Human behavior has a remarkable way of revealing the truth. I cannot recall a time when an Azeri or Turk looked desperate, sad or vulnerable at a protest. I am, however, chock full of memories when Azeris and Turks danced gleefully and laughed in the faces of Armenians while throwing up vicious Grey Wolves signs. More often than not, a sea of Armenian community members will gather to protest outside empty enemy buildings. Why? Because we are constantly fighting for the safety of our sacred lands and people.
On Thursday, at a protest organized by the AYF-YOARF DC “Ani” Chapter, our community united against the terrorism enacted by the Azerbaijani government on our homeland. We were faced with four U-Haul trucks instead of actual members from the Azeri community. There was a siren-blaring bullhorn and foreign music meant to drown out our voices.
Where were the people with tear-filled eyes? Where were the demands for stopping the aggression? As I looked around, it was clear that these things were exactly where they have always been. Amongst the Armenians. Participants as young as 11 years old and as old as 85 gathered to show unity and support for our brothers and sisters back home, whose lives are threatened every day.
We chanted in unison and demanded that Azerbaijan’s brutal dictator Aliyev stop bombing our innocent civilians and return our POWs. We sang songs together about martyred revolutionaries and the importance of rising up to fight. How can the identity of the aggressor be a question to the rest of the world after a day like today? Actions speak volumes words could never reach.
I have felt sadness heavy enough to crush me at events like these. I cannot hold back the tears that well up in my eyes as I scream the words to Yelek Hayer Baykari. I think about the thousands of young men who sacrificed their lives in the 2020 war, the countless families that were displaced from their homes and the innocent Armenian blood that continues to be shed because of ruthless insatiable enemies. I think about the Armenian government that has proven itself treacherous and unfit to be handling our precious future. We stand in front of Turks and Azeris year after year and are reminded of the uphill battle we must fight. They stand opposite to us while flaunting sick smiles and celebrating the blood on their hands.
There is no dispute in this. Artsakh is Armenian. Syunik is Armenian. Yerevan is Armenian. As diasporans, we must continue to hold on to each other and to these truths. We must believe that the power of protest is to show that we are strong, even though our hearts are bleeding for what we have lost. We must show our enemies and the rest of the world that no one can silence us.