LOS ANGELES, YEREVAN—On this day, commemorating the one year anniversary of the April “Four-day war” infiltrated by Azerbaijan against the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Republic, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Shant Student Association (SSA), based in Los Angeles, joins hands with their compatriots in the Nigol Aghpalian Student Association in Yerevan and fellow Armenians across the globe to condemn Azerbaijani aggression and urge a renewed international effort in working towards a peaceful settlement. Currently, Azerbaijan has maintained a volatile situation at the Line of Contact with frequent ceasefire violations, which risks escalation and potential to engulf the entire region in a bloody war.
The dispute in the region has long settled as the residents of the regions voted in a referendum for an independent state in the days of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late 1980’s. However, Azerbaijan has refused to come to terms with reality and a failure of international pressure and a drawn-out peace mediation process which has not held Aliyev responsible for his actions has only emboldened him to levels that are unacceptable to today’s standards.
Further, the controversial president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has sharply deteriorated the media environment since 2014 as the government has pursued a harsh campaign to silence criticism and dissent. Media organizations, bloggers and prominent journalists and freedom of expression advocates have been shut down and silenced due to spurious charges and investigations, creating an atmosphere that would allow unidirectional advocacy and violation of human rights within the country.
The Shant Student Association calls on international organizations, specifically the chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group of the United States, Russia and France to actively strive to bring a just end to the conflict. It is the duty of the international community to cease its political games and realize that the lives of innocent men and women, children and elderly are at stake.
“Artsakh has been and always will be Armenian, said President of the SSA Laleh Pakradouni. “We have proved time and time again, that we, as the Armenian nation, will not back down on our claim on Artsakh. Be it in the diaspora, in Armenia or Artsakh, we as the Armenian youth acknowledge our duty to our nation; to be Armenian, to fight for our cause, to create a just state, to sacrifice our lives if need be, for the creation of a free, independent and united Armenia, with our Artsakh, Javakhk, Nakhichevan and Western Armenia.”
Pakradouni was joined by Nigol Aghpalian Student Association President Shogher Baghdasarian in reaffirming their trust in the international peace process, stating that “The aggressiveness of Azerbaijan disrupts peace in Artsakh and causes the death of soldiers who are protecting their land. We are sure that international organizations can prevent aggressions against Artsakh. As members of AYF and the youth generation of ARF, we state that the rights to self-determination of Armenians of Artsakh have already been decided by the people of Artsakh.”
As we remember the more than 100 innocent lives that were taken a year ago and our brave soldiers who successfully stood against an outright military invasion, we reiterate the fact that the Artsakh conflict is not about territories, it about the rights of indigenous people. It is only through the principle of equal rights and self-determination that this conflict may reach a peaceful resolution.