The Assyrian Genocide Remains an Open Wound and Many People are Still Looking for Their Missing Relatives
By Lily Malek
The following letter is one of those letters that we receive from all corners of the world:
My name is Lily Malek, daughter of Axenia Bejan. I am looking for my lost aunt, Lisa Bejan, and her kids. She was kidnapped by the Ottoman during World War 1 at the age of 14. She was born in Khosrava, a village in the region of Salamas, to parents Isaac Hawil Bejan and Anna Tatoos. My grandmother, Anna, used to tell me, “every time I look at you it reminds me of Lisa.”
Lisa was a new bride with a very pretty face and everyone was so protective of her. When the word came that the Ottomans were coming, the Bishop of the Catholic church in Urmi ordered all of the young girls and brides to be taken to the church so that they could hide in the basement. Unfortunately, someone had informed the Ottomans who now knew where to look. Lisa and her mother-in-law were of the women who were taken to the basement to hide. In order to make Lisa less attractive, they covered her face with black coal. The Ottoman officer who ended up taking Lisa said, “you covered your face thinking you can hide your beauty?” Lisa’s mother-in-law ran after her and begged the officer not to take her but she was attacked by his sword and was injured. Many of the girls were taken and the rest were all killed. When people from the village came to look for their beloved ones, there remained a blood bath in the basement.
My family has searched everywhere for Lisa but, unfortunately, we have had no luck. I know she is no longer living but if anyone has any information on her and/or her family, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.