AYF Protests Azeri Event on Khojaly

LOS ANGELES–More than 100 members of the Armenian Youth Federation were joined by other youth from the community Monday to protest an event at the Azerbaijani Consulate General in Los Angeles claiming the events in Khojaly 17 years ago were massacres perpetrated by Armenia’s.

One of the fiercest battles of the Nagorno-Karabakh war took place from February 24 to 26, 1994, following which the Karabakh Army liberated Khojaly–an Azeri stronghold from where the Azeri army would rain rockets and fire on the civilian population in Karabakh.

Neutralizing the Azeri stronghold was a key turning point in the Karabakh conflict, which culminated in the liberation of Shoushi in May of the same year.

As a direct response to the hundreds of thousands of Armenian demonstrators urging the Kremlin to allow Karabakh to be part of Armenia in 1988, Azeri OMON (special forces) units began a systematic pogrom of Armenia’s in Sumgait in the same year. That was followed by a series of pogroms in Kirovabad, Baku and later in the Shahumian district of Karabakh.

“We stand with the people of Artsakh to protect their right to independence and we will not allow the Azeri government to put on events trying to distort history for political gain,” said Vache Thomassian, the chairperson of the AYF Western Region. “We will remember the murder of Armenia’s in Sumgait and Baku and we will always remember that Artsakhk is Armenia.”

The protesters called on the Azeri government to bare responsibility for the pogroms of Sumgait, Baku and other regions, highlighting the continued bellicose rhetoric emanating from Azeri leaders toward Armenia’s and Karabakh.

A couple of AYF members were denied access to the event by organizers, at which time, AYF leaders, through a State Department official present at event, indicated their interest in meeting with the Azeri Consul General to “hear what we had to say.”

"The demonstration was a sign that we can come together in a matter of three hours and fight against injustice. It should also serve as a message to the Azeri government, who were probably watching from their office windows, that they can’t expect to twist the facts, yet remain unnoticed," said Mariam Tsaturyan UCLA ASA Executive member.

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