STEPANAKERT, Artsakh (A.W.)—World renowned Armenian artists Serj Tankian, Arsinée Khanjian, Atom Egoyan, and Eric Nazarian, along with other Armenian Dasporan representatives, visited Artsakh by invitation of the Tufenkian Foundation on April 3-6. There, they had the opportunity to interact with the people of Artsakh and to explore the work of the Tufankian Foundation in the country.
The artists and guests also met with Artsakh President, visited the newly renovated house of a soldier wounded in the war, met and talked to the local youth and artists, visited soldiers serving on the frontlines, and participated in the opening of six new homes in village of Arajamugh.
On April 4, during a press conference in Stepanakert, Tankian, Khanjian, Egoyan, and Nazarian called on the artists of the world to visit Artsakh and to cooperate with the local talented youth.
Below is the statement—provided by the Tufenkian Foundation—in its entirety.
One year ago, during this exact time, the Line of Contact (LoC) of the Artsakh conflict erupted once again when Azerbaijani Armed Forces, with a sudden attack, fired not only on the frontline, but also on peaceful residences, schools, and the unarmed population. Armenian forces, however, once again stopped the Azerbaijani aggression, which resulted in human and material losses for both sides.
In 1988, the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) decided to determine their own fate and exercised their right to self-determination by respecting the spirit of Soviet and International laws. Azerbaijan responded with pogroms, forced deportations, attacks, and wide-scale military operations.
Despite the fact that the international community, for various reasons, has not yet recognized the state of Artsakh, the generations of people who have lived on these lands for thousands of years continue to create and invent, build and prosper, even as Azerbaijani attacks, bombings, and shootings continue along Artsakh border.
Here, on these historic lands, where news about ceasefire violations, injuries, and deaths are commonplace, thousands of children and youth are deprived of their right to create, since the country remains blockaded and the ceasefire remains fragile. Thousands of talented people, instead of picking up pens and paintbrushes, are forced to take up arms and go to the frontline in order to protect their home and motherland. Due to the Azerbaijani attacks and this forced war, these young people are deprived of their right to create and hone their talents in peace. Thousands of children living in border regions hear the sounds of exploding bombs and shootings instead of listening to music in schools.
But despite all this, numerous young talents and artists continue to write, create, make music, and paint, even when they are isolated from the world due to the war and live blockaded. Unfortunately, they have little opportunity to come in contact with their colleagues from around the world as this blockade and isolation hinders regular visits, contact, and exchanges of experiences. For these creative minds and talented people, opportunities to open up to the world and meet others in their field are limited. They are simply deprived of these vital rights for artists.
This is why we call on all the free-thinking artists around the world to visit Artsakh and become allies for peace and harmony, to establish ties and build connections with local artists and talented creatives, and support them to open up to the world and exercise their universal right to create in peace and share their art with the world.