Rehan Manoukian was born in 1910 in Taron. She told the story of how they were banished from their homes on April 24, 1915. They were sent to Van, where her grandmother and younger brother died. The Turks killed her parents, and she miraculously escaped and got into an orphanage in Tbilisi.
I was born in Taron. Mesrop Mashtots also was from Taron. There was a church and the Monastery of St. Astvadsadsin in our village. Many pilgrims came to Taron. Khout was close to Taron. My father’s mother was from Khout.
On April 24, 1915, we had got up early before the sunrise; my father had to go to the fields and my mother had to bake bread. I had a younger brother. Suddenly the Turk soldiers, rifles on their shoulders, rushed into our house and said: “War is going on, our sultan has ordered that we should deport the Armenians.”
In fifteen-twenty minutes they drew us out of our house: we were surrounded by askyars who shouted, “Hurry up, hurry up.” This way they drove us out of our village. We saw that they had deported the Armenians of the neighboring village of Khoumb, too. On this side of the monastery we were climbing up; on the other side – the people from Khoumb. They brought us to Khout; I’ve already told that my father’s mother was from Khout and she lived there. Half of the inhabitants of Khout were Armenians, the other half were Yezidis. They deported us like a flock of sheep. After us they had started plundering our houses. Walking like this, hungry, thirsty, tired and exhausted we reached Van-Artamet. We rested there a little. There, my grandma and my brother died. My father buried them with his own hands.
We came out of Van. We walked at night for safety. It was already dark, and we were walking, when we reached the Turkish tentage, their dogs began to bark. The Turks came and surrounded us, searched the males, took their guns and then took them aside and killed them. They took the women and the children to their tents. They had heard, however, that the Russian army was coming, they came and said: “Those who want, we’ll take them to the Russians.” My mother said: “You’re Turks, you killed my son, I won’t stay with you, I’ll go to the Russians.”
The Turks drew us forward, brought us to the edge of a valley and fired. When they killed shot at my mother, I fell on her crying, my nose got wounded, my hand was broken and fell loose, and I lost consciousness. The Turks thought that I was also dead; they left us and went away. I remained on the corpses. It was silent all around. I was in great pain; my nose and my hand were aching badly. The stars began to twinkle. Then it was morning and the sun rose. I don’t remember how much time had passed. Then I saw the brother of my uncle’s wife, who was about nine or ten. He had come and seen that I was alive on my mother’s corpse and I was then sitting on her; I was not big enough to understand that my mother was already dead. The boy took me by the hand and we began to walk. There was no one about, only corpses; the Turks had killed everybody and then had left.
We, two children, were going hand in hand; when night fell we hugged each other and fell asleep. I was wounded; my nose was wounded, the blood had dried in it, my broken hand was hanging loose, but we were walking hungry, thirsty, not a single human being was seen around. All of a sudden we saw a tent. My friend spoke in Yezidi, and they understood that the Turks had harmed us. They took pity on us, took us to their tent and killed a goat-kid. Eighty-three years have passed, but I cannot forget it: they removed the skin of the kid and they covered my hand and nose with it. Then they gave a jar to the boy and sent him for water. He went; I began crying when I saw my new brother had gone. Then he came back, and I stopped crying.
The Yezidis said: “Stay with us for a week, let the wounds heal, then you may go.” But we did not stay. They gave us bread and cheese to eat on our way and we left. We went and reached the Russians. My uncle’s wife saw us, came and took us with her. Then she gave me a tin-pot and said: “You’re wounded, go and ask for some food from the Russians. I went, brought some food, and we ate.”
The Russians set out towards Russia, and we began walking with them. My uncle’s wife was on my one side and that boy on the other. From the other side two women said to my uncle’s wife: “Why are you taking that wounded girl with you? She’s good-for-nothing.”
She listened to what they said, and gave me to the Russian soldiers. My new brother left me in tears. The Russians took me to a cart covered with tarpaulin, where there were many wounded soldiers. Together with them I came to Igdir.
There were very many refugees there, all of them sitting on the ground. The Russian soldiers came and asked my name and surname, I did not know my name. News was spread about me that Manouk’s daughter was wounded, but had remained alive. Then a girl came, saw me and said: “I know her, she is Manouk’s daughter.” She had my name written: Rehan Manouk Manoukian. Then good people brought me to Yerevan.
Our family was rather large: my grandfather, my uncle, his wife, my father, mother, my younger brother. All of them were killed by the Turks, only I survived with this split nose like a rabbit’s and broken hand. See, I have not got a finger, it’s broken off, and I’m ashamed to speak with you, but: it can’t be helped, this is my fate. They brought me to the orphanage of Gharakilissa. I remained there for a year and a half; they gave me clothes, shoes. Then they took us to Tiflis when the [Russian] Tsar was overthrown. The Nersessian School of Tiflis had become an orphanage then. They had gathered there all the orphans. Even the corridors were full of orphans.
In 1918 we were taken to Kars. Amercom protected the orphans, brought them to Kars. We were at dinner when the fighting of Kars began…
Verjine Svazlian. The Armenian Genocide: Testimonies of the Eyewitness Survivors. Yerevan: “Gitoutyoun” Publishing House of NAS RA, 2011, testimony 6, pp. 93-94.