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Personal reflections on conflict and displacement

9 June 2010 6 Comments

I was born in Vardenis in 1984 and four years later my entire family as well as all my relatives had to leave Armenia, fleeing to Azerbaijan due to the mass displacements. I was only four when I left Armenia, but in retrospect I don’t know whether that’s fortunate or not as I am unable to remember everything I left behind. But I do remember our house, our garden, the playground, my friends, my apple tree, and the rooster which I loved so much.

After arriving in Azerbaijan I used to dream about our house and walking in the ruins of our village. At some point, however, everything just faded away. Even so, my family have never lost their belief that one day we will go back home. We believe that two neighbors who have lived together for centuries will come together again even if evil has never left them alone and always whispers hatred.

In Azerbaijan, we kept ourselves apart from the local culture for many years and couldn’t adjust back to our ethnic roots. Being treated as a stranger made it even more difficult. Azerbaijanis from Armenia segregated themselves from the rest as a result and united among themselves. Discrimination towards us was everywhere. It was in the kindergarten I went to, in the primary school, and even in our social life.

Local Azerbaijanis made us think that we are different even though we have the same blood and the same ethnic roots. I grew up hearing that I was from Armenia meaning that I always identified myself as an Armenian-Azerbaijani, which, from our perspective, was always considered a level below in Azerbaijani society.

After a while I have found myself reading more about this conflict, analyzing it, and asking everyone for their perspective so that I could try to figure out the bigger picture. In 2009 I left for the US as an Edmund Muskie Fellow to continue my education in the field of Conflict Transformation. Meanwhile, I also began to participate in different activities related to this conflict including simulations and symposiums.

Meeting Armenians for the first time shook my feelings and emotions up and down. I made lots of friends, talked openly to them, and heard their perspective. Since then, every time I see an Armenian, be it in the street or any other social gathering, I feel some kind of invisible tie to them and to the land in which I was born, ignoring the fact that “they should be my enemies”. That is the power of “good” over “evil” which we have ignored for too long.

This war made me a Peacemaker although I am very new in this area. My struggle is more complicated, however, because on the one hand I have to help those who are in conflict, and on the other help myself.

Zamira Abbasova

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