Armenia: Photo exhibition presents stories of missing people and disrupted lives
Giving a glimpse into the lives of the families of those missing in connection with the escalation of 2020 in Armavir town, the Yerevan delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) jointly organized an exhibition entitled "Silent Presence: The Stories of Waiting and Yearning". Inaugurated on 30 August to commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared, the week-long exhibition was organized in cooperation with the Armenian Red Cross at the Art School of Armavir Municipality in Armenia.
Shot by renowned photographer Areg Balayan, the series of 19 photographs and short narratives captured items and places of significance for the families of the missing and gave an insight into their most intimate emotions as they daily bear the weight of anticipation. The photos not only depicted the pain, the silent tears and solitary moments but also the resilience and hope of the families.
The exhibition was also a reminder that the consequences of conflict extend far beyond the battlefield. The ripple effects of the conflict are felt in the homes, hearts and minds of those who keep searching for their missing loved ones. Thierry Ribaux, head of the ICRC's delegation in Yerevan, said in his welcome address,
Every year this day reminds all of us of the pain of loss and absence. It reminds us that suffering persists long after guns have fallen silent. But for a family who lives in anguish and uncertainty, every day is the day of the disappeared.
The idea of this exhibition came from the families living in Armavir town. For many of them, the past three years, since they were notified of the disappearance of their loved ones, have been marked by anguish. "We trust that this event will give you an insight into our suffering, the cost of our constant uncertainty and our resilience in the face of emptiness and despair," said Bibi Marian, wife of a missing person.
"Each child and adult here is looking forward to the day when their cruel wait will ultimately end and hope will brighten their lives," said Meri Sukiasyan, daughter of a missing person.
The exhibition also served as an appeal for empathy and proactive engagement to create a world where no family experiences the same hurtful uncertainty.
"The exhibition made it clear to me that waiting is a shared experience. I discovered that my family's situation, while distressing, is not unique. This strengthened the resolve to persevere in our waiting, holding on to hope for our children's return," said Lyudmila Kostanyan, mother of a missing person.