VAN NUYS, CA–The Armenian Youth Federation paid tribute to the courage and dedication of Karabakh’s defense forces on Saturday, July 3 with a memorial event to honor the four Karabakh servicemen murdered last month during a late night attack by Azeri forces.
On June 18, only hours after the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Saint Petersburg for peace talks to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azeri soldiers attacked a defense outpost in Karabakh’s Mardakert region, killing four Armenian soldiers. The international community’s failed to condemn Azerbaijan for the attack.
The memorial demonstration was held minutes before Armenian music sensation Karnig Sarkisian took to the stage to perform for thousands of Armenian-Americans at the 35th annual Navasartian Games and Festival. Standing alongside dozens of young boys and girls holding Artsakh flags and candles, Santikian called observed a moment of silence for the fallen soldiers and called on the community renew its commitment to the Karabakh liberation struggle.
“Mnatsakan Gasparian, Araik Barseghian, Edward Manukian, and Paruir Melkonian were added to a long list of brave soldiers unjustly and inhumanely killed since the 1994 cease-fire,” Santikian exclaimed, speaking to a crowd of more than 5000 festival goers.
The international community has been unwilling to condemn Azerbaijan for the deadly attack, meanwhile the US, France, and Russia, which co-chair the OSCE Minsk group mediating the Karabakh conflict issued a joint statement in late June calling on Armenia to “withdraw from occupied territories.” Rather than blame Azerbaijan for its ongoing war rhetoric and repeated use of force, the the presidents of the three countries responded to the incident by again ignoring repeated demands to include Karabakh in the peace negotiations and cornering Armenia into more concessions.
“We are here right now to show our brothers and sisters of Artsakh that we are here for them, that we stand united with them today, and will stand by them tomorrow,” Santikian said, speaking to the crowd. “We will do everything that we can to make sure that a just and fair resolution is brought to end the violence in Artsakh so our people can live on our land, free and peacefully.”
The Navasartian demonstration came a week after the Armenian Revolutionary Federation “Nigol Aghbalian” Youth Organization protested against the Azeri assault at the OSCE headquarters in Yerevan. The protesters presented a letter to an OSCE representative at the headquarters and called on the pan-European organization to punish Azerbaijan for repeatedly violating the 1994 cease-fire agreement.
With chapters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization. Inspired by the past and motivated by the needs of the future, the AYF actively strives to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of all Armenian youth.