GLENDALE–The Armenian Youth Federation will be protesting Azerbaijan’s Consul General of Los Angeles, Elin Suleymanov, at the Pacific Club (4110 Macarthur blvd. Newport Beach, CA) on Thursday, March 4 from 6-9pm. Suleymanov will be speaking about Azerbaijan’s role in the world at an event sponsored by the World Affairs Council. The Azeri diplomat will also be discussing Azerbaijan’s position on Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
“With this latest event, the Azerbaijani Government continues its decades long campaign to deny self-determination to the people of Nagorno Karabagh, undermining international peace talks with threats of war and an ongoing blockade against neighboring Armenia,” stated protest organizer Caspar Jivalagian. “For this reason, we must stand strong and demonstrate our resolve to stop the lies and propaganda of the Azeri government and to support the peope of Artsakh.”
The protest comes days after the 22nd anniversary of the deadly pogroms of Sumgait on Feb. 27, 1988, which marked the beginning of a systematic campaign by Azerbaijan’s OMON Special Forces to use massacres and violence to forcefully uproot Armenians from Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh.
The events in Sumgait, which came as a direct response to Armenians’ expression of their right to self-determination in 1988, were followed by equally violent pogroms in the Azeri cities of Kirovabad, Baku and later in the Northern Shahoumian district of Nagorno-Karabakh. The violence against Armenians eventually escalated and Azerbaijan launched a military invasion into Nagorno-Karabakh, sparking a devastating war in the region that ended in 1994 with a ceasefire that left the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic free from Azeri rule.
Though a fragile state of “no peace, no war” has held over the years, Azerbaijan has refused to cooperate in internationally mediated peace talks with Armenia and has instead threatened to take Karabakh by force. On February 25, Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister, Safar Abiyev, stepped up Baku’s war rhetoric, this time threatening to launch an inevitable “great war” against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
These remarks, explained Jivalagian, are part of a well-documented pattern of threats and corresponding cease-fire violations initiated by the Azerbaijani Government.
“Concerns regarding Azerbaijan’s destabilizing actions in the region are compounded further when Azerbaijan’s grim human rights record is taken into consideration,” he said, adding that a country threatening to wage war on a democratic neighbor should not be allowed a forum in the United States. “Since Azerbaijan’s representative will be speaking here, we feel it is our obligation as human rights activists to inform the people attending the World Affairs Council event about Azerbaijan’s growing war rhetoric and rampant disrespect of human rights and democracy.”