Our Fight for Survival

Nareg Mkrtschjan and Seta Sahagian (New Jersey), older group essay winner

Editor’s Note: Seta Sahagian, a member of the AYF New Jersey “Arsen” Chapter, was one of six winners in the 2022 Junior Seminar Council AYF Camp Haiastan Campership Essay Competition. The winners were announced at last month’s Junior Seminar. The winning authors received prize money and publication of their essays in the Armenian Weekly. Sahagian’s essay, which won first place in the older group (ages 15 to 16), answered the following prompt: How has the recent Artsakh War affected the global Armenian nation? Despite the Armenian Genocide being recognized, the results of the war are continuing. How do we feel as American Armenians?

As Armenians, we always repeat the phrases, “Never Forget” and “Never Again.” Though these mantras are used in reference to the 1915 Armenian Genocide, we can also say the same about the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. The Nagorno-Karabakh War, also referred to as The Second Artsakh War, was a 44-day war ignited by Azerbaijan’s wide-scale military offensive along the Line of Contact with Artsakh. At a minimum, 3,700 soldiers and 80 civilians were killed. The fate of around 243 soldiers and 20 civilians is still unknown. There are about 200 Armenian prisoners of war in Azerbaijan.

While the final political status of Artsakh has been unresolved since the end of the first Artsakh War in 1994, the Armenians of Artsakh had achieved a de-facto independent state. They enjoyed freedom and self-rule for nearly 30 years. After their defeat in 2020, the Armenians of Artsakh have lacked security and have struggled to spotlight the cultural destruction by Azerbaijan in the territories which have fallen under Azerbaijani control to an indifferent world. This is a continuation of Azerbaijani and Turkish genocidal intent, to rid the entire region of Armenians, and any trace of Armenian civilization, dating back to the late 1800s. Moreover, the small part of Artsakh still remaining inhabited by Armenians under the protection of the Russian military exists today with a very uncertain future.

The defeat in the second Artsakh war left the entire Armenian nation in a state of shock. The psychological impact of this bitter defeat left it vulnerable to internal divisiveness and civil unrest. Moreover, it has left both the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh vulnerable to continued attacks, while their territories remain under constant threat. While President Joe Biden’s recognition of the 1915 Armenian Genocide was a welcome, albeit long-overdue development, it rang hollow to the Armenian nation. Recognizing the atrocities from over 100 years ago, while ignoring the ongoing attempts of genocide by the current Turkish and Azeri states, means that our chants of “Never Forget” and “Never Again” have not been heard.

As the Armenian Diaspora, we have worked diligently to help our loved ones in our homeland. But as American Armenians, many of us are unable to be present in the lands of war; we are of service from where we stand. We realize that we can influence the results of war and help diminish the effects on the Armenian nation. Various AYF chapters have led community-wide protests condemning Azerbaijani and Turkish aggression against Artsakh and Armenia. We have demanded sanctions against Aliyev and Erdogan regimes, and Armenians all over have marched to Turkish Embassies, echoing our chants for justice. As the AYF, we have stood united with communities, in our struggle for Artsakh and Armenia’s freedom.

Though the Armenian Genocide has been recognized by the United States and most of the civilized world, the Armenian nation remains disappointed and largely stands alone in its fight for survival. In light of the war and ongoing casualties, our passions grow immensely and greater as the days pass. We have stood for over 100 years after the Armenian Genocide, fighting for recognition and restorative justice. Our fight for survival continues.

We continue to stand with our brothers and sisters in Artsakh who stand defiantly in the face of an aggressive Azerbaijani enemy. We stand united with our brothers and sisters in Armenia. We stand with the children who live in fear to go to school every day. As we stood with our ancestors many years ago, we stand with Artsakh today. As we have called out on the streets and as an AYF member I am always ready to say, “Artsakh is Armenia.”

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Founded in 1933, The Armenian Youth Federation is an international, non-profit, youth organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). The AYF-YOARF Eastern United States stands on five pillars that guide its central activities and initiatives: Educational, Hai Tahd, Social, Athletic and Cultural. The AYF also promotes a fraternal attitude of respect for ideas and individuals amongst its membership. Unity and cooperation are essential traits that allow members of the organization to work together to realize the AYF’s objectives.
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@AYFeast

AYF-YOARF | ՀԵԴ Armenian Youth Federation - Eastern Region USA Հայ Երիտասարդաց Դաշնակցութիւն - ԱՄՆ Արեւելեան Շրջան
This evening in Yerevan, AYF Interns participated in Resistance Protests with Aspram Krpeyan - member of the Nation… https://t.co/puJdEDQLck - 3 weeks ago
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