Local Armenians protest U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan’s military

More than 100 people gathered outside the Azerbaijani consulate in Los Angeles on Saturday, demanding an end to attacks by Azerbaijani forces in a disputed border region with Armenia and Artsakh, where an estimated 200 people have been killed over the past week.

The demonstration coincided with a surprise weekend visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and two Armenian-American congressmen to Armenia and the introduction of a resolution in Congress by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) banning the US aid to Azerbaijan.

The US Embassy said the visit will include a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, according to the Associated Press.

Like many others who waved Armenian flags at the event organized by the Armenian Youth Association, Tenny Alahverdian, 20, said she was thinking of relatives “suffering on the front lines.”

“We hope that the United States will crack down on Azerbaijan,” she said. “For President Biden to call for peace while funding Azerbaijan’s military is a crazy – and deadly – double standard.”

The demonstration was part of decades of advocacy and activism by Armenians around the world. Much of this movement was centered in Los Angeles County, home to America’s largest Armenian diaspora community.

The movement began in the 1980s when children of survivors of the 1915-1918 Armenian Genocide settled in the United States. The genocide claimed the lives of more than 1 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, which became the modern Republic of Turkey.

Over the years, Armenian Americans have become more politically active, contributing to political campaigns and last year’s successful push to have Biden officially recognize the genocide.

Bitter memories of the massacre have deeply shaped Armenian and Armenian-American identities. But US presidents had avoided using the term “genocide” so as not to anger the Turkish government, a key ally that denies what took place constituted genocide.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of instigating the recent bloody clashes.

But protesters on Saturday outside the consulate on Wilshire Boulevard said fighting began in 2020, when Azerbaijan, with help from Turkey, launched a war to expel Armenians living in the disputed border region of Nagorno-Karabakh, dubbed the Artsakh Republic.

News of Pelosi’s visit to Armenia, coupled with Schiff’s proposed resolution, prompted Raffi Haig Hamparian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, to urge Congress to “stop sending US taxpayer money to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.”

“A halt to US aid to Azerbaijan,” he said, “would also call into question our State Department’s deeply flawed policy of responding to every act of Azerbaijani aggression with general calls on all parties to refrain from violence.”

However, the Azerbaijani consulate said in a statement on its website that the ongoing tensions “have arisen as a result of large-scale provocations by Armenia and therefore responsibility rests entirely with…Armenia.”

Alahverdian, the Los Angeles protester, said: “The situation doesn’t look good anyway, just by looking at it. It is difficult to be a member of the diaspora.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-17/local-armenians-protest-u-s-assistance-to-azerbaijans-military-forces Local Armenians protest U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan’s military

Alley Einstein

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