Protesters Stage Spontaneous Sit-in
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Asbarez)—More than 3,500 community members heeded the calls from the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) on Fri., April 8, and gathered in front of the Azerbaijani Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard to protest Baku’s savage attacks on the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh), which targeted soldiers and civilians, including children.
At one point during the peaceful rally, the protesters, who were huddled on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Granville Avenue, began crossing the street northbound and staged a spontaneous sit-in in the middle of the street, blocking eastbound and westbound traffic.
Chanting, “Not one inch,” 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 (LAPD) worked with organizers to ensure the safety of the protesters and those around them. The organizers thanked LAPD for their service. They also thanked those around the consulate building for understanding the protest’s just cause.
In fact, the messages delivered by the speakers were loud and resolute: As long as 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 a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives in defense of Artsakh and proceeded to read the names of those soldiers and civilians—including a 12-year-old boy—who died during last week’s attacks by Azerbaijan.
Areni Hamparian, a member of the AYF Juniors, delivered a moving speech, in Armenian, declaring that as long as there was an existential threat to 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 and delivered 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 that “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 said the AYF’s “With Our Soldiers” campaign was busy working to ensure that our soldiers and families are taken care of; urged the crowd to assist in that effort; and encouraged the community to support Artsakh through the Armenian Relief Society’s (ARS) fund that was established after last week’s attacks.
Arakelyan’s 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 pledged their resolve and solidarity to Artsakh.
This was part of the Western U.S. community mobilization effort in the wake of the renewed attacks on the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic, with members and activists coming together to voice their unified protest against the most large-scale attack on Karabagh since the 1994 ceasefire agreement.
Ara Khachatourian is the editor of Asbarez English Section.