Op-Ed: Your Armenian friends need you

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The Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi, Artsakh, also known as the Holy Savior Cathedral. Photo courtesy of Biana Gaboudian (’21).

Biana Gaboudian, Guest Writer

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The silence from my peers and greater community towards a second genocide in Armenia is deafening. Immediately after a moment when everyone was using their social media to bring awareness to the other injustices in our world, I thought it would have continued for my country as well.

This activism is not selective, but it is not too late to educate ourselves and become an effective ally to the Armenian community. 

Currently, there are military attacks by the once Soviet republic and now country Azerbaijan on the Armenian territory of Nagorno Karabakh (Republic of Artsakh). The international community, including the United States and the United Nations, watched silently as the Azerbaijani military forces, backed by Turkey, initiated an unprovoked attack that continues to inflict heavy casualties on both sides. 

The present day conflict, and now official war, has very deep roots. Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) has been the Armenian’s native ancestral lands for thousands of years. There are hundreds of Christian Armenian churches and monasteries in the area dating back to the 4th century — more than 1700 years ago — when Armenia became the first nation accepting Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD. 

In World War I, Turkey started the Armenian Genocide (1915), killing more than 1.5 million Armenians. A fact that Turkey, and the USA, refuse to acknowledge to this day. When the Soviets entered Armenia in 1920, and through negotiations with Turkey, the Soviet leaders Lenin and Stalin passed the 95% Armenian populated province of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to Azerbaijan, a Turkey satellite state. 

The only claim Azerbaijan has to Nagorno-Karabakh is that Stalin stole it by redrawing the borders for them, against the desire of the Armenian majority population. When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1988, the mostly Armenian inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh voted for independence from Azerbaijan and for unification with Armenia, sparking a six-year war. 

Azerbaijan population: 10 million. Turkey population: more than 80 million. Armenia population: 3 million. Nagorno Karabakh population: 150,000.

Since the 1994 Russian-brokered ceasefire, Nagorno-Karabakh has been run as an independent state, known as The Republic of Artsakh, with the city of Stepanakert as its capital. It has an Armenian ethnic majority (94%), with strong support from the Republic of Armenia, but does not have international recognition leaving it in legal limbo. 

The most recent military operations against Nagorno Karabakh, launched on September 27, 2020, is different from all prior conflicts, in that Turkey is openly supporting Azerbaijan and promising to solve the Armenian problem once and for all. 

So, when the media uses phrases like “disputed territory” or “Armenian occupied”, ask yourselves: does it look like that it’s even remotely possible for this land to be home to Muslim-majority Azerbaijan?

To add perspective, Armenia is thousands of years old, with scientific and archeological evidence found on all ancient maps all over the world. Azerbaijan has only existed since 1918, therefore, you will not find it on any old map. Even Coca-Cola (invented in 1886) is older than Azerbaijan. 

In my opinion, the lack of action throughout the world, and the U.S. in particular, is related to the fact that the world is occupied with the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the U.S. is occupied with the upcoming elections. More importantly, the current U.S. silence is congruent with the historic stance of the US government on Armenian issues and its century-old refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, despite recurring election promises by all recent US Presidents. 

This is largely due to the fact that Armenia does not have any financial, strategic, or military leverage to offer in exchange for any political or international support. This is in sharp contrast to the oil-rich Azerbaijan and its true ally Turkey, who is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and is home to a large U.S. military base that offers strategic proximity to the Middle East and Europe. The US government does not certainly want to upset its NATO ally by acknowledging the Armenian Genocide or supporting Nagorno-Karabakh against the Turkik Azeri aggression. 

After learning about the injustices the Armenian community has faced, and will continue to face, please help us raise awareness and demand that both Turkey and Azerbaijan stop their aggressions towards Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

To take action, visit the Advocacy through the Armenian National Committee of America  (ANCA) website. It takes less than 2 minutes to sign a petition urging the US Congress and President to take actions, sanctioning Azerbaijan and Turkey and cut-off U.S military aid, and to call on the U.S Media to accurately cover these aggressions against Artsakh and Armenia.

If you want to support Armenian democracy, culture and infrastructure, please go to www.ArmeniaFund.org and consider donating. It takes less than 2 minutes, and you give as little as $5.