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Los Angeles officials gather in solidarity with the Armenian community

A group of elected officials gathered at Los Angeles City Hall Monday to denounce the deadly conflict between Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan and ask the Trump administration to diplomatically intervene in the newly reignited clash over a tiny disputed border region between the two countries of the south. Caucasus.

Representatives from Los Angeles, Sacramento and Washington blame Azerbaijan and neighboring Turkey, which supports the country, for inciting the violence that began on September 27 in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, defined by the Armenians as the Republic of Artsakh. The area is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but its population of around 1

50,000 is an ethnic Armenian majority. Azerbaijani leaders claim they only responded to raids from the other side.

“As Armenians, we care very much about this part of the world, and we care very much about the massacre of the Armenian people,” said Los Angeles City Councilor Paul Krekorian on the steps of the town hall. With the conflict starting in week two, there are fears that the infighting could spark an all-out war, with the potential to attract superpowers like Russia and Turkey.

The large Armenian community of Los Angeles has responded strongly to the conflict that has spanned more than 7,000 miles. Monday’s rally in downtown Los Angeles comes on the heels of more than a week of demonstrations across the county aimed at raising awareness of the confrontation.

On Saturday and Sunday nights, protesters gathered in front of the CNN building in Hollywood to demand more accurate news coverage of events overseas. Over the weekend, activists also blocked traffic on sections of highways 101 and 170. A march to the Turkish consulate is scheduled for Sunday, according to Alex Galitsky, communications director for the Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, speaking to Zoom, said he understood the local protest.

“I hear you, I see you. More importantly, we hear you and see you, ”Garcetti said, adding that L.A.’s status as a“ global crossroads ”ideally positions it to facilitate international dialogue and ultimately to invoke peace.

Several officials, including State Assembly member Adrin Nazarian, have identified the violence in the breakaway region as a continuation of the 1915 Armenian genocide.

“And so, if we really mean what we say by saying, ‘Never again’, now is the time to act,” said Nazarian, representing the 46th district. “This is the time for the federal government to step forward.”

Laurence Broers, a scholar of the conflict, said Azerbaijan instigated this attack. However, he said the country still sees it as a defensive war – to reclaim the land lost nearly three decades ago in what is known as the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Nasimi Aghayev, consul general of Azerbaijan in the western United States, said around 800,000 Azerbaijanis were forced to flee their homes as a result of that war, calling it “pure ethnic cleansing”. Azerbaijani officials see the disputed territory – as well as seven adjacent districts – as Azerbaijani land, he said.

Aghayev indicates that the Armenian forces have started the recent fighting and accused Armenia of working in concert with Russia. Armenia and Russia have a military pact and Russia has a base on Armenian soil.

But there are no indications that Russia has chosen a side in the conflict, Broers said.

US Representative Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said on the phone last week that the relationship between Armenia and Russia is about him and that it adds impetus for the US to intervene diplomatically.

Schiff, who was present at City Hall on Monday, tabled a resolution with Representative Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) calling on Azerbaijan to stop fighting and agree to install ceasefire monitoring equipment along the so-called line. of contacts in the disputed region between it and Armenia. He would also tell Turkey to stay out of the conflict.

Now it’s up to the federal government to take action, Nazarian said. Although state leaders have taken steps – including the recognition of Artsakh as an independent republic – there is a limit to their control over the country’s foreign policy, he said.

“The reality is that whatever we do below the federal level is symbolic.”

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