WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian Youth Federation-Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (AYF-YOARF) Washington DC “Ani” Chapter organized a protest on Sunday at the Azerbaijani Embassy to demand justice for the Azerbaijani massacres targeting the Armenian communities in Kirovabad, Maragha, Sumgait and Baku.
From 1988 to 1990, the Armenian residents of these cities were targets of Azerbaijani state-sponsored violence. Azerbaijani forces marked the homes of Armenians on maps as they hunted them like violent predators. Innocent Armenian civilians were mutilated and burned alive as Azerbaijanis paraded the streets and shouted, “Long live Baku without Armenians” and “Death to the Armenians.” They gang-raped and sexually abused women, some of these events taking place publicly. Those who managed to escape death were forced to flee their homes and subjected to systematic deportation. The pogroms resulted in 500,000 Armenian refugees, while thousands were killed.
The DC community came together on Sunday morning at Soorp Khatch Armenian Church for a special requiem service (hokehankist) to honor the victims of the pogroms. Shortly after, members of the community gathered outside the Azerbaijani embassy to protest and chant, “We remember Baku” and “Free Armenian POWs.” AYF members were reminded of their duty to fight for the past, present and future of their homeland. They remembered the lives lost in Baku 30 years ago and pledged to continue fighting for over 200 Armenian POWs in Baku being tortured and abused by Azerbaijani forces today.
“We must remember the victims that fell to the pogroms in Sumgait, Baku, Maragha and Kirovabad. And that is why we are here today; that is why we are here every year and will continue to do so,” said AYF DC “Ani” member Galy Jackmakjian in her opening remarks. “In the revolutionary words of the AYF-YOARF ER, ‘Through our commitment to Hai Tahd, we will overcome our struggles.’”
The violence of these pogroms paralleled those of the Armenian Genocide years earlier. The continuous denial of the Genocide and these pogroms and the relentless Armenophobia embedded in Azerbaijani state policy remain a threat to the existence of the Armenian nation.
“From Sumgait and Baku in the 1980s to Shushi and Hadrut in 2020, to Syunik in 2021, innocent Armenian blood is on your hands, and no amount of oil and money can wash it off. Justice will be served,” said AYF DC “Ani” member Raffi Samurkashian.
The fight for justice for the pogroms that took place 30 years ago illustrates the everlasting will of the Armenian people. Karine Najarian, a DC “Sevan” Junior, read aloud the powerful words of Hovhannes Shiraz: “Բայց մենք յաւերժ ենք մեր լեռների պես, Դուք հողմերի պես կը կորչիք վայրագ.” In English, this translates to: “But we are eternal like our mountains. You all, like the wind, vanish violently.”
The AYF DC “Ani” Chapter pays tribute to the memory of the innocent victims of these anti-Armenian massacres and reminds everyone that the most important thing Armenians can do is show up. Show up for the lives lost during these pogroms, during the 2020 attack on Artsakh, and all the innocent lives lost due to Azerbaijani state-sponsored hatred. That is how the Armenian people can prove to the government and the people of Azerbaijan that they will never stop fighting. They will never stop demanding justice. This reaffirms the AYF’s everlasting commitment towards its goal of a free, united and independent Armenia.