I had just arrived in Artsakh in the summer of 1995, when I heard the distinctive sound of soldiers marching behind me.
As I turned around, a group of fresh-faced soldiers marched past me and toward the center of Stepanakert—Artsakh’s capital city. The soldiers appeared to be training for a chemical weapon attack. But their gas masks didn’t shock me. Instead, I was stunned by their apparent youth.
I’ve made dozens of trips to Artsakh since then, and I’ve observed a lot of progress in the country.
But after 25 years, there’s still been no improvement in Artsakh’s prospects for a just and lasting peace. Artsakh is still at war against an aggressor that denies Artsakh’s right to exist.
And so it is fitting that each year, the people of Artsakh publicly celebrate their existence, and commemorate another year of self-determination.
These photos show some of the scenes that I have observed, beginning in 1995, when I have joined the people of Artsakh in these commemorations of democracy.