Silence has never been louder -
Silence has never been louder
"Turkey is guilty!” “Sanction Azerbaijan!” “Keep your hands off our lands!” In the last few months, if you have attended any protest organized by the Armenian Diaspora, these statements have been drilled into our minds as we shouted them at the top of our lungs. Weekend after weekend, at embassies, global peace offices like the United Nations and public parks, Armenians all over the world have been demanding justice be served to the Armenians of Artsakh. If you did in fact attend those protests, you know firsthand that the louder we screamed, the louder we echoed in a world of silence.
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Amidst a worsening global pandemic, it has been challenging to plan fundraisers, protests and even educational forums to better educate others about the more than 100,000 displaced Armenians currently fleeing Artsakh. As always, we continue to prevail, and creativity has been beaming through the diaspora in unique ways. Local churches, like St. Vartan’s of New York City and St. Sarkis of Queens, are organizing drop-offs for clothing and medical supplies. The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) New York “Erebouni” Chapter offered an online baking course via Zoom with Sonia Tchilingarian (a member of the Armenian Unity Project) to raise money for soldiers and their families. Armenian community members are taking advantage of their large social media followings, like Samuel Armen (Instagram: @Amadeus.Darnoqian), a high school teacher from Brooklyn, going live for hours at a time on a weekly basis to spread awareness and raise money; he has raised over $25,000 in just a few sessions.
The AYF Manhattan “Moush” Chapter continued this momentum by organizing a silent protest at the famously populated Washington Square Park this past Saturday. Washington Square Park, located on the lower east side of Manhattan, adjacent to New York University, is a hot spot for students, artists and activists. On Saturday afternoon, without chanting or screaming, AYF members along with many other NY/NJ community members came to showcase our message to the world: the United States must recognize Artsakh’s independence and sanction Azerbaijan and Turkey for the cultural genocide being perpetuated against indigenous Armenians.
Our non-verbal communication in the form of posters, flags and banners all spoke louder than we ever could. Passersby would pause to take a photo, capture a video and even engage by asking, “What is this for?” “What is happening in Armenia?” That dialogue was incredibly important. We did not expect this level of interaction, but it was clear that many non-Armenians are aware of Artsakh and its recent war with Azerbaijan. However, they do not know of the war crimes committed by Azerbaijan. They do not know that ancient monasteries are being swept from under us. They do not know that Armenians are being tortured and used as entertainment by Azeri soldiers. They do not know the centuries of pain that Armenians carry, but we can educate them. We can teach the truth to friends of our community, and we can show them what being Armenian truly means.
As I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with my fellow diaspora members in protest, I was ignited with a sense of confidence. I am confident that we will see the light, confident that we will one day see a free, united and independent Armenia, and confident that our youth have never been more ready or more equipped to take on the challenge of fighting for the justice of our homeland. The time is now. We cannot give up. Resilience flows deep within our bloodlines. Keep donating. Keep protesting. Keep showing up!
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