• Send page
  • Print page

Armenia: trees as living symbols of memory and hope

22-05-2012 Feature

Families recently gathered in Gyumri, northern Shirak, to plant trees as a reminder of relatives missing since the 1988-1994 Nagorny Karabakh conflict. The event also helped raise awareness of the problems that these families are facing.

Hasmik Pilosyan’s husband went missing in Lachin, in 1991. “He was a senior lieutenant,” she explains. “I’ve had no news of him since he disappeared. But I still hope that one day he’ll come back and look after the tree I’m planting today. In the meantime, I’ll come here regularly to take care of it."

This area, with its 11 fir trees, will soon become a park of remembrance where the families of missing persons can meet on occasions such as the National Day of Missing Persons on June 29 and the International Day of the Disappeared on August 31.

The tree-planting was organized by the Shirak regional branch of the Armenian Red Cross Society with support from the ICRC, which is also helping people discover what has happened to their missing relatives and deal with the legal, social and economic problems they face.

The ICRC supports the families of missing persons via micro-economic projects, such as the distribution of livestock and house renovations. The organization is also helping the authorities introduce legislation on missing persons that will give their families better legal protection. Working with local partners, the ICRC is providing psychosocial support to the families, helping them cope with the trauma of their loss.


Photos

Gyumri, Armenia. Vaghinak Mnoyan is the father of a missing person. He promises to take good care of all the trees planted as a reminder of people who went missing in the 1988-1994 Nagorny Karabakh conflict. 

Gyumri, Armenia. Vaghinak Mnoyan is the father of a missing person. He promises to take good care of all the trees planted as a reminder of people who went missing in the 1988-1994 Nagorny Karabakh conflict.
© ICRC

Gyumri, Armenia. Local TV station Tsayg films Armenian Red Cross personnel as they help people plant trees to remember relatives missing since the Nagorny Karabakh war. 

Gyumri, Armenia. Local TV station Tsayg films Armenian Red Cross personnel as they help people plant trees to remember relatives missing since the Nagorny Karabakh war.
© ICRC

Gyumri, Armenia. Susanna Grigoryan remembers her son, who went missing in 1998 during the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. Almost two decades after the conflict ended, she and many others are still in the dark as to what happened to their relatives. 

Gyumri, Armenia. Susanna Grigoryan remembers her son, who went missing in 1998 during the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. Almost two decades after the conflict ended, she and many others are still in the dark as to what happened to their relatives.
© ICRC

Gyumri, Armenia. Staff and volunteers from the Shirak regional branch of the Armenian Red Cross Society help families plant trees as reminders of relatives missing since the 1988-1994 Nagorny Karabakh conflict. 

Gyumri, Armenia. Staff and volunteers from the Shirak regional branch of the Armenian Red Cross Society help families plant trees as reminders of relatives missing since the 1988-1994 Nagorny Karabakh conflict.
© ICRC

Gyumri, Armenia. Mariam Hakobyan prays for her missing son after planting a tree to remember him by. The Armenian Red Cross Society worked with the ICRC to organize this tree-planting ceremony for people missing since the 1988-1994 Nagorny Karabakh war. 

Gyumri, Armenia. Mariam Hakobyan prays for her missing son after planting a tree to remember him by. The Armenian Red Cross Society worked with the ICRC to organize this tree-planting ceremony for people missing since the 1988-1994 Nagorny Karabakh war.
© ICRC

Gyumri, Armenia. Hasmik Pilosyan has had no news of her husband since he disappeared in 1991, during the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. She still hopes that one day he will come back and look after the tree she is planting. 

Gyumri, Armenia. Hasmik Pilosyan has had no news of her husband since he disappeared in 1991, during the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. She still hopes that one day he will come back and look after the tree she is planting.
© ICRC