My Way Home

Armenian by Birth
Dro Bazikyan
Dro Bazikyan
| From Tehran, Iran | Moved in 1992

Initially, it was Dro’s father’s idea to move back to their homeland after Armenia’s independence.
“I am thankful to my parents for their decision, for the chance of living here. I do not regret anything, let alone feel sorry for leaving Iran. My past in Armenia, and my future, I owe it to my parents.
You can say that I was lucky to move at a young age. Older people might describe it more differently, but being a young boy in a Muslim country was neither a problem nor an obstacle for me. Our social circle consisted of Armenians, which is why we didn’t particularly feel discriminated. We didn’t really spend time with locals, almost never. Almost all of us knew deep down that living in a foreign country had always been a temporary issue. Tehran was where we lived, but Armenia was our home. Sooner or later, we would have the opportunity to return to our homeland, and we seized the opportunity after the independence. Our relatives had visited Armenia before, my aunt had moved there long before we did, so you can say that we had a connection with Armenia and we knew what went on there. But, hearing all the stories, the way I imagined we would be living has yet to be.”
Armenia was in a critical situation after the independence, the economy being at its lowest, but his family overcame all the obstacles along the way, and they stayed. Dro’s reminiscence of his early days were his childhood memories.
“In my earlier years, I faced discrimination. Not that it bothered me a lot, but it got me thinking about it, because I was where I’m supposed to be: in my homeland, why would I be treated like an outsider? After a while, I came to a conclusion, that it wasn’t the individual’s fault to treat us in such way. For instance, locals called the repatriates “Akhpar”, to distinguish us. And I don’t think they are to blame, because, it was how they were told to think for 70 years, and you can’t really change that in a course of 5 years. It had become a stereotype that was passed on to the new generations, that is why people my age had a different mentality than that of mine: they were brought up the same way the preceded generations were taught.”
Bazikyan considers himself integrated. The social life and the attitude towards foreigners have immensely changed in 20 years, he claims, but there are still people who like to marginalize them, but the effect is negligible, you can basically say that such issues almost never happen anymore.
“My brother and I graduated high school in Armenia, we graduated from university, we also served in the army; a deed that most Armenians would consider obligatory and compulsory, but for we did it willingly. But before doing so, we were citizens of Iran, as it was written in our paperwork, and for some complicated reasons, to be honest, for political reasons they didn’t supply us with Armenian citizenship. After that phase was over, when they announced their preparations to apply for citizenship, we faced another issue: we weren’t allowed to have dual citizenship, thus, we had to renounce our Iranian citizenship. My siblings and I didn’t flinch for a second and we took our Armenian passports. After we graduated from the university, we volunteered to serve in the army.
“I now work in the field of tourism, and have formed a family, and I can link my future and my children’s future only with Armenia. Since I moved here, I have never considered leaving my homeland. We can say that the way we were taught had an effect on that too, because my wife and children cannot imagine living anywhere else. If we considered Armenia as a transit point, we would have never stayed here in the first place. We would have left the country the minute we had arrived. But our aim was, is, to stay. The way I see it, the only reason why I would ever leave my homeland is if loss of statehood ever occurs, because the restoration of the statehood itself was one of the main reasons that pushed us to leave Iran. We are strong on our ground. If our country loses its statehood, it doesn’t matter whether we live there or anywhere else. It is only important when you realize that the ground you stand on is yours, because then, no one can ever have the authority to tell you to leave. Some people might flee the country due to its state of belligerency, but my family and I consider it our duty to be a part of our homeland, to stay here. This isn’t an announcement, it is a fact. Life has shown it to be this way. Every family should teach their offspring that this ground belongs to us, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for it. But, alas, patriotism is absent in the new generation, if anything, it is slightly there. And another thing that saddens me, is when people are divided into political parties. I think each Armenian should have a national mentality.”
Conducted by Boris Yatsenko
Edited by David Taschjan

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