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Genocide survivors honored in Flushing

Two survivors of the nearly 100-year-old Armenian genocide, who are nearly a century old themselves, were honored last Thursday at the New York Armenian Home in Flushing.

Perouz Kalousdian, 98, and Rose Jerjerian Puccio, 94, are Queens' only living survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, commemorated on Martyrs' Day, April 24, the 93rd anniversary of the day on which 250 Armenian intellectuals and leaders living in Ottoman Turkey were rounded up and eventually killed. They were the first of some 1.5 million Armenians to be killed in 1915 by the Turks in what would come to be known as the Armenian Genocide.

Neither woman spoke during the brief ceremony at the Flushing building on 45th Avenue, but City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) presented each with a certificate and posed for photos with them.

"This is the day we commemorate one of the most horrific periods, the 'forgotten' genocide," Liu said, referring to the fact that contemporary and subsequent Turkish governments have never acknowledged the events of 1915.

"Our community at large will never forget the Armenian Genocide," Liu pledged.

Arthur Flug, director of the Holocaust Resource Center at Queensborough Community College, also spoke briefly to the group assembled at the New York Armenian Home, where Kalousdian and Puccio were joined by their families and other residents.

"All of you here represent a very special group. All of you have to tell your children, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren" about the genocide, Flug said. "The people that did it, even almost 100 years later, still deny they did it and say it never happened."

The 53 residents of the New York Armenian Home, where the average age among the residents is 92, were mostly born in Turkey and Greece, said Aghvani "Aggie" Ellian, the center's executive director. The New York Armenian Home was founded in November 1948 in Rego Park by Sarah Sanossian and is to celebrate its 60th anniversary later this year.

The residents and staff sang the Lord's Prayer in Armenian after Liu and Flug spoke. Some remarked that "it's nice to be remembered" and said of the genocide, "it's unforgettable."

Flug told residents that like the Jews who survived the Holocaust during World War II "we hope you continue that tradition of never, ever forgetting."

Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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