On one of Buenos Aires’s main historical streets, the Avenue de Mayo, stands the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI). It is run by Acting Director Pedro Mouratian, whose white-walled office is on the fifth floor, adorned with photographs and the solemn presence of the Argentinian flag.
Mouratian was born in Valentín Alsina, a province of Buenos Aires. His four grandparents survived the 1915 Genocide and arrived in Argentina seeking peace and prosperity. From a young age he has been involved in the struggle for recognition, which continues to this day. According to Mouratian, the history of the Genocide catalyzed his interest in human rights. “One becomes aware of what humans are capable of doing, and having witnessed it first hand as victims, as my grandparents did, is even more striking,” he says.
Mouratian’s paternal grandfather Bedrós was from Bitlis (present-day Turkey) and was serving in the military when the atrocities began. Bedrós participated in events known as the “Battle of Bitlis” and formed part of the battalions of Armenian voluntary self-defense units under the command of General Andranik.
Some years later he was able to flee to Greece, where he met his wife, María Elmaian. She was born in Bafra (now in northern Turkey), where her parents had tobacco plantations. María was also a victim of the Genocide and survived thanks to staying in an orphanage. For seven years, the young couple lived in the region of Pireo near the port of Athens, where they had their first three children, two of whom died of harsh living conditions. “They immigrated to Argentina from Greece, not knowing much about where they were coming to, and settled in the area of Valentín Alsina,” Mouratian explains.
“Bedrós did not talk about these events, he was emotionally broken,” Mouratian recalls. “It was not uncommon to find him crying without an apparent reason. He had many nightmares, barely slept and was more serious than most people. He was unable to break free from the Genocide.”
Having been uprooted from his motherland, Bedrós arrived in South America and at last found a new home: “My grandfather found the peace and quiet he did not have in occupied Armenia,” Mouratian believes. “There were images of Sose Mayrig and Guevorg Chavush hanging on the walls of his room.”