Church, the AGBU and the Armenian Red Cross. Unfortunately, this union soon ceased because of the existing disagreements.
According to the decision of the Soviet Armenian government on immigration, a fund-raising activities were undertaken between April and May 1924. Over 10.000 dollars were collected of which 5.000 was sent to the National Care Society in Constantinople through the Near East relief, 1000 to the Department of the Armenian Red Cross in Athens, and 3.000 was spent on removing the refugees from Mesopotamia to Armenia.
On 25 October 1925, the first ship with 675 refugees left the port of Istanbul. 381 of them left for Armenia thanks to the financial support of the Armenian Red Cross.
Between 1926 and 1930 the Armenian Red Cross transferred a large sum of money to Greece, where it established its own kindergartens and colleges through its branches. Thus, it took the education of thousands of Armenian orphans who had somehow reached Greece.
The Armenian Red Cross allocated money to the victims of the 1926 earthquake in Leninakan. Through the Near East Relief, the union sent 1 million dollars to Armenia to repair the damage caused by the flood of Yerevan.
Faithful to the goals it has set before itself, the Armenian Red Cross has allocated financial means to poor students to improve their knowledge in European universities. In 1926 the Central Department of the Armenian Red Cross (Boston) started negotiations with the Syrian branches of the Armenian Red Cross and undertook the fulfillment of a mission with the slogan “A gold coin for one orphan” to save the Armenian orphans who had found refuge in the Arabic deserts. The work carried out for this purpose gave its results.
The 9th meeting of the deputies of the Armenian Red Cross was convened on 26 July 1929 and lasted for four days, with representatives of some departments from the Armenian Diaspora participating in it. The agenda of the meeting comprised the issue of reconsidering the charter of the Organization. It was decided to merge all Red Cross societies of all the Armenian communities into the Armenian Red Cross. Under the Charter, every country was to have only a single Red Cross Organization, with the Regional Department of the USA performing the duties of a central department.
The Regional Departments of the Armenian Red Cross were those of U.S.A, Greece, Europe, Iran and Iraq. The Armenian Red Cross Regional Department of Greece was centered in Athens; that of Iran in Tabriz; that of Mesopotamia in Baghdad, and the one of Western Europe in Paris. New regional departments were established in Syria (centered in Aleppo), Romania (centered in Bukharest), Bulgaria (centered in Sophia) and Thracia-Macedonia (centered in Salonica) with their old and new networks.
22 February was proclaimed as an “Armenian Red Cross Day”. In 1925 a calendar was published with the logo of the Armenian Red Cross (and the income received from its sale was used for the needs of the Union).
The ideology adopted by the Armenian Red Cross consists in unfolding an activity through united efforts to preserve the Armenian identity and reach the revival of the Armenian Homeland, also contributing to the Armenian-spirited education and upbringing of the coming generations in the Armenian communities and proving through action that it is quite possible to reach the realization of noble and valuable objectives for the prosperity of humanity.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Red Cross Organization AGMI issued a memorial postcard.