New Document on Armenian Genocide Discovered in Paris Library
ISTANBUL — Turkish historian Umit Kurt and journalist Alev Er during their studies in Paris Nubarian Library have discovered a document on the Armenian Genocide, hitherto unpublished, the author of which is the well-known female writer of that time Zabel Yesayan. The latter’s 11-page document tells the details of what happened with the Armenian women in 1915 and after it. Zabel Yesayan submitted the document to the representative of the Armenian delegation at Paris Conference, Poghos Nubar Pasha, according to an article published in the Istanbul-based Armenian “Agos” periodical which has presented some parts of the document.
Yesayan particularly mentions that since the beginning of the war “Ittihat ve terakki” party (Union und Progress Party) systematically exterminated the Empire’s non-Muslim population. Young women and children, whose number was more than 200 thousand, were forcibly kidnapped.
Zabel Yesayan a gifted novelist was born in 1878 in Scutari, a district of Constantinople. From an early age, she wanted to be a writer and as early as age 17 she published a short piece in a literary magazine. She obtained higher education in Paris where she worked her way through the Sorbonne by revising a French-Armenian dictionary and by writing articles and short stories for French and Armenian magazines. She returned to Constantinople at the age of 30 to enjoy an active literary life, well recognized for her talent. The Young Turks ranked her with Zohrab, Zartarian, Siamanto and Varoujan and placed her name – the only female writer – on their list for liquidation. She escaped to Bulgaria and from there managed to reach the Caucasus where she documented much of the atrocities taking place. In 1918 she went to Egypt, then to Cilicia and then to Paris, serving in the Armenian Delegation for Peace. Disillusioned, she became a Communist and urged all Diaspora Armenians to recognize Soviet Armenia as the only motherland.
In 1927 she visited Soviet Armenia for the first time. Shortly afterwards she was invited to establish permanent residence. In 1933 at the age of 55, she left a comfortable Parisian life and settled in Soviet Armenia with her daughter, Sophie and son, Hrant. In Yerevan, she taught Comparative Literature and French Literature at the University, wrote numerous articles and published prolifically. It is believed, but not confirmed that she was drowned and most likely died in exile sometime in 1943.