Youth Rally Kicks Off Karabakh Celebration

GLENDALE–A month-long community-wide celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Karabakh liberation struggle kicked off Sunday with a youth rally–as more than 400 youth and community members gathered at the Homenetmen Ararat chapter center to mark this momentous occasion.

Taking part in the festivities were California State Assemblyman Scott Wildman–Karabakh Army officer and freedom fighter Gagik Ghevondian and representatives of area organizations.

The gathering was organized through the collective and united efforts of the Armenian Students Association–the Petak group–the Armenian Society of Los Angeles–the youth group of the Sis Association–the Armenian Youth Federation and the Homenetmen Armenian Athlectic and Scouting Organization.

On behalf of the organizing committee–Mistress of Ceremonies Madeline Minassian welcomed the gathered and invited keynote speaker Raffi Hamparian–currently an aide to Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ)–to the podium.

In his straightforward remarks–Hamparian stressed that all Armenia’s shared the same history–same heritage and the same culture–thus the entire Armenian nation should be united in fighting for its rights as a people and must together continue the struggle for a free–independent and united Armenia.

Hamparian also emphasized the important role of the Diaspora and the force it represents by providing much-needed assistance to Armenia and Karabakh.

He said the Diaspora must take part in the national liberation struggle for Karabakh and the just resolution of the Karabakh question.

"Karabakh is the doorway to Armenia–and its freedom belongs to each and every Armenian," remarked Hamparian.

He also commended the recent US measures to ensure direct humanitarian aid to Karabakh.

In his remarks–Assemblyman Wildman offered congratulatory remarks on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Karabakh movement–and pledged his continuous support for the rights and freedoms of the people of Karabakh and the liberation struggle.

Also addressing the crowd was Karabakh Army officer Ghevondian–whose brother Bedo–has become one of the fallen heroes of the Karabakh self-defense movement.

Ghevondian outlined that obstacles between Armenia and Karabakh no longer existed–adding that Karabakh proved that it was part of the Armenian Cause and a stepping stone for a free and united Armenia.

Ghevondian explained that war was forced on the people of Karabakh–stressing that with the pogroms in Baku and Sumgait the people of Karabakh had no other choice but to bear arms and fight for their right to survival and self-determination.

The Karabakh officer greatly commended the efforts of the Diaspora in its relentless support for Armenia and Karabakh and applauded the youth–especially the Diaspora youth–for their support and solidarity with the Karabakh movement.

Following his remarks–Ghevondian fielded questions from the audience.

This–however–was not the only opportunity the attendees had to communicate with the people of Karabakh. Chatrooms were set up for direct internet communications with Stepanakert and at the conclusion of the program a live phone conversation took place with Karabakh freedom fighter Davit Vartanian of the village of Ashan–who reported on the recent developmen’s in Karabakh and responded to audience questions.

A video greeting from the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s Minister of Culture–Sports and Youth Affairs Armen Sargsyan was presented. Intermittently–throughout the program–slides of Karabakh sights and historic locations were also presented.

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