On the Celebration of Artsakh’s and Armenia’s Independence Days
BY REV. DR. VAHAN H. TOOTIKIAN
The month of September is the celebration of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia. Artsakh declared its independence on September 2, 1991, and Armenia on September 21, 1991.
The 32nd anniversary of our two Republics may not be a long period in the history of our nation, but it is a testimony of our people’s determination to march onward. Considering the challenges that our two Republics have faced since their inception, the fact that they survived all the odds against them is in itself a sufficient cause for celebration and thanksgiving.
After the devastating earthquake in 1988, Armenia was hardly prepared for the moment of destiny when it declared its independence. Looking back over those past years, one cannot but notice that our compatriots in Artsakh and Armenia have demonstrated a quality over which the harsh circumstances of life have no power. They have been threatened by Turkish-Azeri attacks and economic blockade, but have risen to meet this grave crisis. They have lived through challenging days, often in the face of harsh winters and famine. They have experienced disappointments, but they have not surrendered their spirit.
The 44-day war in 2020, however, has affected our nation. The past three years have been an extraordinary painful and precarious time. Through deliberate harassment, Azerbaijan aims to derail its negotiations with Armenia, disregards implementing the November 9, 2020 tripartite agreements and, through political pressure and violence, tries to impose its own terms. Time after time, it has violated the sovereignty and security of Armenia and Artsakh. And, since December 6, 2022, it has blockaded 120,000 Artsakh Armenians with the closure of the Berdzor Corridor (Lachin Corridor). Depriving the people of Artsakh of food supplies, medicine, other basic necessities, and the right to move freely are tantamount to a genocidal act against the Armenian population living on a territory that has been their homeland for more than a millennia.
Sooner or later—we hope sooner—the international community will take practical steps to put an end to the blockade and recognize the Artsakh Armenians’ right to self-determination.
Freedom is everyone’s desire. It has always been and will always be one of the deepest longings of the human heart. God placed it there and no one has the right to take it away.
For the past 32 years, the people of Artsakh have been free. They want to remain free. They want to be themselves─to live their own lives, to think their own thoughts, to seek their own answers, and to decide their own destiny. They don’t want Azerbaijan to decide their destiny.
Their strong will and determination is admirable. We salute the heroic people of Artsakh! Their courage, inner strength, and resilience have been an inspiration to us.
On the anniversary of Artsakh and Armenia declaring independence, we, as Diasporan Armenians, congratulate our twin Republics, and pledge our support for their sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security. We continue to stand in solidarity with them.