The US election is fast approaching, and we are tired. COVID-19 is still ever-present, and we are reaching our bandwidth of what else we can take on. But I have to write. As an Armenian American, I have to try again. These past few weeks have carried a heaviness and toll for Armenians. Suddenly we were thrown right back into the trauma and collective memory of pain that we carry as a nation and diaspora. We are watching as Artsakh continues to be bombed and Azerbaijan tries to paint us as the aggressors. We go to sleep with bombing updates and wake up frantically checking on the status of the war.
We are generations that have grown up with the Armenian Genocide, a wound that will not close because Turkey still denies it happened despite vast historical evidence. Armenia is a country of three million. At nearly 11 million strong, the diaspora is feeling the threat to our existence once more. If only that were an exaggeration… A war thousands of miles away does not mean it does not affect us here. I have grown up knowing that fighting the denial of the genocide of my people is something I would carry forever and always speak up about. And so, I continue to write and share with my community as we watch what is happening in Artsakh, as Turkey helps supply Azerbaijan with weapons to carry out the attacks. We are watching helplessly as Armenia gets attacked as well. And we watch as there is little national media coverage, and the international community stays silent.
I write for those who cannot…for those who marched before us, not peacefully or purposefully as we do now, but on forced death marches through the deserts of Deir ez-Zor, Syria. I write for those who were forced to march for days until they no longer could. I write for those who were sick, dying and so dehydrated they did not know which way was up or down. I write for the aching mothers who had to make the unimaginable decision of which child to leave behind as they could no longer care for them. I write for those who experienced immense torture, whose stories will never be told. I write for my great-grandmother Maryam, who was told to run and not look back at eight years old. I write for my great-grandfather Nerses, who saw his family killed in front of him at 12 years old. I write for my great-grandmother Nevart, who could not share her entire story and took most of it to the grave. I write for all the lost family members woven in my family tree and history that I will never know since the tree and records stopped in 1915.
I write for our past, present and future so that my son’s future still includes a thriving Armenia and Artsakh. So that he may visit our small but mighty country with its rich and deep history dating back to BC. So that he can visit the ancient churches and monasteries and feel their power just as I did. So that he can visit his homeland and know his roots and identity. I write for the Armenians who are selflessly leaving their comfortable lives in the US to go to Armenia to fight or to volunteer with humanitarian relief efforts. I write for those fathers who are watching their sons return to the battleground they themselves were at 30 years ago and for the fathers who are joining their sons to fight again.
Our collective voice is the counter-story to those that continue to seek to finish us off. That is what is happening. They have made it clear and made statements encouraging our destruction. Turkey and Azerbaijan have already altered their history of what happened and are trying to control the current narrative once more with denial. We are seeing an aggressive Azeri social media campaign right along the real war with bots to flood comment sections and target celebrity postings at scheduled times. They are trying to paint Armenians as aggressors—Armenia, our tiny landlocked nation, which had a peaceful democratic revolution two years ago. Armenia is currently letting all press in, while Azerbaijan is not. Azerbaijan has a lockdown on most social media in the country and controls what is reported about this war. Their news goes through the government first. So, who is the aggressor here?
Our history is one of struggle and pain, but it is also one that strengthens us. One that unites and ignites us to speak up as one voice. A history that has created a collective force so strong that we raised over $100 million in two weeks for our cause, all through grassroots efforts. A history that has sparked global protests and marches, one that brought 150,000 peaceful protestors together in Los Angeles and will continue to propel us forward to fight for our country and homeland. We will persist with marching, protesting, calling on our elected officials, and speaking up for Armenia and Artsakh.
So I continue to write once more. And I will again and again. Our country needs us. But not only the Armenians in the Diaspora, it needs all of us. We are watching the unimaginable happen to our people over a century after genocide. We need everyone’s help to stop this war against Armenians.