AYF Holds Washington DC Protest Commemorating Anti-Armenian Pogroms in Sumgait and Baku

– Armenian Youth Lead Call for Justice in the Wake of the Artsakh Genocide

WASHINGTON, DC—The Armenian Youth Federation – Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (AYF-YOARF) Washington DC “Ani” Chapter organized a protest in front of the Azerbaijani embassy this Sunday afternoon on February 25th, 2024, in commemoration of those who were killed during the anti-Armenian pogroms of 1988 and calling for justice in the wake of the Artsakh genocide of 2023.

In late February, nearly 40 years ago, the Armenian population of Azerbaijan faced a brutal and merciless massacre organized and committed by ordinary Azeri citizens. In Sumgait, mobs of Azeris gathered to attack helpless Armenian families, while in Baku, dozens to hundreds were killed, raped, and brutally injured by similar mobs. Every year since these ambushes, Armenians around the world commemorate those we lost during the pogroms.

Although decades have passed since the annihilation of Armenians from Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, and Maragha, Armenian Americans and supporters demonstrated that they have not forgotten this miscarriage of justice, spending a cold Sunday afternoon passionately chanting their pleas to “stop threats of war” and “recognize the Artsakh Genocide.”

AYF DC “Ani” Chapter member Hovsep Seferian, who, last year,  had shared his family’s story of survival from Azerbaijan’s murderous attacks in Baku, roused the crowd with his speech condemning Azerbaijan’s genocidal ethnic cleansing of Artsakh Armenians, and warned of further aggression against Armenia.  “Aliyev has made his intent to take Syunik very clear and has gone so far as to claim Yerevan as historic Azerbaijani territory. Make no mistake, that’s where he’s going next,” stated Seferian. He urged Armenian Americans to “answer the call of our homeland in what will become its darkest hours if we don’t act.”  He emphasized the need to pass the “Armenian Protection Act of 2024 and the 502B legislation in the House and Senate [to] cut American aid from Azerbaijan and keep American taxpayer dollars out of the hands of dictators like Aliyev and Erdogan.”

AYF DC “Ani” Chapter member Sune Hamparian, describing the 1988 Sumgait massacres, noted, “These pogroms should not and cannot be confused with the spontaneous acts of an angry crowd. Like the genocide of 1915 – they were premeditated.” Spotlighting the existential threat on the Amenian Homeland, Hamparian explains, “Having emptied Western Armenia, then Nakhichevan, and now Artsakh – they’ve turned their sights on Syunik. Their goal: An Armenia emptied of Armenians. Their weapon: Terror and violence.”

Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian followed, urging Congressional action to sanction Azerbaijan, send assistance to survivors of the Artsakh Genocide, and ensure their dignified and safe return to Artsakh. “If you all show up, if you all turn out, we can get our Congressional delegations on board,” stated Hamparian.

AYF DC “Ani” Vice Chair Matt Girardi then closed the gathering with brief remarks reminding Armenians that “[while] some see our struggle as a burden, I see it as a sign of life– because we have much to fight for!” Then adding, “Artsakh will return to us, Nakhichevan will return to us, and we will leave future generations of Armenians with peace, prosperity, and security in a free, united, and independent Armenia.”

The AYF urges all readers to take action on the ANCA website to support the passage of the Armenian Protection Act, impose sanctions on Azerbaijan by passing 502B legislation, and divest funds from Turkey and Azerbaijan.

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