Born in Keghi in 1888.
Shahen had, for two years, attended the local Protestant school
upon the insistence of his father, who was then in America for
Shahen remembers that "there wasn't any Armenian household that
did not have at least one member of the family working in America
in those days". To continue his education, he was later sent to 'Yeprad'
College, the American missionary school in Kharpet, its students
numbered 1300 at that time. After 9 year years at 'Yeprad'
College, he was expelled from the school for being a
"revolutionary Hunchakian" with less than a year left to his
graduation. Shahen thereafter, traveled extensively throughout
Turkish Armenia as a teacher and a party organizer and activist.
His duties had taken him to Arapgir, Malatia, Dikranagerd, Daron,
Sasoon, Palou, and back to his home Keghi.
He left Keghi in 1913 for America only to return to the Caucasus
from 1915-16 as a volunteer fighter (Gamavor).
In 1919 Setrak Shahen returned to Constantinople, Smyrna and
Cilicia as a party activist; he was arrested and exiled by the
French following the aborted declaration of the independence of
Cilicia. Shahen fought the Turks until he escaped the Kemalist
siege of Smyrna in 1922. Returned to America and assumed various
responsibilities as an active Hunchakian, including the editorship
of "Eridassard Hayastan", the party organ in New York in the
1940's. He also published two of his most revolutionary plays, "Sassoonk"
and "Giliglio Zakhoghanke" (Cilicia's Failure). Setrak Shahen's
other plays include "Talaati Angoome" (The Fall of Talaat), "Zeitoon",
"Paramaz yev Kessan Gakhaghannere" (Paramaz and the Twenty
Gallows), "Gargaroon Gamarner" (Arches of Triumph, about S. Mourad
Of Sepastia, a Hunchak fedayee), and "Mazak Pitcha" (about the
battle of Sartarabad). "His style of writing is simple, pleasant
and understandable to the common people" according to his long
time collegue Yeghia Sirvard, "Shahen is the most popular and
liked personality of our community" (New York).
In the 60's and 70's Shahen was undoubtedly the most respected and
well known Hunchak on the West Coast, "Talaati Angoome" has been
produced in Los Angeles many times. Setrak Shahen's writings have
been positive distractions to the post-Genocide Hunchak youth, his
plays have been sources of inspiration for the free spirited and
revolutionary minded Armenians, While the people couldn't, his
characters aspire to achieve the highest ideals of the Armenian
people. The plays "Zeitoon" and "Sassoonk" contain information
that are the result of his research based on the Hunchak party
literature of the time and eyewitness accounts. Shahen has
Immortalized Hunchak heroes and events of legendary magnitude (Paramaz,
Aghasi, Mourad and Kaay). His contribution to the movement is in
the dramatization of its revolutionary history, through a
masterful combination of facts, playwriting and story telling.
Setrak Shahen died in Los Angeles in 1975, short of his 92nd
birthday. He had said that: