We Are Strong

The following remarks were delivered at the AYF-led protest in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington, D.C., held on February 25, 2024, commemorating Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian massacres in Sumgait-Baku-Maragha-Kirovabad (1988-1992) and demanding justice for the 2023 Artsakh genocide.

AYF D.C. “Ani” Chapter member Sune Hamparian at the February 25, 2024 AYF-led protest in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy commemorating Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian massacres in Sumgait-Baku-Maragha-Kirovabad (1988-1992) and demanding justice for the 2023 Artsakh genocide (Photo: Vartkaes Pamboukian)

1988 – Armenian blood was shed on the streets of Azerbaijan.

As we all know – too well – it was not the first time that Armenian families were torn apart.

Not the first time that screams and woeful cries filled Armenian lungs as countless eyes filled with tears.

Not the first time we strived to shield our hearts from yet more atrocities.

Nor was it the last.

Because, amid the Sumgait pogrom, streets across Azerbaijan were filled with protesters chanting “Death to the Armenians.”

And high off of their killings – the same thing took place in Baku and elsewhere.

Only worse.

More Armenian families ripped apart – more lives torn to shreds, more Armenian blood spilled in the streets.

These pogroms should not and can not be confused with the spontaneous acts of an angry crowd.

Like the Genocide of 1915, they were premeditated.

A planned effort to exterminate Armenians.

Lists of Armenian addresses, disconnected phones in Armenian households and the distribution of alcohol and drugs to angry hordes, all showed that it was a thoroughly planned effort.

A planned effort to kill Armenians.

1915 all over again.

Crimes left unpunished.

Genocide enabled and encouraged.

We saw the result of this in 2020, again during the blockade and again in the genocide of Artsakh just a few months ago.

These are not the victims of a century ago – or even three decades ago – but living, breathing families. All victims of the same crime.

The same intent: eliminating Armenians.

The same perpetrator: pan-Turkic killers.

Having emptied Western Armenia, then Nakhichevan and now Artsakh – they’ve turned their sights on Syunik.

Their goal: an Armenia emptied of Armenians.

Their weapon: terror and violence.

Their hope: Armenians – intimidated – afraid.

Armenians who have stopped caring.

We are gathered today to say that will never happen.

Our spirit is strong, and getting stronger.

As John Steinbeck wrote in The Grapes of Wrath, “The little screaming fact that sounds through all history [is that] repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”

His words ring true.

Forged in fire – strengthened by struggle.

We are strong.

Sune Hamparian

Sune Hamparian

Sune Hamparian joined the AYF DC “Sevan” Juniors in 2014 and served as the chapter’s president. She is currently a member of the AYF DC “Ani” Senior Chapter. As a student at Sidwell Friends School, she has organized and fundraised for Artsakh and other humanitarian causes. During summers in Armenia, she volunteers for service projects, including organizing summer camps and supporting legal efforts on behalf of Armenian POWs.
Sune Hamparian

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