Organization Leads Protest in Front of Azeri Embassy in Washington–DC
WATERTOWN–Over 150 Armenian-Americans gathered in front of the Azerbaijan Embassy in Washington–DC on September 1 to call attention to ongoing threats by Azerbaijani government officials to use military force to deny self-determination to the people of Karabagh. The protest was organized by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Eastern United States.
For over an hour–demonstrators marched holding placards that read "Self-Determination=Human Rights,"No More Blood for Oil," and "Aliyev–Stop Threatening War," reminding the world that Azerbaijan’s government killed thousands of Armenia’s in Sumgait and Baku–ethnically cleansing thousands more throughout Azerbaijan.
Protesters from various parts of the US spoke out against Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s threat to resume war against Karabagh.
In his keynote address–AYF New Jersey chapter alumnus Ken Sarajian said–"I come today with three messages for you. I speak first to the United States and friends of peace–second to the AYF to say that I am proud of you. Third–to the Azerbaijanis sitting there in that building; why do I stand here with a microphone and speak? So that maybe they will listen. Why? Because when we speak in peace talks–they do not listen. I speak now so that all can here. Democracy speaks of self determination–not of we will not yield land.
"Some will ask–why don’t we negotiate? We are willing to talk peacefully with anyone–but we are not willing to give up rights."
Other speakers at the protest included AYF Eastern Region chairman Antranig Kzirian and Armenian National Committee (ANC) Eastern Region executive director Doug Geogerian–who both spoke about Karabagh’s right to self-determination and how Armenia’s should not stand for Azerbaijan’s militantly aggressive threats.
Providence AYF member Garine Palandjian spoke about her experiences this summer in Karabagh–while Sossi Essajanian from the Greater Boston chapter read accounts from survivors and victims of the 1988 Sumgait and 1990 Baku massacres by Azeris.
"I have come here to help get the word out about the Karabagh conflict–educate non-Armenia’s about the ongoing political tensions Armenia has suffered not only with Azerbaijan–but in the 1915 Armenian genocide," said Detroit AYF member Teny Mishigian.
The event took place a day prior to the start 72nd annual AYF Eastern Regional Olympics in Washington–D.C.–where over 2,000 people arrived to participate in the games–support their AYF chapters–and enjoy the weekend’s festivities.