East Coast Armenians Protest for Justice, Oppose Armenia-Turkey Protocols

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New York, NY – Over 800 people turned out for the Protest for Justice organized by the Armenian Youth Federation – YOARF Eastern Region USA on Saturday, September 19 in front of Armenia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

Displaying Armenian flags and signs protesting the announced protocols for diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia, the crowd chanted slogans in support of the independence of Artsakh , recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey and demanding reparations and restitution of land. Justice Not Protocols was the resounding message.

“We came in the name of Justice. The protocols ask Armenia and the Armenian Nation to give up on what is rightfully theirs; what was taken away from them during the Genocide. These protocols are not only a step backwards for the Armenian Nation but also sets a dangerous precedent at the international stage,” said Lauren DaSilva, AYF-YOARF Eastern USA Central Executive Chairwoman.

The protocols are just the latest manifestation of a continued Turkish genocidal policy towards the Armenian Nation. It is obvious that Turkey, which imposes an illegal blockade and whose geographic existence and economic prosperity were founded up the losses of Armenians, is using its advantage to convince the Armenian state to concede any possibility of restorative justice.

These concessions span beyond the authority of the Armenian government. They have no legitimate right to speak on behalf of the eight million diasporan Armenians. Worse, discussions on normalization were held secretly, in the dark, with no participation from the citizens of Armenia. Furthermore, unlike Armenia’s concessions, Turkey’s “concessions” are deferred, reversible, vaguely worded.

“I am absolutely disgusted with the foreign policy of the Sargsyan-Nalbandian regime,” Said Hrag Arakelian, Chicago Ararat Chapter Executive Member. “They have either sold out on the Armenian Cause for their own personal self interest or are just incapable of making sound policy decisions,” continued Arakelian.

Coming from as far away as Racine and Chicago, people of all ages boarded buses early in the morning from Boston, Providence, Worcester, Philadelphia and Washington, DC to participate.

The protest began with the singing of Mer Hairenik by Nina Froundjian. Dikran Khaligian led a program which included speeches by Lauren Da Silva on behalf of the Central Executive of the AYF, Antranig Kasbarian and George Aghjayan on behalf of Central Committee of the eastern USA Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Mourad Topalian, Levon Attarian, Hovig Charchaflian and Hrag Arakelian.

The rally ended with the symbolic presentation of a letter to the Armenian mission from the AYF on behalf of Protest for Justice (see below for text).

For more information visit: justicenotprotocols.com.

Letter to Armenia’s Ambassador to the UN

Ambassador Garen Nazarian Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations 119 East 36th Street New York, NY 10016

We have come here today, from Massachusetts to Florida, from Chicago to Philadelphia, to demand justice.

For centuries, Armenian people have lived in servitude to Turkey. However, the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia must be based on equality, not capitulation.

The independence of Artsakh must be guaranteed. The Armenian genocide must be accepted by the Turkish government as a crime against humanity with justice requiring reparations and the restitution of land.

These demands are non-negotiable.

The announced protocols aim to extinguish the rights of Armenians everywhere. We find this unacceptable. In the name of our ancestors who sacrificed so much and generations yet to come, we demand Justice Not Protocols.

AYF Protest for Justice September 19, 2009

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