For many, Friday, Jan. 1, represented a long-overdue turn of the page from a year that lived up to no one’s expectations. From the beginning of 2020, news trickled into American airwaves and newsprint that a mysterious virus had secretly wreaked havoc throughout much of China and had begun spreading at uncontrolled levels through South Korea, Iran, Italy and Spain. Reports of overwhelmed hospitals, mass graves and widespread lockdowns also spread. And then the accounts started coming out of New York City. And Seattle. And a well-known pork processing plant in South Dakota. By March 11, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was declared to be a global pandemic. Locally, by March 13 — auspicious, indeed, as a Friday the 13th — school districts were closing, cities were declaring states of emergency and officials were openly discussing what would become the Safer at Home orders. Restaurants were limited to takeout or delivery. Personal care services, entertainment venues and bars closed. Nonessential retailers had to close. The NBA suspended its season.
The Burbank City Council voted this week to condemn Azerbaijani aggression in the mostly Armenian region of Artsakh, a disputed area over which Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have clashed. Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, includes the Hadrut province, with which Burbank declared a friendship in 2014. Reported violence by Azerbaijani forces in Artsakh has been the focus of widespread protests and rallies recently, with the Armenian flag becoming a not-uncommon sight in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The panel’s unanimous vote also directed city staff members to send a letter of support from the council for a potential U.S. House of Representatives resolution, House Resolution 1165, that would condemn Azerbaijan’s military’s actions in Artsakh. The resolution’s authors include Reps. Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman, who represent Burbank.
Local officials this week, bolstered by overwhelming public support, joined the cacophony of the world’s Armenian diaspora in excoriating Azerbaijan and Turkey for their amplified military action in the Republic of Artsakh. The City Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution harshly condemning the violence, and the Glendale Unified School District also issued a statement of solidarity with the diaspora and offering support for students with direct ties to Armenia and Artsakh. After some skirmishes between the Azerbaijani military and Armenian-bolstered defense units in Artsakh in July, the former began directing heavy artillery fire into the breakaway republic last weekend, reportedly including civilian targets.
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.