Azerbaijani Counter-Protesters Celebrate Ongoing Aggression Against Armenia
WASHINGTON—Greater Washington area Armenian Americans braved the cold and rain earlier today to mourn the victims of Azerbaijani aggression and stand in solidarity with the people of the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, in their effort to secure a fair and lasting peace.
The silent protest, organized by the Greater Washington, DC Armenian Youth Federation “Ani” Chapter and the St. Mary’s Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYO), coincided with the 24th anniversary of the Azerbaijani pogroms against the Armenian population of Sumgait, which set the stage for attacks in Baku in 1990, outright Azerbaijani aggression, and a cycle of anti-Armenian violence that continues to this day. The demonstrators also called special attention to Azerbaijan’s destruction of the 1,300 year old Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, Nakhichevan, demolishing thousands of intricately carved cross-stones (Khatchkars).
“We gathered at the Azerbaijani Embassy to remember those who perished in Sumgait and Baku, but to also condemn the Aliyev regime’s ongoing threats and attacks against Artsakh and Armenia,” said AYF Ani Chapter Chairwoman Tevin Polatian. “Just this week, another Armenian soldier was killed by a Azerbaijani sniper – an all too common occurrence resulting from an international community that turns a blind eye to Aliyev’s military build-up and attacks. We will continue to stand strong with the Republic of Karabakh, as they continue to defend their right to self-determination – a fundamental value the that U.S. was founded upon.”
Following the vigil, Soorp Khatch Armenian Church pastor, Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian and St. Mary’s Armenian Church Pastor, Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan led activists in a prayer in honor of the Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku victims. Participants lit candles and brought pictures of those who perished in the massacres – making a memorial in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy.
In what has now become an expected practice at annual Armenian Genocide and Sumgait/Baku pogroms commemorative protests, flag-wearing Azerbaijani and Turkish protesters jovially celebrated the atrocities, dishonoring the memory of those who perished. This year’s counter protesters included a group of teenagers from a neighborhood home, who apparently participated as part of an after-school “drinking game.”
To view photos, visit the AYF Ani Chapter Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/AYFDC