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  About Us Lest We Forget Setrak Shahen

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Setrak ShahenSetrak Shahen
(1888 - 1975)

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 work.

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:

"Neither Sartarabad, nor modern Armenia would have come about without the revolutionary ideals of the Hunchak party that preceded them".

Setrak Shahen....a proud Hunchak....and a great Armenian.

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Copyrightę 2005 S.D.H.P. Australian Leadership