Michael Penn photography












The Armenia Tragedy

While working for The Fresno Bee in California, a reporter and I made a fast one-week trip to Armenia in 1993 with a local Congressman. Because Fresno County has one of the highest Armenian populations outside of Armenia, the Congressman wanted to study the conditions and problems in Armenia.

Under the old Soviet central planning system, Armenia had developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles and other manufactured goods to sister republics in exchange for raw materials and energy. A conflict with Azerbaijan, its eastern neighbor, over the ethnic Armenian-dominated region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the breakup of the USSR contributed to a severe economic decline in the country in the early 1990's.

Couple at Bus Stop

An older couple waits at a bus stop in Yeravan, Armenia, to be taken back to their home in the war-torn Nagorno-Karabakh exclave.

Families cry, smile and wave good bye as they begin a bus trip back to their homes in the Nagorno-Karabakh exclave from Yerevan.

Bus Trip

Man Smoking

A man smokes as he describes the declining living conditions for his family in Armenia.

An Armenian family grieves the loss of their soldier son at a new cemetery on the outskirts of Yerevan.


Hunting for firewood

An older man looks for sticks to make tea in one Yerevan's city parks. An oasis in a desert land, residents have had to cut trees to heat their homes and cook their meals.