This weekend, Armenian demonstrators in Los Angeles gained a lot of attention by closing down the 170 freeway and Sunset Boulevard. Although it was noticed by many, a majority of people may not understand why we are holding such large demonstrations. In short, the Armenian community is trying to gain media coverage of a conflict taking place in our homeland. On September 27 of this year, Azerbaijan, the country East of Armenia, decided to attack the border of Armenia and an area known as Artsakh (or Nagorno-Karabakh). Artsakh is a region that is within the borders of Azerbaijan but almost completely populated by Armenians. This is because of two reasons: Firstly, Armenians have been living in that area for about 3000 years. Secondly, when Joseph Stalin created the country of Azerbaijan in the 1920s, he included Artsakh within its borders. Therefore, when the Soviet Union began to crumble in the late 1980s Artsakh wanted independence from Azerbaijan which led to a six year war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It was a decisive victory on the Armenian side which allowed for Artsakh to function independently even though it is still within Azerbaijani borders. Azerbaijan’s motive for their recent attacks is to expand their borders.
The conflict that is occurring presently has spiraled into an all out war. Azerbaijan is sending in drones, tanks, helicopters, and artillery provided by Turkey, Russia, Israel and the United States. Armenia is supporting Artsakh and defending its own border with weapons and artillery from Russia and much more recently, tanks from Iran. These international relationships that both countries have make the conflict all the more worrisome as it can pull in many countries and start a major regional war. Armenians around the world are now concerned with the fact that whatever is left of our home country is facing the threat of being erased completely. Despite the fact that Armenians are outnumbered and outgunned, they have the upper hand in the conflict.
A major factor that is helping Armenia succeed in this war is the support from the Armenian diaspora. Diaspora can be defined as a population of a group of people that have more individuals living outside of that country than the inside. As an example, Armenia only has 3 million people within its borders, but about 7 million outside of its borders. Therefore, the few Armenian individuals here at NVMI, both students and faculty, would be considered part of the diaspora. We do whatever we can to send materials, money, and food to the soldiers on the forefront. More importantly, we aim to keep the morale of our soldiers high to defend our homeland.
As an Armenian, here within the United States, I cannot fight at the borders, but I can support by sharing this information with all of you. I call on everyone at NVMI to check on your Armenian friends, give them emotional support, and spread correct information about the Armenian-Azerbaijani War of 2020. If anyone has any questions in regards to the politics, history, or the condition of Armenia, please reach out to me. I am more than happy to share about my culture and my identity.
Source: We Are Our Mountains monument. Stepanakert/Xankəndi, Nagorno-Karabakh. Photo by Marcin Konsek