A saw, a knife, a hammer and metal rods were among weapons that a group of Azerbaijanis were carrying during a peaceful protest at the Azerbaijan’s Consulate in L.A. last week. Organized by the Armenian Youth Federation, the protest drew more than 3,000 people who collectively raised their voices and condemned Baku’s aggression against Armenia when Azerbaijani forces brazenly attacked civilian and military targets in Armenia’s Tavush Province beginning in July 12.
The group of 25 to 30 Azeris instigated violence when threw full water bottles at peaceful Armenian protesters resulting in clashes. The Los Angeles Police officers at the scene moved the Azeris to across the street. However, that didn’t stop the Azeris from inciting more clashes when some of the bottles hit teenage girls who were there to take part in the peaceful protest.
Since then, Azerbaijani hatred toward Armenians manifested itself in the brutal vandalizing of the Krouzian-Zekarian School and the adjacent Armenian Community Center in San Francisco, which was spray painted with crude and violent graffiti threatening Armenians.
This was part of a worldwide campaign by Azerbaijanis, clearly sanctioned by official Baku, that included the stabbing of an Armenian man in Moscow, damaging and looting Armenian-owned businesses across Russia, burning an Armenian-owned cafe in Kyiv, Ukraine, setting ablaze a vehicle belonging to the Armenian Embassy in Berlin, as well as other acts of violence in Europe and elsewhere targeting Armenians, the latest of which was reported Wednesday in Cologne, Germany where an Armenian-owned lounge was attacked by some 30 Azerbaijani assailants who donned masks and vandalized the establishment.
Arthur Vardanyan, a concerned community member, spent the last week scouring and reviewing various posts on several social media platforms. He found and provided Asbarez with photographic evidence that several people draped in the Azerbaijani flag were carrying knives, a saw, a hammer and metal rods, with one waving a leather belt.
Furthermore, video footage shows the weapons had been stockpiled outside of the Beal Bank building where the Azerbaijani group was moved by the police after they instigated violence before the protest was scheduled to begin by throwing water bottles.
“Why are these so called ‘peaceful’ [Azeri] protestors walking around with such potentially deadly tools?” wondered Vardanyan. “As if all this wasn’t enough, some Armenian guys were arrested as a result of this incident while no arrests were made of any Azeris.”
All of this fits the narrative being promoted by official Baku and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who in a Twitter post on Monday said: “All #Azerbaijani citizens, Azerbaijanis living abroad know that a strong Azerbaijani state stands behind them.”
Vardanyan also pointed out a Facebook post by a Los Angeles County Sheriff Officer Fakhri Mirzaguliyev, who is presumable of Azerbaijani descent, and who blamed Armenians for the clashes that took place at the protest.
“Why hasn’t the LA County Sheriff Department said anything about this injustice and manipulation?” wondered Vardanyan.
“Anyone with a healthy mind and logic—not to mention honesty and integrity—can see the manipulation in all of this,” added Vardanyan.
“Toxic Armenophobia that has been cultivated in Azerbaijan for decades under the watchful eye of the government is now finding its violent manifestation throughout the world, in a state-sponsored global campaign of aggression against Armenians,” said the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region Armen Sahakyan.
“We call on the international community to decry this assault campaign, calling on the Azerbaijani and Turkish governments to immediately cease all provocations. On our part, the ANCA-WR will continue to engage all tools at its disposal to protect the interests and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community and its institutions,” added Sahakyan.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian (CD-2), in a letter to LA Police Chief Michel Moore, warned of a potential surge in hate crimes against Armenians. In the letter, Krekorian requested that the LAPD command staff meet with him and representatives of the Armenian community “to discuss steps that can be taken to ensure the safety of the community during these times of heightened tension.”
Evidence of Azerbaijanis inciting violence against Armenians with weapons should be discussed during this meeting.