Greater Washington Armenian community March for Justice for the Armenian Genocide of 1915-2024

Amb. Sam Brownback joins AYF-YOARF-led protest demanding an end to U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan, support for Artsakh Armenians’ safe and dignified return home

April 24th March for Justice participants demand the Biden administration stop military aid to Azerbaijan, sanction Azerbaijan’s leaders for war crimes and support the safe and dignified return of Artsakh’s forcibly displaced population.

WASHINGTON—On Wednesday, April 24, 2024, as the world marked Armenian Genocide Justice Day, the Armenian Youth Federation – Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Washington D.C. “Ani” chapter (AYF “Ani” Chapter) led a powerful “March for Justice” through the streets of the nation’s capital, condemning Turkey and Azerbaijan’s genocide against the Armenians from 1915-1923 and its continuation in Artsakh in 2023 and onward. Starting from the Embassy of Azerbaijan, the marchers proceeded past the Embassy of Turkey to their final destination – the White House – where they called on the Biden administration to end U.S. military aid and sanction Azerbaijan for its genocidal actions and to lead efforts to secure the safe and dignified return of Artsakh Armenians, under international protection.

The Republic of Artsakh flag winds its way down the streets of the nation’s capital, held proudly by the students and teachers of the KZV Armenian School (San Francisco, CA) and Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School (Sherman Oaks, CA) during the April 24, 2024 March for Justice.

AYF “Ani” Chapter chair Galy Jackmakjian offered opening remarks at the Azerbaijani Embassy, emphasizing the existential challenges facing present-day Armenia, particularly the Aliyev regime’s genocidal ethnic cleansing of Artsakh. She echoed the sentiments of Armenians worldwide, but left the crowd feeling empowered. “Today, we stand strong as the protectors of our nation – the sword and the shield – reborn with a spirit of righteous vengeance, determined to safeguard our heritage and secure a bright future for generations to come,” stated Jackmakjian.

The March for Justice went from the Azerbaijani Embassy past the Turkish Embassy and to the White House, with a Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department escort.

Homenetmen Washington Scout Troop 1918 and AYF “Ani” Chapter member Maria Stepanyan called participants to action, exclaiming, “…let us sacrifice…five minutes out of every day, not only for the future, so that our sons and daughters still have a place to call home, but for the present, for every single boy who is protecting our uncertain borders today.”

AYF-YOARF D.C. “Ani” Chapter chair Galy Jackmakjian leads the rally at the White House.

The uniformed Homenetmen Washington Scout Troop 1918 color guard then kicked off and led marchers in a strong expression of remembrance, defiance and solidarity, bringing together the Armenian community of Washington, D.C.

Homenetmen Washington D.C. Scout Troop 1918 color guard lead the March for Justice

The marchers continued down “Embassy Row” and reached Sheridan Circle, the site of the Turkish ambassador’s residence where President Erdogan ordered an attack on peaceful protesters in 2017. Genocide deniers – waving Turkish flags and making gestures in support of the “Grey Wolves” hate group – celebrated the crimes of 1915 and praised Armenia Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s unilateral concessions to Azerbaijan, chanting, “Pashinyan, Pashinyan.”  

Genocide deniers holding a counter-protest, brandishing the “Grey Wolves” symbols of racism and hate.

Meghri Aguilian, Homenetmen scout and chair of the AYF “Sevan” Junior Chapter, stood strong against Turkish taunts. She recounted stories of her great-grandmother Takouhi, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, as bystanders stopped to listen to her words. “And when the enemy demands I forget, I will shout even when my throat is sore. I will proudly carry my flag even when my arms hurt from the heavy strain. I will march even when I’ve grown old. I will protest until I wither away. I will pass on the story of my great-grandmother to my children and grandchildren, and they will follow in my footsteps to fight against the neverending injustices against our people,” stated Aguilian.

Meghri Aguilian, AYF-YOARF D.C. “Sevan” Juniors chair and Homenetmen Scout, stands up to taunts by Turkish counter-protesters and shares the powerful story of her great-grandmother Takouhi.

The march culminated at the White House, where participants called out the Biden administration for U.S. complicity in Azerbaijan’s genocidal ethnic cleansing of Artsakh through its military aid to the corrupt Aliyev regime and failure to impose sanctions on Azerbaijani war criminals in the aftermath of the 2020 Artsakh War and 2023 attack and ethnic cleansing of Artsakh.

Former Kansas Senator and Governor and former U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback issued a powerful call on the White House and Congress to take action. “We can’t let a repeat of 1915 happen again in our watch. We call on President Biden to stand up for Armenia. We call on the Congress to stand up for Armenia. We are calling on Congress to stop the export of weaponry from the United States to Azerbaijan.”

Former Kansas Senator, Governor and U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback told March for Justice participants: “We can’t let a repeat of 1915 happen again on our watch.”

Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian slammed the Biden administration’s appeasement of Aliyev’s genocidal actions. “President Biden’s record is all too clear: No U.S. leadership to prevent or punish Azerbaijan’s genocide of Artsakh; no U.S.-led U.N. resolution to secure Artsakh’s right to return; no pressure on Azerbaijan to end its occupation of Armenian land; no sanctions on Azerbaijan for illegally holding Armenian POWS; no investigations into Azerbaijani war crimes; not a single step to reverse this reversible genocide.”

ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian calls out Biden administration complicity in Azerbaijan’s genocidal ethnic cleansing of Artsakh.

Hamparian then shared presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s powerful pro-Artsakh message issued in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. “If left without international support, the Armenian Genocide of 1915 will be finalized in the coming weeks and months. We must act now to hold Azerbaijan accountable by calling for the release of the hostages and enforcing sanctions until a safe and viable path for the return of the indigenous Armenians to Artsakh is achieved,” stated Kennedy.

Closing remarks were offered by AYF “Ani” Chapter Hai Tahd Committee chair Sune Hamparian, who lamented that calls for “1915 Never Again” had turned hollow in the face of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s ongoing genocide against the Armenian people. “When will they stop?” she asked. “They will not stop.  And we will not sit and wait for them to stop. I cannot sit and wait for the village of Artsvanik, the place I call home, to suffer the same fate as Artsakh.” Hamparian vowed, “We will fight – giving every ounce of ourselves to this cause. We will not bend. We will not bow. We will not break. We will rise and break the cycle of genocide. Gamavor Banak, Harach.”

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The “March for Justice” was strengthened once again this year by the participation of students from the Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan (KZV) Armenian School from San Francisco, California, and the C&E Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School from Sherman Oaks, California, joined by their principals, Grace Andonian and Dr. Souzy Ohanian respectively, teachers and parents. During the program at the White House, each school offered its ode to the beauty and resilience of Armenian culture, reciting Antranik Dzarukyan’s “Ookhd Ararati ” and Hamo Sahian’s “Hayastan Aselis.

Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church Pastor, Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, leads protesters in prayer for the 1.5 million sainted martyrs of the Armenian Genocide and for survivors of Azerbaijan’s genocidal ethnic cleansing of Artsakh.

The protest culminated with prayers led by Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church pastor Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian. Finally, the crowd joined esteemed vocalists and musicians, AYF “Ani” Chapter members Alexandra and Lilia Yaralian, in singing “Giligia.” In that moment of unity and solidarity, participants reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to the cause, vowing to continue the struggle until justice is served and the Armenian people are able to live in peace on their ancestral lands. As the echoes of the march faded, the resolve of the Armenian community remained steadfast, fueled by the memory of the past and the promise of a brighter future in a free, independent and united Armenia.

Alexandra and Lilia Yaralian lead March for Justice protesters in a moving rendition of “Giligia” in front of the White House.
AYF DC "Ani" Chapter

AYF DC "Ani" Chapter

Founded in 1942, the AYF Washington DC “Ani” and “Sevan” chapters work to unite Armenian youth and organize activities in the DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The chapter has a Senior ("Ani") and Junior ("Sevan") chapter. The Washington DC “Ani” chapter sets out to achieve its goals and objectives throughout the year and hosts events like joint meetings between DMV juniors and juniors in Armenia, protests and other forms of political activism, an annual chapter anniversary dinner and fundraisers to benefit the homeland. The AYF-YOARF's five pillars (athletic, cultural educational, political, social) guide the chapter and help keep its membership active and at the forefront of the Armenian cause at all times.

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