Life before Independence


Sara Tsaturyan always has her four children, nine grandchildren, and her four great grandchildren to come to her house and visit. Sara does the best she can to still support her family that is in need, since she supported her family throughout the whole time Armenia was in bad condition when fighting for independence against the Soviet Union. Sara lives alone close to her youngest daughter. Sara takes care of everything and she makes the best out of it. Sara says that she struggled supporting her family during the late 1980s and the early 1990s; but she did her best and thatís all that matters, plus right now her family is happy. Sara knows that even though it wasnít the type of life she wanted her family to have or her family wished for her, she did her best and now everything is great. Now at the age of eighty-one she can succeed in any life struggles


I was born in 1927. I was born in Iran, in a city called Tehran. Then I immigrated to Armenia. I lived in Armenia since the year 1968, twenty one years. I lived there until 1989, when Armenia was still part of the Soviet Union and had not fully declared independence yet. I lived there during the time when Armenia was having difficulties. There was the war with Karabakh over land and the Leninakan Earthquake had recently hit. Armenia was in poor condition during my last years living there. When Armenia was declaring independence I was living in Armenia, in the city Abovyan. It was in the year 1988 when Armenia took its first step to declare independence.


It was only me and my husband living in Armenia, my kids and their families were living in America. I was not working when Armenia was on slowly trying to gain independence. I was sixty-two years old. I retired. During the final movements of gaining independence my husband and I were here in the United States. We either were taking care of the kids or we were working.  My family left Armenia earlier than me and I left during 1989 when Armenia was still fighting for independence, Armenia became fully independent on September 23, 1991. Neither my family nor I have lived in Armenia when it was fully independent.


For me I found life better when Armenia was part of the Soviet Union because I really havenít lived in Armenia when it was independent. I left Armenia when the war was going on basically Armenia became independent when after I left. Even when Armenia was part of the Soviet Union life was not bad, life was actually okay.


I remember that people in Abovyan were really angry so they began to protest. This protest was for a factory that was opening up and people didnít want the factory to open up because they knew that the factory would make the air dirty, and pollute the air. People wanted clean air not dirty, nasty, air. There was a meeting because people were surprised that this would be happening in Armenia when it was still part of the Soviet Union. People came out with posters and started protesting and saying, ďKarabakh mer neĒ (Karabakh is ours). Everyone realized that since people are shouting that and posters had that saying that the movement of getting our land, Karabakh, back is actually beginning since the land has been ruled by Azerbaijan people for seventy or more years. We did whatever it takes to get our land back. After I saw the protest I heard how the war was beginning on the radio and on the television. When a war begins that means there needs to be people to fight, so people started to come and take men from ages eighteen to forty to fight for the independence. My kids were not in Armenia at the time this was happening, but I remember they came and took my neighbor, Artak, who was only eighteen years old. He had no choice, but to go and fight. After about fifteen days later his mother and I heard the news that he was found dead with fourteen other people under a big pile of snow, all fifteen of them were frozen to death.


A lot of people died, because when this war began Armenia didnít have an army or a military, there were no soldiers. There was no separate army just for Armenia because since we were part of the Soviet Union and there was a war going on only one army fought which was Soviet Unions. Plus when Armenia made its own army to fight Soviet Union the soldiers were not prepared and experienced.  Of course I lost other than just my neighbor, I lost more neighbors and family members, also family friends or people I knew. I knew a lot of the people that died. They bought the dead bodies back and you would see the people who were killed. Not all were killed, there were some people who disappeared and could not be found. It wasnít only those people who I may have lost; I lost people who lived in Azerbaijan, so many Armenians lived there. There was a city called Sumgait, which had the most Armenians. The Turks came to that city and tortured people. It was basically like the Armenian Genocide in 1915, but it wasnít as big. The Turks tortured people by hitting them, killing pregnant women babies, cutting off ears, and tongues. The Turks beat people up and murdered them. My neighborís family members lived there. The family was either hurt or they disappeared, I donít remember that very well. But basically we all lived an event like the Armenian Genocide, just a smaller version.


When the war just began, everyone didnít want the war to happen because no one had any hope that Armenia would actually be able to gain independence from Soviet Union.


I remember this event because I knew so many people that died for fighting for Armeniaís independence, such as my eighteen year old neighbor. The people that died will always be remembered. Armenia was in bad condition. There were those things that you will always remember, even though they might be sad things, this is one thing that I will always remember. Thank God that now everything is okay

Interviewed by Arpi Arutyunyan