AYF leads Greater Washington, D.C. vigil in solidarity with “Tavush for Homeland” movement

Community stands strong against the illegal surrender of Tavush Armenian villages to a genocidal Azerbaijan

BETHESDA, Md.—The Armenian Youth Federation – Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (AYF) Washington, D.C. “Ani” Senior Chapter organized a powerful vigil and rally in support of Armenia’s growing “Tavush for the Homeland” movement, calling for an immediate halt to the illegal surrender of Armenian lands to Azerbaijan’s genocidal Aliyev regime.

The May 8 candlelight vigil took place at the historic “Khatchkar” monument located at Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church, as Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan and the “Tavush for the Homeland” protesters arrived in Yerevan, welcomed by tens of thousands of supporters from across Armenia.

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“The Tavush region Primate Bagrat Srpazan has issued a rallying call for unity – demanding the Armenian nation stand up and stop the Pashinyan government’s capitulation of Armenian sovereign land – of our homeland and our heritage,” began evening emcee, Homenetmen D.C. Scout and AYF “Ani” Chapter secretary Mary Markarian. “Greater Washington Armenians are gathered here tonight, along with our compatriots in Chicago, Boston, Detroit and Los Angeles, followed by our brothers and sisters in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Providence to say, ‘We are Tavush strong.’”

ARF Sebouh Gomideoutiun member Aram Balian condemned the Pashinyan government’s unilateral concession of Armenian “lands we have lived on for thousands of years, for false promises from a genocidal dictator who is determined to eradicate every last Armenian – including all of us here tonight.” He characterized the “Tavush for the Homeland” movement as “not one of foreign agents, revolution or radicalism. It is one of rationality. It is a plea for stability and cohesion in the face of evil, of treason, of genocidal intent. It is an ask, no, a demand for unwavering strength in the guardianship of our nation, our land, our homeland – in defense of Tavush, Syunik, Lori, Yerevan and more.”

AYF Washington D.C. “Sevan” Junior Chapter chair Meghri Aguilian, in a poignant message shared in Armenian, called the surrender of our strong position in Tavush “illegal and a betrayal of our nation.” She quoted remarks by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan at a May 6 rally: “This will be the beginning of our eternal journey. Armenia is an eternal truth! Armenia has one value – its highest value – and that is its eternity.”

ANCA National Grassroots Director Gev Iskajyan sent an inspirational word of hope from the Greater Washington, D.C. Armenian community: “To the people of Artsakh who have lost their homeland, to the people of Armenia who feel disenfranchised, distraught or downtrodden, know that as long as we are here, you will never be voiceless. As long as we are here, you will never be without a fight. As long as we are here, and even though the world may turn its back on you, you will never be alone.”

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Markarian highlighted the united support for the “Tavush for the Homeland” movement from His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, the spiritual leader of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Homenetmen D.C. Scout and AYF D.C. “Sevan” Junior executive member Sevak Stepanyan and St. Mary’s Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYO) member Daniel Gevorgyan Poliquin then read solidarity statements by Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern U.S., and Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern U.S.

ARF Sebouh Gomideh member Areni Margossian shared the ARF Eastern Region Central Committee statement, expressing solidarity with the movement. “We stand with our brothers and sisters in preventing Pashinyan’s planned May 15 handover of our lands to the genocidal Aliyev regime and support efforts to replace the Pashinyan regime with the patriotic, honorable and resilient leaders our homeland needs and deserves,” read Margossian.

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Noting that the illegal surrender of Armenian lands to Azerbaijan not only undermines Armenia’s viability but endangers Armenian cultural heritage, Markarian invited AYF D.C. “Sevan” Junior and Homenetmen D.C. Scout Victoria Penenian to recite Mikael Nalbandian’s immortal poem “Azadoutioun” (Freedom) and asked AYF D.C. “Ani” Chapter members and professional musicians Alexandra and Lilia Yaralian to perform a beautiful piece by Gomidas on the kanoun.  Soorp Khatch Armenian Church Board of Trustees chair and choir director Anahid Dardarian ended the evening, leading participants in renditions of “Der Voghormia” and “The Lord’s Prayer.” The solidarity rally was blessed with the robust support of the Homenetmen D.C. Scouts, who sang the U.S., Armenia and Artsakh anthems and stood at attention throughout the program.

That same evening, in front of the Armenian Embassy, one of Pashinyan’s infamous border posts, which was first spotted in Tavush, was seen again, this time with the message, “Save Tavush.” “Neither Pashinyan nor his administration have the right to hand over our homeland piece by piece to the enemy. United, we demand the end to the surrender of sacred soil,” stated an AYF D.C. “Ani” social media post.

A Greater D.C. community message to the Embassy of Armenia: #SaveTavush

Video highlights from the AYF D.C. vigil are available here, and the vigil was live streamed on the AYF D.C. “Ani” Chapter Facebook page.

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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