SOAR - Baghdad Chapter

Baghdad joined the SOAR family in June 2015. The general roots of the contemporary Armenian community in Iraq can be traced to Shah Abbas’s forced relocation of the Armenians to Iran in 1604, some of whom subsequently ultimately settled in Iraq. An additional 25,000 Armenians arrived in Iraq during the early 20th century as they fled persecution of the Genocide. They established schools, athletic and cultural clubs, and political and religious institutions in urban centers across the breadth of Iraq.

During the 1980s, the Armenian community flourished as a result of President Saddam Hussein’s modernization efforts, rebuilding cultural institutions and consecrating an imposing cathedral in Baghdad. With the invasion of Iraq, however, the situation for Armenians worsened. Armenians were subject to killings and kidnappings for ransom. Many Armenians immigrated to other Middle Eastern countries (most notably Syria and Lebanon), Europe, the US, Canada, and Australia. Armenian churches have also been target of bombings by paramilitary groups.

Armenians in Iraq are mostly members of the Armenian Apostolic Church. St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church (at Younis al Sabaawi Square, Baghdad) is the main church for the Armenians of Iraq. There is also Saint Vartan Armenian Apostolic Church in Dohuk. The Armenian Catholic Archbishopric Church maintains a presence in Baghdad, as does the Armenian Evangelical Church of Baghdad. Today there are approximately 10,000 Armenians living in Iraq, with communities in Baghdad, Mosul, Basrah, Kirkuk, and Dohuk.

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Board of Directors:

Rostom Haroutune Baghdasarian

Rostom earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Mosul, College of Engineering. He has also earned multiple certifications in a wide variety of programs and fields. Over the years Rostom has worked as a Technical Supervisor, Site Engineer, Project Manager, QC and Submittal Engineer, Chief Estimator, Senior Project Engineer, and other managerial positions. He is currently the Senior Consulting Engineer and Structural Concrete Works Supervising Team Leader at CIHAN City Project in Erbil-Iraq. Rostom speaks English, Arabic, Armenian (mother tongue), Kurdish, and Turkish.

Fr. Avedig

Fr. Avedig earned his B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Baghdad, continuing on to attend the Priestly Institute in Armenia. He has been a teacher of both Christian Education and Chemistry at Ishtar Secondary School. Fr. Avedig is currently the Shepherd of the Armenian Church in Kirkuk and Suleymaniyah in Iraq. He speaks Arabic, Armenian, English, and Assyrian.

Ardemis Awhanis

Ardemis earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Computers from Baghdad University. She went on to earn her Master's Degree in Business Management from Willamette University, Atkinson Graduate School of Management. She has worked for United Nations-World Food Program, organizing and controlling daily operations, and as a Program Manager for USAID/Tijara for Provincial Economic Growth. She is currently working as a Senior Internal Auditor for Al-Thiqa Organization for Small Business Loans. Ardemis has held many leadership positions, leading operations and conducting trainings as well as serving on the boards.

Tania Safar

Tania attended University of Salahadden for English Art and the University of Babel for Philosophy. She has also taken many other specialized courses earning certifications. Tania has worked as an Office Coordinator and an Office Administrator. She is currently a Team-Leader for USAID-Forsa in Erbil, Iraq. Tania speaks Kurdish, Arabic, English , Assyrian and Armenian.