More than 100 people gathered outside the Azerbaijani consulate in Los Angeles on Saturday demanding an end to attacks by Azerbaijani troops in a disputed border area with Armenia and Artsakh, where an estimated 200 people were killed in the past week.
The demonstration coincided with a surprise weekend visit to Armenia by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and two Armenian-American members of Congress, and the introduction of a resolution in Congress by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) who demanded a ban on US aid to Azerbaijan.
The US embassy said the visit will include a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, according to the The Bharat Express News.
Like many others who waved Armenian flags at the event organized by the Armenian Youth Federation, Tenny Alahverdian, 20, said she thought of relatives “suffering on the front lines”.
“We hope that the United States takes a hard line 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 an effort that spanned decades of advocacy and activism by Armenians around the world. Much of that movement is centered in Los Angeles County, home to America’s largest Armenian diaspora community.
The movement was launched in the 1980s, when children of survivors of the Armenian Genocide from 1915 to 1918 settled in the US. 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 attempt to get Biden officially recognized the genocide.
Bitter memories of the massacre 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 disputes that what happened was genocide.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan blame each other for the recent bloody clashes.
But protesters outside the Wilshire Boulevard consulate on Saturday say the fighting started in 2020 when Azerbaijan, with Turkey’s help, launched a war to remove Armenians from the disputed border region of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as the Republic of Artsakh.
News of Pelosi’s visit to Armenia, coupled with Schiff’s proposed resolution, prompted Raffi Haig Hamparian, chairman of America’s Armenian National Committee, to urge Congress to “stop sending US tax dollars to Azerbaijani President Ilham.” Aliyev.”
“A cessation of US aid to Azerbaijan,” he said, “would also pose a meaningful challenge to our State Department’s deeply flawed policy of responding to any act of Azerbaijani aggression with general appeals to all parties to abstain. of 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 the responsibility rests entirely with … Armenia.”
Alahverdian, the participant in the Los Angeles protest, said: “The situation doesn’t look good anyway. It is difficult to be a member of the diaspora.”