WASHINGTON—On Feb. 26, Greater Washington, D.C. area Armenian Americans remembered victims of Azerbaijani violence during an annual protest in support of self-determination for the people of Nagorno-Karabagh and against Azerbaijani aggression.
The demonstration, organized by the Greater Washington Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) “Ani” Chapter and the St. Mary’s Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYO), coincided with the 22nd anniversary of the Azerbaijani pogroms against the Armenian population of Sumgait, which set the stage for similar attacks in Baku in 1990 and a cycle of violence that continues to this day. Similar protests will be taking place during the next few days in countries around the world.
“It was a very important event to remember and honor the victims that died, whose only crime was being Armenian,” said ACYO chairwoman Megan Karanfil. “We cannot allow the Azerbaijani government to forget these crimes against innocent people. We hope our efforts will bring to light past events so that no other race or religion will have to endure such atrocities in the future.”
Azerbaijani threats against neighboring Armenia and Karabagh have stepped up in recent weeks, with the Azeri Foreign Minister Safar Abiyev warning of a “great war.” Slamming the ongoing Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) peacetalks as ineffective, Abiyev told French Ambassador to Baku Gabriel Keller, “Now it’s the military’s turn and the threat is growing every day.”
“Abiyev’s call for renewed violence, this week, is the shining example why we must all stand in support of Nagorno-Karabagh’s independence,” said AYF Ani Chapter chairman Hagop Simonian. “Since 1991, the Nagorno Karabagh Republic has worked tireless to build a democratic and peaceful society, in the shadow of Azerbaijan’s threats. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with the people Artsakh to preserve and build on that legacy.”
At the end of the protest, Soorp Khatch Armenian Church pastor, Father Sarkis Aktavoukian, and St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church pastor, Father Hovsep Karapetyan, led participants in prayer in memory of the Armenian victims of Azerbaijani atrocities.