BY CATHERINE YESAYAN
On Sunday afternoon, November 15, over 100 people gathered on Artsakh street in Glendale for two reasons. First, to hear the powerful statements on the Artsakh war from a group of young Armenian artists and activists. The second, to unveil an augmented reality banner honoring the unity and resolve of the Armenian people for Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh.
The project of creating an “augmented reality” banner at Artsakh street was a collaboration between Kamee Abrahamian, Nancy Baker Cahill, Mashinka Firunts Hakopian, and Nelli Sargsyan. The interactive “augmented reality” experience, which was new to me, can be geolocated at the intersection of Artsakh street and East Broadway Avenue, and is viewable via a smartphone App called “4th Wall” conceived by Baker Cahill (www.4thwallapp.org).
The ill-fated Artsakh war which was waged, unprovoked, on the Armenian people by Azerbaijani forces, ended 44 days after it began, with the “cease-fire” treaty signed on November 10th. The decision of November 10, to surrender the war, was not what any of us were expecting. Armenians both in the motherland as well as in Diaspora were full of hope that we would win, just as we did in 1994. However this war was in 21st century. It was a war against an enemy that was stronger, better-funded and equipped with modern weapons and artillery; many of which were provided by Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey and bought from Israel.
The speakers on that afternoon, included Ara Oshagan (artist and curator at ReflectSpace), Lousine Shamamian (Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society), Hayk Makhmuryan and Niko Shahbazian (Glendale Tenants’ Union), Sophia Armen (a writer and organizer), Carene Rose Mekertichyan (actress and activist) and Ardy Kassakhian (Glendale City Council). All the speakers echoed a passionate for our motherland and an urgent call for unity and inclusivity for all Armenians. All the speeches referenced to our past history and emphasized that our strength is in our togetherness.
Hearing the stream of sentiments for our motherland, it reminded me of our iconic writer Gevork Emin who, in his imaginative poem “The Traveller to Eternity”, describes a hypothetical traveller who comes from ancient times and epitomizes the Armenian people.
On his way, crossing countless lands, the traveller meets many people who ask him where he’s coming from. His answers portrays the history of the Armenian people. In one response the traveller answers, “I’m coming from so many lands…from Artashat to Tigranakert. From Vagharshabat to Dvin and to Ani. For ages I have fought for my liberation from the Romans and the Persians, the Byzantines and the Arabs—the Seljuks and the Mongols, the Tatars and the Turks, all in the name of my homeland, which today is reduced to the size of my palm and only a handful of people have survived after all those wars.”
I share these lines because they so well personify our journey through the ages. Yet, in spite of the millennia of traumas, we have never lost everything.
The spirit of the young activists on November 15th on Artsakh Street gave me hope and assurance for the future. I heard “We will regroup,” “We will rebuild,” and despite our disappointments, Armenia and Artsakh will always be our homeland.
For us Armenians, the last few months starting from the explosion in Beirut on August 4, and then the war in Artsakh has been a rollercoaster of emotions. The event on November 15, had a cathartic implication.
For more information visit the project’s website.
Catherine Yesayan is a regular contributor to Asbarez, with her columns appearing under the “Community Links” heading. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.