Women of Artsakh for Peace

Women of Artsakh for Peace demonstration, March 26, 2022 (Photo: Siranuysh Sargsyan)

International Women’s Day was far from a holiday for the women of Artsakh. Motivated by the gas supply crisis in the region that left 120,000 people without heat or hot water and the recent deadly Azeri aggression near the village of Parukh, members of the “Women of Artsakh for Peace” initiative led a peaceful demonstration in Renaissance Square on Saturday to raise awareness.

“Our main goal is to appeal to the members of the UN Security Council and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs demanding not to ignore the anti-Armenian policy and steps of the Azerbaijan-Turkey alliance against Artsakh and Armenia, to draw the attention of political circles and public opinion to this new anti-Armenian policy through various protests,” explained organizer Alyona Sargsyan. “We also called the attention of the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation stationed in Artsakh to ensure the return of the enemy forces to their starting points and the maintenance of peace.”

Women of Artsakh for Peace demonstration, March 26, 2022 (Photo: Siranuysh Sargsyan)

Rosa Sayadyan, a mother of three young children, who also actively participates in these demonstrations, expressed her just indignation and called on the international community in her message: “Today, we, the people of Artsakh, are here because the existence of our homeland, the existence of each of us is in danger! The Armenians of Artsakh are facing yet another genocide by Azerbaijan,” she stressed. “We are here for the sake of our future, for the sake of our rights to live peacefully in our homeland. Aliyev’s greed knows no bounds. He wants more Armenian territories and more and more Armenians killed. He is not going to stop until he reaches his goal – the extermination of Armenians of Artsakh and Artsakh without Armenians. In the last 30 years, we have had three bloody wars in which thousands have been killed and displaced from their homes. We are calling today on the international community, the UN, the OSCE Minsk Group! It is in your power to stop the genocide of the Armenians of Artsakh! We are grateful for your deep concerns, but they are not enough. It is in your power to recognize the rights of the people of Artsakh, to recognize Artsakh and urge Azerbaijan to stop the extermination of Armenians. This is not a territorial issue. This is about the lives of 120,000 Armenians who live in Artsakh, and our lives are endangered by the Azerbaijani policy. This is about the rights of people for self-determination. This is the struggle of the people of Artsakh for their fundamental rights and peace, for a safe and dignified future. Once again, we call on all of civilized humanity to recognize the Artsakh Republic and save the Armenians of Artsakh from ethnic cleansing and genocide!”

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Narine Karapetyan, like many others throughout the republic, endured harsh conditions during the gas crisis. “We’ve united here to raise our voice and let the world know about the humanitarian crisis and the immediate threat of extermination of the indigenous Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) by Azerbaijan’s Armenophobic regime,” she told the Weekly. “The fascist nature of its acts is apparent with the only difference being that the fascists of the past were exterminating Jewish people in gas chambers while these fascists cut off gas supply to freeze us out. They try to silence us by isolating us from the rest of the world and go unpunished.”

Narine Karapetyan at Women of Artsakh for Peace demonstration, March 26, 2022 (Photo: Siranuysh Sargsyan)

Having declared martial law in Artsakh, President Arayik Harutyunyan signed a decree over the weekend calling for some temporary restrictions, including the right to assemble.

The protesters have not clarified their future plans after this announcement, assuring, however, that they will not remain silent.

On March 27, a number of Azeri media outlets reported that the Azerbaijani “Azerigaz” company had allegedly eliminated the consequences of the accident on the Artsakh gas distribution line, and that gas supplies would be restored in Artsakh from March 29.

“Artsakhgaz” CJSC issued a response that “Azerigaz” is not involved in supplying Artsakh with natural gas, which is delivered from Armenia by “Gazprom Armenia.” “The statement once again proves that after the March 8 explosion of the gas pipeline in the Shushi section and the obstruction of its repair activities for days, the Azerbaijani side deliberately installed a valve on the gas pipeline, taking advantage of the unfavorable weather conditions to cause additional humanitarian problems for the people of Artsakh,” the statement reads. 

As of March 28, the gas supply was restored in Artsakh. 

In the meantime, despite all these difficulties, the women of Artsakh remain determined. As protester Gayane Arstamyan stated, “For every person, the homeland is where they live. I live here, in the land where my grandparents and my great-grandparents lived. I am sure that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will live here too.”

Women of Artsakh for Peace demonstration, March 26, 2022 (Photo: Siranuysh Sargsyan)
Siranush Sargsyan

Siranush Sargsyan

Siranush Sargsyan is a freelance journalist based in Stepanakert.

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