On January 21, 2023, a group of people gathered in the cold, breezy winter to stand in front of the iconic and architecturally world-famous White House located in the nation’s capital of Washington DC. We were not tourists. We were not out for a pleasant stroll before withdrawing to our cozy homes. We were not planning to rendezvous at a cafe with friends. We were taking part in an AYF-led protest objecting to Azerbaijan’s blockade and inhumane actions against the 150,000 indigenous Armenians residing in Artsakh.
Blocking access to the Lachin Corridor—the only road leading to Artsakh’s lifeline of Armenia—is not only another of many attempts to ethnically cleanse the Armenians of Artsakh, but it’s a message to the Armenian people that we are not safe on our own lands. Along with the cruelty displayed against Artsakh, reports of a deteriorating state of affairs regarding Armenia’s region of Syunik lend to our worries for Armenia’s future.
After over 40 days of what can only be described as crimes against humanity, Azerbaijan is slowly attempting to strangle Artsakh’s residents as supplies, food, medicine and energy are depleted by the enemy. I can only assume that Ilham Aliyev, the brutal dictator of Azerbaijan, aspires to deplete the hope of this small group of people as well.
Most young Armenian Americans cannot fully understand these horrors as many of us grew up in the relatively stable country of America, without the constant fear of foreign invasion by an enemy that would rather see us eradicated. Unlike those of us protesting on Saturday, the citizens of Artsakh do not have the choice to retreat back into comfort.
Which begs the question, what can we as Americans do for the Armenian people in Artsakh? Over 100 people gathered outside the White House to answer that question. Approximately 250,000 people have sent impassioned pleas to Congress through the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) to sanction Azerbaijan, send emergency aid to Artsakh and actionably do something to end the blockade.
Despite a separation of thousands of miles, the Armenians of America continue to come out in support of Artsakh. Whether it was during the war of 2020 or today’s ongoing humanitarian crisis, we have made a conscious decision never to abandon Artsakh, even when the world seems indifferent to our demands for action. We have the privilege of peaceful assembly as Americans to voice our concerns to the leaders of the powerful country we reside in, that we, as their citizens, do not want our tax dollars or our government to support a genocidal state intent on the destruction of the Armenian nation. Despite our voices being ignored time and again over centuries, we always persevered, survived and fought against our less-than-ideal circumstances. And no matter what, the Armenian Diaspora all around the world stands with Artsakh and will continue to use their voices, individual influence, finances and protesting ability to ensure each government that hosts us is aware of where we firmly stand.