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.
It all started with the recollection of a quote. When Dr. Armand Dorian, chief medical officer at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale, saw news reports in September that war involving his ancestral home of Armenia had resumed, he was drawn back to a famous statement by cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” Dorian said in an interview, reciting Mead’s words. His recall of the remark prompted him to get on the phone, and a few calls later, Dorian said, he knew what he had to do. Armenia’s ministry of health reported that chief among the nation’s needs was a CT scanner, largely for use in surgeries on people with shrapnel wounds as a result of the fighting between Armenian forces in the breakaway state Artsakh against Azerbaijani forces aiming to reassert control of the region. So he got to work.
The city joined other American municipalities this week in formally recognizing the Republic of Artsakh’s independence, a symbolic move meant to bolster awareness of the breakaway nation’s effort to separate from Azerbaijan, which has resulted in military hostilities. The move comes as federal officials — including Congressman Adam Schiff, who represents Glendale — have called for American recognition of Artsakh, a predominantly Armenian-populated region considered part of Azerbaijan by all other nations. In the years since Artsakh voted by referendum to declare independence in 1991, it has attained recognition only from other unrecognized nations and, more recently, 10 American states, including California.
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.
Artsakh Avenue was filled to the brim last Saturday night — a boisterous gathering that included countless flags waving about, repeated choruses of Armenian mantras and a man dragging around a Turkish flag tied to his ankle. And yet when Vaché Thomassian — a well-known member of the many Armenian advocacy organizations in the Glendale area — roared into the microphone that night, his simultaneously angry and hopeful words hushed the rapt audience. Hundreds had marched from the Armenian Consulate to Artsakh Avenue in support of the Artsakh republic, which with assistance from Armenia has fought to repel an Azerbaijani military onslaught since Sept. 27.
When local members of the Armenian diaspora woke up on Thursday and began to scour the internet and social media for on-the-ground updates — any news, really — from the front lines of the reignited war between Azerbaijan and the Armenia-backed breakaway state Artsakh, they found pictures of the Holy Savior Cathedral. Continue reading “Glendale Armenians “Inspired by Other People’s Sacrifices””