BOSTON, Mass.—Unwavering vocal support from Diasporan Armenians was echoing throughout the city of Boston on Friday evening in a demonstration calling for justice and condemnation against Azerbaijan’s unprovoked and wide-scale attacks on the Republics of Artsakh and Armenia.
The skies brightened up for an estimated 500 participants from throughout the New England area, who all converged outside the Massachusetts State House for the protest led by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Eastern Region. Artsakh’s Defense Forces had just concluded their sixth day of fighting during which the capital Stepanakert endured its most intense shelling to date.
“The world knows that Azerbaijan fired the first shot. The world knows that Turkey is behind this,” began Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern Region Central Committee Chairman George Aghjayan’s fiery address, highlighting the apparent paralysis of the United States government. “Their hands are dirty with the blood of Azeri oil. We need action,” he exclaimed.
Armenians believe this offensive orchestrated by Azerbaijan and Turkey is an existential threat, and they are doing whatever they can to lend their support to the ultimate cause. “Our very existence is threatened by our enemies, who approach us from all sides. This is why every Armenian must be driven by love of country, our history and our roots,” said AYF Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter member Aram Brunson before leading the crowd in what has now become a popular and spirited message among Armenians around the world—Հաղթելու Ենք (“We will win”).
“My heart goes out to all my brothers fighting in Armenia,” said AYF North Andover “Sassoun” member Anna Shahtanian while holding a large black and white infographic highlighting Azerbaijan’s intolerance for foreign journalists. “I’m honored to be here [doing] a small part in helping defend our homeland,” she continued.
Throughout the program, Diasporan Armenians captured the attention of pedestrians walking by the State House by chanting “With our soldiers,” “Armenia wants peace,” “Stop Azeri aggression,” and “Artsakh is Armenia.” Their demands were clear, namely US legislation condemning Azerbaijan and Turkey and an end to military funding to the oil-rich dictatorial regimes. Several AYF members also educated news outlets in attendance about the ongoing developments and that it was a deliberate and pre-planned attack by Azerbaijan.
After a rousing program led by senior members of the Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter, organizers made a spontaneous decision and instructed the hundreds in attendance to march through Boston Common to the Parkman Bandstand. Within moments, a sea of Armenian tricolors flooded the historic park. “The rally in our hearts doesn’t stop,” said Homenetmen Boston Executive member George Barmakian to a thunderous applause.
The undaunted spirit of the Armenian people was palpable across the city as attendees young and old, educators, religious leaders, strangers and friends alike marched through the Common raising awareness about Turkey’s genocidal history and Azerbaijan’s recent human rights violations. “We want to share what’s going on with others to make sure that this doesn’t go unexposed so later on in history we’re not still trying to justify something like the Genocide to be recognized,” said siblings Melani and Krikor Norsigian who drove two hours from Connecticut to participate in the demonstration.
“If I’m not here, I’m doing an injustice to me and my people,” said David Belorian of Belmont as he proudly marched with an Armenian flag draped around his shoulders.
Resounding calls for justice continued from the Parkman Bandstand, where longtime AYF members Ani Khatchatourian and Meghri Dervartanian rallied the crowd with a final set of powerful chants. “God bless and keep Armenia’s Armed Forces,” has been their faithful prayer. “Long live the Republic of Artsakh, long live the Republic of Armenia, and long live the people of Armenia.”