BY CATHERINE YESAYAN
A Friday morning under the rain drizzle.
“Armenians united, will never be divided!” and “Not one inch!”. These were some of the chants I heard at the peaceful rally I attended on Friday, April 8. Protesters were telling the Azerbaijani authorities that no matter what, Armenians would not give up territories to the enemy that had attacked them.
About a week ago, Armenians woke to somber news: we learned that Azerbaijan had attacked the border villages of Artsakh and savagely killed Armenian civilians as well as soldiers. Fortunately, international powers intervened and within four days a ceasefire was announced.
To make our voices of protest heard, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) had organized the April 8 rally. They had arranged for shuttle busses across the Los Angeles area to transport protestors to the Azerbaijan Consulate at the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Granville Ave.
I took one of these busses, from St. Mary’s Church in Glendale to the Azeri Consulate. Every seat was taken.
On our bus, we were priviledged to have with us Nishan Tchagasbanian, a singer of patriotic songs. He had brought one of his CDs, which he asked the driver to play. He started a spontaneous chorus. During the one-hour drive, this music filled us with enthusiasm. We were all emotionally charged as we arrived at our destination around 12 noon.
April showers didn’t stop about 3,500 people from showing up in front of the Consulate that day to protest Azerbajian’s ferocious attacks on Artsakh, and to show the Armenian Diaspora’s solidarity with our homeland.
I had the chance to chat with several people. The crowd mostly consisted of youth. About 150 kids had come from the Rose and Alex Pilibos School. I met another group from Glendale’s Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta. The Reverend Father Muron Vardabed, from Holy Cross Cathedral, had accompanied 75 students from the Armenian Mesrobian School in Montebello.
At one point during the rally, the protestors went to the middle of Wilshire Blvd. and staged a spontaneous sit-in, blocking traffic for half an hour.
The rally ended at 3 p.m. By that time, the protestors had vacated the streets peacefully. On the way back, I found a seat on another bus going back to Glendale. This one didn’t have Nishan singing his patriotic songs.
I took time in the bus to gather my thoughts about the event. I was impressed by the young people’s ability to organize such a rally. I was amazed at how these young people had mastered the art of oration. Their eloquent speeches inspired me. A few spoke in Armenian, and a few in English. Their words and message clearly conveyed the need for the Diaspora to be united to prevent aggression against Armenian lands.
Their dedication to the Armenian cause brought to my mind the patriotic song “Harach, nahadag tseghi anmahner.” Yes, the new generation is the guardian of our race!