- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 April 25, 2003 

Honoring the Honorable: Norweigan paid tribute at Genocide memorial

A woman dressed in an Armenian national costume is placing the soil from Nansen's grave into the wall of Tsitsernakaberd memorial.

"Charity is real policy," said benefactor Fridtjof Nansen, who in his heart created a blissful country where everyone could find a shelter irrespective of religion and nationality.

Wednesday, on the eve of the 88th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, soil taken from Nansen's grave in Oslo, Norway, was inserted into the wall of Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan. A memorial stone bearing his name was placed next to nine previously honored foreigners who offered help to Armenians during the Genocide. Others include American diplomat Henry Morgenthau, Austrian writer Franz Werfel, French writer Anatole France and Pope Benedict XV.

A mass for the dead was offered in memory of Nansen. Archbishop Shahe Atchemyan delivered words of greeting and good wishes on behalf of Catholicos of All Armenians and quoted Nansen: "For me it's hard to believe that someone can get acquainted with the history of this remarkable people without being deeply shocked of their tragedy."

Defender of small nations, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, North Pole explorer and scientist, Nansen compared the planet to a big human heart, with a heartbeat conditioned by the right of each particle to live humanly. His several books and scientific works written about the Armenian plight and Armenian people, are true evidence of the crime.

Many people came to witness this ceremony significant for Armenia and the Armenians.

In his book "Armenia and the Near East" he wrote: "The Armenian issue is the most howling shame of the civilized world."

Nansen was a member of the Norwegian delegation of the League of Nations. When the Armenian Question was being discussed there he gave a speech in which he said: "While you are drawing borders here the whole nation is being slaughtered there; while you are dividing country here, will there be any people left to reside there?"

Nansen may best be remembered for what became known as "Nansen Passports", documents that allowed refugees into countries that previously had not accepted Armenians fleeing Turkey.


A photo of Fridtjof Nansen was brought from Norway to the museum.

"Since 1924 up to now my father has sacredly been keeping that passport, which became an instrument of feeling like a human man in a foreign country. That passport gifted him with a soul," recalls president of Armenian-Italian "Truth For Armenia" international committee Pietro Kuchukyan, who participated at the ceremony of taking soil from Nansen's grave on March 14.

Head of the National Assembly of Armenia Armen Khachatryan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Vartan Oskanian, numerous academicians, political and public figures participated at the ceremony. They delivered words of homage and paid tribute to the Great Benefactor.

"This day shows that Armenians will never forget those people who assisted and were kindhearted towards us," Oskanian said. "The process of international recognition shows that the day will come when the Armenian Genocide will enter the world history."

Nansen's day of memory started and ended with the same words of praise: "Nansen was great as a scientist, greater as a North Pole explorer and the greatest as a man."

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  Photo of the week
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Pain in Paint

Yesterday (April 24) members of Mihr youth organization gathered in a park near the State Conservatory where they used black (tragedy) and red (blood) paint to depict Mt. Ararat from its western side. On a white canvas they painted names of villages where Genocide took place.



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