“We will resist”

Kristine Antanesian delivering her formal remarks at a protest in Washington, DC, November 9, 2021

On the night of November 10th 2020, I joined fellow AYFers outside church to mourn the loss of so much of our beloved Artsakh. We huddled together at the foot of the khatchkar and wept. We cried for the generation of young martyred soldiers who would never again see their families. We cried for the displacement of our people from their homes. We cried for Hadrut, Karvachar, Berdzor and Shushi. We cried for the thought of the enemy walking the sacred soils of our ancestors and destroying their memory. We cried for Ghazanchetsots.

This was a sadness coupled with anger and frustration, for Artsakh was given, not lost. Struggling against outside enemies is not a new challenge for Armenians, but enemies within your own walls bring out a wretched agony that blackens your heart. Nikol Pashinyan betrayed our lands and our people when he signed the treacherous deal that sold our souls. One year after that dark day, young soldiers are getting shot despite the “peacekeepers.” Azeris and Turks have continued to lay claim to Armenian soil. Sniper rifles stand just yards away from the children of Syunik, and Armenian prisoners of war are still being held and tortured by Azerbaijan. Pashinyan and his regime do not know where their priorities should lie. Instead of making friends with Turkey, protect the land that those more noble than you gave their lives for. Instead of trying to run a business, run a country by filling it with national pride. Instead of asking if we need Shushi, understand why we need not only Shushi, but also Nakhichevan, Javakhk, and our Western Armenian lands. 

Nikol Pashinyan is placing the fate of our nation into the hands of our enemies, but we will not stand quietly while he does so. 

One year has passed since we wiped our tears, held hands in prayer, and then turned to each other with looks of retribution etched on each of our faces. In the last year, it has become our mission as diasporan Armenians to make it known to others that Nikol Pashinyan is a traitor who cannot be trusted. How much more land must we concede? How many more must die? How many more before it is realized that these things will never be traded for peace? Peace does not exist when your enemy stands to gain everything from your elimination. 

Watching all of this unfold a sea away has been one of the toughest things I have experienced. Every day I feel as though I am living two lives: one in which I am an American going through the motions, and another in which I am an Armenian who spends every extra minute thinking about how to save my country. Thankfully, I have the Armenian Youth Federation to mediate the two. I feel the most comfortable when I am in AYF spheres because I trust that I am with people who understand this existential crisis and the pain that it has caused. I also know that I am with people who have the ability to impact change through powerful organization. Even if the change is creating hope or inspiring others to care, that is infinitely better than compliance.

On Tuesday, there were protests happening in different Armenian communities as part of a worldwide resistance movement. All over the world, Armenians held up signs and chanted for no more concessions and the return of our POWs. We screamed about how we will not be silenced, and that we will continue to fight for our Armenian identity. I have chanted with many crowds, but this was more agonizing than any time before. Protesting at your own country’s embassy is something I never thought I would have to do, but we cannot stand idly by as Nikol Pashinyan digs our grave. We will resist the turkification he pursues. We will resist the concessions of even an inch more of land. We will resist every single day that our prisoners of war are not safely home. We will resist because the existence of our nation depends on it, and there is no cause more worthy than fighting for the preservation of your culture, the maintenance of your land and the protection of your people.

Every weekend, I look over at that khatchkar in the churchyard, and the eternity symbol carved into it stares back at me. This symbol is a reminder that Armenians have lived for five thousand years, and we will live for five thousand more. The Armenian spirit is unrelenting and does not wither. The feeling of pride for my country and heritage runs through my bones as it does for millions of Armenians, and that is what will save us against any foe. I am certain of it.

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Kristine Antanesian

Kristine Antanesian is a first generation Armenian whose parents immigrated to the United States from Iran. She studies biology and psychology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and hopes to enter medical school upon graduation. She has been a proud member of the Washington DC AYF chapter for years and currently serves on the executive.
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