BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
LOS ANGELES—More than 3,500 community members heeded the calls from the Armenian Youth Federation on Friday and gathered in front of the Azerbaijani Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard to protest Baku’s savage attacks on Artsakh, where civilians and children were also targets of the Azeri aggression.
At one point during the peaceful rally, the protesters, who were huddled on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Granville Avenue, began to cross the street northbound and staged a spontaneous sit-in in the middle of the street, blocking eastbound and westbound traffic.
Chanting, “Not One Inch,” protesters the protesters sent a clear message to the Azerbaijani authorities that no amount of aggression and gunfire will force Armenians to concede any territory in Artsakh.
The Los Angeles Police Department, which was caught when protesters staged the sit-in, worked with organizers to ensure the safety of the protesters and those around them. The organizers thanked LAPD for their service, as well as the community around the consulate building for understanding the just cause for which the protest was staged.
In fact, the messages delivered by the speakers were loud and resolute. That as long there is a threat to Armenians anywhere in the world—and in this instance to the population of Artsakh—the nation will come together to defend the homeland.
AYF member Verginie Touloumian invited the crowd to observe the moment of silence in memory of the those who lost their lives in defense of Artsakh and proceeded to read the names of those soldiers, civilians and the 12-year-old boy who died during last week’s attacks by Azerbaijan.
Areni Hamparian, a member of the AYF Junior Organization, delivered a moving speech, in Armenian, declaring that as long as there was an existential threat on Artsakh, or any other Armenian land, Armenians will continue to fight for justice.
Puzant Berberian, a member of the AYF San Fernando Valley Sardarabad chapter spoke about attempts to distort facts and recounted Artsakh’s centuries old history as a bastion of Armenian culture and heroism.
AYF Central Executive Chairman Gev Iskajian directed his remarks to the Azerbaijani Consulate by delivering a clear message of resistance and condemnation, saying that a nation that won the Artsakh war in the first place, has the resolve and the means to ensure “not one inch” of land is conceded and that the brutal savagery on display by Azerbaijan would not be tolerated.
After rallying the crowd with messages of victory and heroism, Davit Arakelyan informed the crowd that the AYF’s “With Our Soldiers” campaign was busy working to ensure that our soldiers and families were taken care of and urged the community to assist in that effort, and encouraged to community to support Artsakh though the Armenian Relief Society’s fund that was established after last week’s attacks.
His message was clear: Armenians in Los Angeles and around the world will continue to fight until justice prevails and a Free, United and Independent Armenia is established.
The protesters vacated the street peacefully and moved to the front of the consulate building, where after singing the Armenian National Anthem, they collectively pledged their resolve and solidarity to Artsakh.
This was part of the Western US community mobilization effort in the wake of the renewed attacks on the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, with members and activists coming together to voice their unified protest against this, the most large-scale attack on Karabakh since the 1994 cease-fire agreement.