WASHINGTON—Greater Washington area Armenian-Americans honored the memory of the victims of Azerbaijani aggression, during a grassroots protest in support of the right to self-determination of the people of Karabakh held on February 25.
The demonstration, organized by the Greater Washington Armenian Youth Federation “Ani” Chapter and the St. Mary’s Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYO), coincided with the 23rd anniversary of the Azerbaijani pogroms against the Armenian population of Sumgait, which set the stage for attacks in Baku in 1990 and a cycle of anti-Armenian violence that continues to this day. The demonstrators also called special attention to Azerbaijan’s destruction of the 1300 year old Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, Nakhichevan, demolishing thousands of intricately carved cross-stones (Khatchkars). A similar protest was organized in Ottawa, Canada earlier this week with more are scheduled in capitols around the world during upcoming days.
“We have joined together today to call attention to the Sumgait and Baku massacres in the hopes of preventing future such atrocities,” said ACYO member Samvel Hayrapetyan. “Our message is clear – oil revenue does not trump Karabakh’s right to self-determination. Armenians worldwide are united in the defense of the fundamental rights of the people of Artsakh.”
Azerbaijani violence against neighboring Nagorno Karabakh reached an all-time high last year since the 1994 cease fire, with over 30 killed along the line of contact. The Aliyev regime’s threats of war continue, as the country’s defense budget soars to over $3 billion a year.
“Despite international mediation efforts, President Aliyev continues his calls for a military solution to the Karabakh conflict, threatening prospects for peace in the region,” said AYF Ani Chapter Chairman Arpa Vartanian. “Since 1991, the Nagorno Karabagh Republic has worked tirelessly to build a democratic and peaceful society, in the shadow of Azerbaijan’s aggression. The Sumgait and Baku massacres remind us all that a return to Azerbaijan’s dictatorial regime is simply impossible.”
Photos from the protest can be viewed on the AYF Eastern Region and ANCA and AYF Facebook pages.