Posted on April. 30. 2023
By Sosy Bouroujian | The Armenian Weekly
Editor’s Note: The following remarks were delivered at an Armenian Genocide commemoration in Philadelphia on April 23, 2023.
Every year in April, we come together to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. We protest. We march. We participate in flag raising ceremonies.
Every year of our lives, we commemorate the Armenian Genocide to honor our ancestors. To honor those who gave everything, so we could live. So we could have the chance to laugh, sing and pray again.
We commemorate the Armenian Genocide to fight for truth. Truth in the name of justice.
Justice against perpetrators who refuse to pay for their crimes. Justice against perpetrators who, at this very moment, are aiding and abetting the equally barbaric Azerbaijani regime that is attempting to starve and freeze the people of Artsakh, continuing their quest to annihilate the Armenian people.
This year, and every year since September 2020, our commemorations of the Armenian Genocide have taken on a different meaning.
We continue to honor our ancestors who fought for the survival of the Armenian nation from 1915-1923. But since September 2020, we have witnessed numerous videos of Azeri soldiers proudly beheading civilians, torturing prisoners of war and desecrating Armenian cultural sites and churches.
Right before our eyes, after decades of chanting “1915 never again,” we’re witnessing the continuation of the Armenian Genocide.
It’s been 133 days since Azerbaijan began its inhumane blockade of Artsakh.
133 days that the 120,000 people of Artsakh have been without vital necessities. Food, medicine, electricity, education.
The people of Artsakh have been given an ultimatum: integrate or die.
But they refuse, because Azerbaijan’s actions fit into a timeline of continued aggression and persecution against the Armenian people. History has proven that integration is a myth spewed by the oppressive Aliyev regime as they aim to ethnically cleanse Armenians. Just as they flagrantly did during the pogroms in Baku, Sumgait, Kirovabad and the Maragha massacres.
Aliyev would like us to believe that the integration of Artsakh into Azerbaijan will usher in a new age of peace and prosperity. The truth is that Azerbaijan and its Turkish ally are not misunderstood neighbors to be appeased but rather genocidal killers to be resisted.
And we know that the morally repugnant Aliyev regime won’t stop with Artsakh. They are intent on wiping Artsakh and Armenia off the map. Over 6,600 acres of Armenian land in Syunik are under Azeri occupation. The enemy’s soldiers are in Jermuk and Sevan.
Their current actions culminate to further the goal of unrepentant genocide perpetrators.
But I have news for the butchers in Turkey and Azerbaijan. They failed in 1915, and they will fail again today. Their pan-Turkic dreams will never be realized.
We, the diaspora, the second army of the Armenian nation, have a responsibility to remain steadfast, side by side with our brothers and sisters in Artsakh and Armenia, in the fight for our nation’s survival.
We will continue our campaign for justice. In honor of the 1.5 million who gave their lives for a generation yet unborn. In honor of the brave 5,000 that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our sacred lands. In honor of the resilient 120,000 that have been under siege for 133 days, refusing to succumb to the enemy.
The odds have always been stacked against us. But our history is not one of cowardice, subjugation, or defeatism. It’s one of courage, freedom, and victory. Armenians have always prevailed in the defense of our homeland.
We will stand strong and true – shoulder to shoulder with Armenians across the world. As Yeghishe Charents said, Ով հայ ժողովուրդ, քո միակ փրկութիւնը քո միասնական ուժի մէջ է. “Oh, Armenian people, your only salvation lies in the power of your unity.”
In this spirit, I encourage each of you to use April 24th as a day of action.
Tomorrow, I ask that each of us call President Biden. Demand that he stop emboldening the genocidal dictatorship in Azerbaijan by immediately enforcing Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. He can spare us his statement on the Armenian Genocide of 1915 if he refuses to hold Azerbaijan accountable for their atrocities against Artsakh. His words are meaningless if he doesn’t act to stop the Artsakh Genocide.
Then, call your representative and urge them to co-sponsor H.Res.108. Insist that they send emergency humanitarian aid to the people of Artsakh and cut all military and security assistance to Azerbaijan. Tell them that we are sick of our tax dollars being used to torture and kill our brothers and sisters in Artsakh. Their inaction supports the continuation of genocide.
And then, call your Senators and ask them to stand on the right side of history by making a public statement condemning Azerbaijan for its crimes against humanity. Enough of the US allowing Azerbaijan to act with impunity.
We reject anything less than their unwavering support of Artsakh and Armenia. They work for us. Not the foreign governments in Ankara and Baku.
United in one cause, we will make a difference. No matter how many calls, emails and meetings it takes.
Artsakh and Armenia aren’t foreign countries 6,000 miles away. It is our home. You feel it deep in your core when you step foot on our sacred lands that so many gave their lives to defend. The blood shed by the heroes of our past may be washed away into our holy mountains, but their struggle lives on. In each of us.
When you speak with someone from Artsakh, you hear their stories of unmatched determination to pursue freedom, despite innumerable hardships. But their struggles are not theirs to face alone. It is the shared struggle of every Armenian across the world. Because without Artsakh, there is no Armenia. And without Armenia, there is no Diaspora.
When you go to the grocery store to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, when you’re at the pharmacy picking up a prescription, and when you’re safe in your home at night, without the fear of enemy shelling, ask yourself: did I do everything in my power today to defend Artsakh and Armenia? The fate of Artsakh and Armenia rests on our shoulders.
We must rededicate ourselves to the fight against those that would see us wiped from history. We will not rest until reparations are served. We will not stop until our homeland is whole again and we see a free, independent, and united Armenia. From Sasoun to Nakhichevan. From Javakhk to Shushi.
Մենք յաւերժ ենք մեր լեռների պէս: