WASHINGTON–DC–Armenian Americans in metropolitan New York and the Greater Washington DC area staged grassroots demonstrations Tuesday as part of a worldwide Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) campaign to call international attention to Azerbaijan’s crimes against the Armenian nation.
The protesters joined tens of thousands of compatriots protesting in Yerevan–Paris–London–Athens–and last week in Ottowa and Cologne to mark a pattern of anti-Armenian violence that began with the 1988 pogroms against Armenia’s in Sumgait–Azerbaijan and has continued through the desecration last December of the Armenian cemetery in Julfa–Nakhichevan (Azerbaijan).
In demonstrations in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York City and a march in Washington–DC from the Turkish Embassy to the Azeri Embassy–protesters called on the Azeri government to end their aggression and threats of renewed war against the Armenian people. Armenian protesters in Washington–DC were greeted by a small group of Azeri counter-protesters apparently organized by the lobbyists hired by Baku to burnish its image in the United States.
The New York demonstration was organized by the New York and New Jersey ARF Chapters. The march in Washington–DC was organized jointly by the local ARF and Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) chapters in cooperation with the Armenian Relief Society–Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Association–and Homenetmen Armenian Athletic and Scouting Association.
Washington AYF "Ani" Chapter chairman Serouj Aprahamian–during one of several interviews with the Voice of America Azerbaijan service–stated that "given Azerbaijan’s history of systematic aggression in Sumgait–Baku–and Maragha–their latest actions in Julfa–and the constant war rhetoric emanating from Baku–all security assurances for the people of Nagorno Karabagh appear all too hollow."
The ARF’s call to action against Azerbaijan’s pattern of aggression against the Armenian nation received tremendous response–with over 70,000 rallying in Armenia’s capital of Yerevan. In France–the ARF teamed up with the Armenian Democratic League–the Hunchakian Party–and the Coordinating Committee of French Armenian organizations–for their protest–which included remarks from a number of French Members of Parliament. Over 1000 people turned up to protest in front of the Azeri Embassy in Paris. Similar protests were held in London–Athens–and earlier in Cologne–Germany. In Canada–the ARF Armen Garo Student Association and ARF Canada Youth Association held a rally and march in Ottowa on February 24.
During the break up of the Soviet Union–official Baku encouraged anti-Armenian pogroms–resulting in the murder of several hundred Armenia’s in the cities of Baku–Sumgait–and Kirovabad as well as ethnically cleansing Azerbaijan of over 500,000 Armenia’s. The latest chapter in Azerbaijan’s campaign to eradicate traces of Armenian cultural heritage from the region came in December–2005–when Azeri soldiers destroyed the centuries old Julfa Armenia cemetery–home to more than 10,000 individually carved cross stones (khatchkars). The cemetery–was subjected to sustained attacks throughout the 20th Century and again–starting in 2002–when Azeri forces crushed hundreds of the crosses and shipped the rubble from the region by rail. The most recent attacks have been the worst yet.