Expressing disappointment, sadness and anger, members of Glendale’s Armenian community gathered downtown Monday after news of an accord in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with the local demonstration eventually shutting down part of Central Avenue. The effusive mood typically shown by Glendale members of the Armenian diaspora at events outside the Armenian Consulate was replaced by somberness as the crowd processed information that had begun trickling out hours earlier. The throng had learned that the peace agreement signed by Armenia largely ceded land in the Nagorno-Karabakh region to Azerbaijan that the latter’s army had retaken in the six-week war. The agreement, brokered by Russia, is largely seen as a victory for Azerbaijan, which aimed to reassert control of the region — home of Armenian-populated Artsakh — that has mostly functioned autonomously since 1994.
The city will continue exploring specifically how to revitalize the arts and entertainment district along Artsakh Avenue that includes Glendale-owned storefronts, and will likely identify locally based “destination” businesses to populate the pedestrian-friendly pathway. In the meantime, economic development officials will put together a plan to bring in pop-up businesses to either take up a storefront for up to six months or set up an outdoor venue in which to operate. The experiences and successes of these short-term pop-ups would inform the city’s long-range decisions on the area once additions and updates to the plan for the avenue are completed as soon as 2022. All that is the upshot of a special City Council meeting on Tuesday, when the panel engaged the services of consultants to help guide Artsakh’s evolution.
When hundreds gathered outside of the Armenian Consulate last week — an event that largely turned the corner of Lexington Drive and Central Avenue into a sea of red, blue and orange — it was not to showcase aggression or hostility. Rather, those who gathered in solidarity with Armenia and the Artsakh Republic sang, cheered and danced in the closed-off block, to a backdrop of motorists — many of whom had decked their vehicles with flags — enthusiastically honking in support. And, as officials for local Armenian organizations shouted to the crowd last Saturday, they did so out of love for their homeland, not hatred for Azerbaijani soldiers ordered to fire upon Armenian targets throughout July. “We are here to tell our brothers and sisters in the homeland that the diaspora stands with them,” yelled Gev Iskajyan, a member of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region’s board of directors. “We are here to exemplify the love that we have for peace, the love that we have for freedom and the love that we have for our people in the homeland. That love will never cater to hatred.” The Armenian and Azerbaijani militaries traded artillery rounds and drone strikes starting on July 12, when Armenian troops said their adversary’s units began aiming at civilian targets along the nations’ borders. The escalation again violates a ceasefire agreement in 1994 that followed the Nagorno Karabakh war; a more substantial incursion occurred in 2016.
The Armenian Youth Federation, through its western U.S. office in Glendale, will host a rally for unity today amid an escalation of military hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The rally will take place outside the Armenian Consulate on Central Avenue at 5 p.m. And on Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 5:30 p.m., the local organization GlendaleOUT will host a gathering of solidarity for the Armenian community outside City Hall on Broadway. In observance of the pandemic, both events will require participants to wear face coverings and adhere to social distancing. Similar demonstrations have occurred in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the U.S. since clashes between Armenia and Azerbajian were renewed on July 12. In the wake of the Soviet Union’s breakup, the two nations engaged in the 1994 Nagorno-Karabakh War as part of their broader ethnic conflict over territory largely occupied by Armenians but apportioned to Azerbaijan by the Soviets in their state’s early days. The AYF plans to “celebrate our Armenian culture, heritage and strength” at today’s rally at 346 N. Central Ave. The organization “is calling on our community to stand with us as we showcase our unity and strength and celebrate our culture and heritage in the face of Azerbaijani aggression against our homeland and Armenians around the world,” it wrote in its fliers. This event follows a similar march, organized last week, where there were a variety of speakers and a number of signs left at the consulate. The Glendale chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America condemned the military clashes in a statement, and the House Armenian Caucus — which is co-chaired by Congressman Adam Schiff, a Burbank Democrat who also represents Glendale — called upon the Trump administration to take action to reel in Azerbaijan’s aggression.
For information about the youth federation, visit ayfwest.org.