Documenting her family’s escape from the ethnic killings of Armenians in Baku, Azerbaijan, Liyah takes us into her childhood perspective of war and violence during her most formative years. Based around journal entries written by her at a young age, she describes learning English in America and her personal experience of how becoming a refugee shaped her.Liyah takes the reader into her most private and personal space along with her struggle with identity, assimilation and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her loss of innocence, longing for a childhood, and survivor’s guilt is conveyed through her emotional reflection about life after genocide. We meet a child who finds safety in detachment from everything around her and finds peace in the stillness and liminal space of her pending identity as an adolescent.The memoir gives readers a glimpse of life in America and what it means to be a newcomer. On the other side of the American Dream, we learn about the mental health struggles of those arriving from war and violent conflicts and how they are expected to assimilate with little or no support. This memoir captures life’s inability to break the human spirit when a family is imbued with unwavering faith, unconditional gratitude and sheer determination.
Liyah Babayan – 30 years ago my family and I were hunted. Hunted like animals. The image from the 12th floor of my home in Baku, Azerbajian has haunted me all my child and adult life. I watched from our balcony, as tens of thousands of Azerbaijani men gather in the boulevard, chanting to cleanse the city of Armenians. Absolute fear, my mother grabbing me away from the balcony, turning off the lights. Ethnic killings of Armenians began on February 27, 1988, in the city of Sumgait, just 18 miles away from the capital where we lived. After the rally, the men were given lists, addresses of Armenian neighborhoods, homes and places of employment. Immediately my family went into hiding. I document our complete refugee experience in my book “Liminal, a refugee memoir” https://www.amazon.com/Liminal-refugee-memoir-…/…/0615649653
From January 12, 1990, a seven-day pogrom broke out against the Armenians civilian population in Baku. No one was spared, complete anarchy. Thousands of Armenians were brutally tortured, sodomized, burned alive… pregnant women and babies, toddler girls, women and even grandmothers were gang raped as our brothers, fathers, husbands were forced to watch. Women were forced to dance in the streets naked, then drenched in gasoline and set on fire alive. Babies smashed against sidewalks. (Forgive me for sharing the details… we live with these memories) My loved ones, stabbed, beaten, tortured, raped, thrown off building alive and their bodies mutilated. Over 300,000 Armenians purged overnight out of their homes, grabbing what they can carry fleeing for safety. This is how my family became refugees, this is what we miraculously survived.
This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the ethnic killings of Armenians in Baku. Today I remember those lives lost in Baku, pledge and dedicate my author voice to continue to raise awareness for justice, in their honor. “We are victors, not victims of our past.” (quote from Liminal, a refugee memoir)
I am grateful for every opportunity in 2019 to share my book with international readers. ❤ Blessed to be invited to present at events in 2020 and work with multiple organizations, churches, foundations throughout the United States to address PTSD in refugees and children of war. If your family escaped these pogroms, I would be honored to include your story in my second book of Baku Pogrom survivor chronicles.