EUROPEAN ARMENIAN FEDERATION
for Justice and Democracy
Avenue de la Renaissance 10
B – 1000 BRUXELLES
Tel./Fax : +32 (0) 2 732 70 27
E-mail : [email protected]
For Immediate Release
May 27th, 2004
Contact: Talline Tachdjian
Tel.: +32 (0)2 732 70 27
NORWEGIAN CITY OF KRAGERØ HONOURS BODIL BIØRN, UNSUNG HERO AND RELIEF WORKER
DURING ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
Brussels, Belgium – On the initiative of the Armenian community of
Aleppo, Syria, the Norwegian city of Kragerø (11000 inhabitants)
has erected a statue honoring Bodil Catharina Biørn, who spent 30
years of her life providing relief to the Armenians of Turkey before,
during and after the Armenian Genocide. The statue will be unveiled
on Saturday, May 29.
After studying nursing in Germany, Bodil Biørn, the daughter of
a wealthy ship owner, left her native Kragerø in 1905 to go to
Turkey. There, as part of benevolent evangelical missions, she provided
aid to the Christian populations, and especially to the Armenians,
who endured oppression under the Ottomans and who were regularly
victims of extortion.
Stationed in various regions of the Ottoman Empire (e.g., Van,
Cilicia), Bodil Biørn was in Mush in 1915 when the Genocide began. She
poured her energy into providing assistance to survivors there and
later in Armenia, during the First Republic (1918-1920).
After the Sovietization of Armenia, she continued her philathropical
work in the Armenian orphanages of Syria and Lebanon, where she
adopted an orphan she named Fridjof. She finally left the region to
return to her country in 1936.
The commemorative events in Kragerø are scheduled as follows:
o Saturday, May 29th
12.00 – Exhibition “The Ships Owner’s Daughter” in the Kragerø Museum
12.30 – Address by Jussi Flemming Biørn, son of Fridjof, “Bodil Catharina
Biørn, Philanthropist and Missionary”
14.00 – Unveiling of Bodil Biørn statue, in front of the town hall
16.30 – Showing of the movie « Ararat ».
o Sunday, May 30th
11.00 – Requiem service in memory of Bodil Biørn and the victims of the
“It is a moral duty for Armenians to pay homage to the many honorable,
just people, often women, often Scandinavians, who provided relief
to the victims of the barbarity committed by the Young Turks. With
this commemoration, Bodil Biørn finally emerges from anonymity and
takes her place beside Maria Jacobsen, Karen Jeppe, Alma Johansson or
Amalia Lange, her sisters in compassion,” declared Laurent Leylekian,
executive director of the European Armenian Federation.
“In these times of questioning about Europe’s borders, we are here to
testify that Europe is foremost a matter of values and identity. In
this regard, Norway, which is not a member of the Union is undeniably
part of our European family. This is not the case of Turkey, however,
which has a long and enduring record of fascism,” concluded Leylekian.