“What will happen to us?” – Emotional protest at the Melkonian

“What will happen to us?” – Emotional protest at the Melkonian

Cyprus Mail
Thursday, March 25, 2004

By By Alex Mita

MOST of the old graduates protesting outside the Melkonian School
yesterday could only utter a few words before bursting in tears when
asked how they felt at the prospect of it closing down.

The institute, founded in 1926, has been the centre of Armenian
culture on the island for nearly 80 years. Now, it appears set to
close next June after a decision by the US-based board that
administers the school.

A young boy stood next to his mother holding a sign asking: “what will
happen to me?”

Next to the gates of the school, an old woman sat watching what could
be the last generation of Melkonian students stand silently at the
gates in their red sweaters, holding signs asking why their school was
being closed down.

Hrip Titanian has cancer, but the pain of watching her life’s memories
sacrificed was harder to bear than that of her terminal disease. “I
lived most of my life here,” she told the Cyprus Mail as tears rolled
down her face.

“I got engaged here and I got married here. I have cancer, and the
decision to close this place down hurt me so much that I got out of my
bed and came here to protest against their decision to close the
school down.

“I was a student in 1945 and I lived here until 1965. My father worked
as a caretaker for 35 years. We were the ones that took care of this
school, that made sure everything was in order, and now?”

“That’s all I want to say,” she broke off.

Manouk Tachouchian graduated in 1956, and moved back to Cyprus after
spending most of his mature life in London. He could barely speak
about the memories of his time as a student, his friends and what the
school meant to him.

“This also used to be a church,” he said.

“How can they sell a church, I can’t explain it, it’s just sad and
illogical. “I have so many memories at Melkonian, I was here for five
years. We had people from all over the world, from Syria, from Egypt,
Lebanon and from Armenia.

“And when now we see each other after all these years we feel like we
are seeing our brothers and sisters.

Markar Sarafian is 75 and graduated from Melkonian in 1948. Born in
Istanbul, he came to Cyprus in 1939 barely speaking a word of English
or Greek.

“I am 75, but my heart beats like a young man, perhaps faster when
Melkonian is mentioned,” he said.

“I don’t want this centre of culture, which served the Armenian people
worldwide, this light of the Armenian community to be put out. “It
will be a disaster for the Armenian people, a black day for Cyprus if
this place is destroyed.

“But this will not end, we are all united to see that decision to
close it down is rescinded and the quicker it’s done the better,
because the mother organisation AGBU’s reputation will be in tatters.”

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2004