A girl grips her little sister’s hand as they begin to run away. Suddenly, the older sister gets jerked to the side. She realizes she’s in a pile of clothes. A woman has hidden her. The little sister is nowhere to be found and was never seen again.
One of my best friends and fellow Cal Poly Pomona student told me this story about her great grandmother’s experience during the Armenian Genocide.
While I may not be Armenian, I have become passionate in recent weeks to defend and support my close Armenian friends who have become like family to me. With their help, I hope to convince you of the power that you wield to help stop innocent civilians from being killed and spread awareness on this crisis.
With the backing of Turkey, Azerbaijan has executed military strikes on the area of Artsakh. Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, is an independent and partially recognized territory made up of ethnic Armenians that broke from Azerbaijan after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Azerbaijan has received assistance in the form of military aid from Turkey. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United States has provided more than $1.5 billion, funded by taxpayers, in assistance to Azerbaijan since 1992.
As American citizens, we are essentially paying for the annihilation of a race.
In the Armenian Genocide, millions of Armenians were systematically murdered and exterminated by the Ottoman Empire, modern-day Turkey, yet the perpetrator continues — to this day — to deny what they did.
Politico called attention to the current President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has referenced increasing power and taking back land throughout the Caucus, which is really just a thinly-veiled threat of persecuting and potentially committing genocide against Armenians once again.
One translation of a recent speech of Erdoğan’s has gone so far as to report him saying that Turkey will “continue to fulfill this mission, which our grandfathers have carried out for centuries, in the Caucasian again.”
People around the world are standing by as the presidents of both Turkey and Azerbaijan are attempting to finish a genocide. I’m sure you are just as curious as I am as to why they feel the need to commit such an atrocity.
First, we must understand: Turkey is powerful. Turkey has a lot of unfair influence on other countries because of its participation in NATO. Armenia is in a position where it only has 3 million people and is surrounded by Turkey and its allies’ combined 92 million people. Lots of other powerful countries are afraid to get on their “bad side” and make Turkey an enemy.
Secondly, Turkey wants to extend its power and influence across the entire region, creating a pan-Turkic state. This is one of the main reasons that Turkey and Azerbaijan have murdered innocent Armenian civilians.
Turkey has also paid mercenaries from Syria to fight on behalf of Azerbaijan to take control of Artsakh, not caring who gets killed. This advances Turkey’s goal of creating a pan-Turkic state and their attempt to obliterate Armenia and its people. Armenians across the world, including many who have fled out of fear for their lives, believe this to be the continuation of the Armenian Genocide.
This follows turmoil from earlier in the summer, when, on July 12, the Azerbaijani military attacked the Armenian military on their shared border, bombed civilian targets such as schools and threatened to attack an Armenian nuclear power plant, according to Newsweek.
Thirdly, we must understand that Azerbaijan has had a history of violently attempting coups of the area, and ceasefires have been attempted. Yet, Azerbaijan has all but rejected any compromise. As of Oct. 5, Artsakh officials said the Armenian military death toll has risen to 223 and 19 civilians have been killed.
According to The Armenian Weekly, on Sept. 27, Azerbaijan launched a full attack on Artsakh and even attacked locations in Armenia proper with the aid of the Turkish Air Force. Azerbaijan frequently targets civilians like those in the capital of Artsakh, according to BBC.
This violence is one-sided, though. While Armenia and Artsakh have made numerous attempts to limit the loss of life and damages, Turkey and Azerbaijan have given no thought to the consequences of their actions, killing so many innocent civilians and destroying lives.
Lastly, people across the world are too consumed with the coronavirus pandemic and looking out for their own safety to open their eyes to a modern-day genocide. While it is important to promote the usage of masks, the truth is that all the deaths in Artsakh could have been and still can be prevented if people would speak up.
News coverage on the crisis here in the United States throughout the last few months has been essentially non-existent. U.S. officials have not spoken out or offered help to Armenia and Artsakh, nor has any other country around the world.
My friends and their families have been doing their best to spread awareness on social media, but it cannot leave a big enough dent in the minds of the American people without the help of major news organizations.
The United States is home to the second largest diaspora of Armenians. Over 1.5 million people of Armenian descent live here, and it is what so much of Armenian culture considers home post-genocide. So, why is there still next-to-nothing being done in what they consider to be their “home away from home”?
According the Armenian National Institute, only 30 out of the 195 countries in the world recognize that the Armenian Genocide even happened. This statement breaks my heart and opens my eyes to see how truly broken our world has become.
This war that is bubbling up between these countries could lead to regional or even worldwide conflict. With COVID-19, a crumbling economy and civil unrest, Armenia simply cannot handle another major crisis or a potential war with Azerbaijan and its allies.
Out of fear and ignorance, the world turned a blind eye to the first genocide of the 20th century. We cannot let that happen again.
The Armenian National Committee of America and others have shared ways to contact your government representatives and call for the denouncing of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s crimes.
For more resources, see ANCA.org.
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