The ongoing blockade of the only road of life connecting Artsakh to Armenia has been obstructed for 100 days already. It has been 100 days that Artsakh has been surrounded and cut off from the rest of the world, as a result of which the entire population, including 30,000 children, has been isolated. The people of Artsakh have been deprived of food, medicine, fuel and other necessities under conditions including frequent disruption of the electricity and gas supply during severe winter. For 100 days, the people of Artsakh have been living in a state of limbo, with pain, loss of relatives and longing for family members on the other side of the road; however, a sense of solidarity has been born whereby people with their limited resources are trying to help each other, to share what they have, to stand behind each other and to wait with hope.
STEPANAKERT—On March 21, the 100th day of the blockade, the Artsakh Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) organized a protest with other youth non-governmental organizations in Artsakh in Renaissance Square.
“Man does not live by bread alone, but also by the word that comes from God,” said Rev. Fr. Vachagan Gyurjyan, quoting the Gospel in his opening remarks, noting that the people of Artsakh have survived this truth with the many difficulties they have endured during these 100 days. “Nobody can deprive us of God’s grace, from our motherland, because we are bound by the love of our land,” he added.
In her speech, ARF Artsakh Youth member Heghinar Grigoryan recalled the struggle back in 1988 and noted that our people have been facing an existential crisis for 35 years. She said that during these uncertain times, people must regain the will to fight and understand that Armenia and Artsakh can only survive together. “The motherland needs us, and we also need the motherland,” she continued. “Two years after the war, we are still digging graves, where we are burying the remains of our policemen who were victims of a terrorist attack carried out by Azerbaijan. Struggle is written on our forehead to preserve our Armenian homeland, because the homeland is not just land,” concluded Grigoryan.
Gev Iskajyan of the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Artsakh emphasized all the hardships that the people of Artsakh have endured during these 100 days and stressed that the purpose of the protest is to illustrate the strength and will of Artsakh. “We have heard many words from various international organizations during this time, but we call on them to turn those words into real actions, be it through sanctions or other pressures, because that is the only way we can achieve the opening of the corridor,” urged Iskajyan.
Artsakh State University lecturer Iskuhi Avanesyan, who joined the protest with her students, also believes that the various resolutions, appeals and the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are welcome, but until concrete actions are taken, Azerbaijan is emboldened to continue its provocations and threats, psychological and physical pressures. This was also expressed by the recent threats made by Ilham Aliyev from the occupied Talish village of Artsakh. “However, despite those threats, we are not going to leave our homeland. We are uncompromised in protecting it,” insisted Avanesyan.
Asya Aharonyan, a student of Avanesyan, stressed that Azerbaijan’s goal is depopulation and repatriation of Armenians from Artsakh, but the future of Artsakh depends on the youth, who are determined to resist these physical and psychological pressures.
ARF Artsakh Youth member and Weekly contributor Vahagn Khachatryan, one of the organizers of the protest, told the Weekly that the goal is to remind the international community once again that despite the fact that Artsakh is in a difficult situation, this is not the first time. “My generation has proven that they are the owners of this country, that they are ready to sacrifice even their lives. But we must be united, not indifferent.” He mentioned that this is also a call to action for youth in Armenia and around the world, who these days are holding demonstrations in different corners of the world in support of Artsakh. The youth of Artsakh once again show their determination to live and create in this land, despite these difficulties and the apathy of the international community.