Community holds silent protest to demand release of Armenian POWs

Dozens of people gathered outside the Consulate General of Azerbaijan on Wilshire Blvd. Thursday to protest against the countless Armenian prisoners of war being held by Azerbaijani forces. 

For many Armenian-Americans who attended the silent protest, their message was clear… release all Armenian POWs. 

Similar protests where held throughout the world including Toronto, Paris, Rome, Houston, Sacramento, Montréal, New York, Warsaw, and many other cities.  

Video posted online by The US Armenians shows several protesters outside the UN office in Geneva and at the UN office in Yerevan, Armenia’s capitol. 

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Several Armenian POWs are currently being held captive by Azerbaijan following a war in the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). 

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended in early November but over hundred POWs have still not returned to Armenia, and it has left many families in fear. 

During a hearing for the House Armed Services Committee, California Rep. Jackie Speier urged the Department of Defense that the US get involved and put pressure on Azerbaijan to release all POWs. 

"I think we are sending a terrible message to Armenia and because we did not engage in terms of getting the parties to the Minsk Group table for negations, Russia stepped in and now has another foothold in that region,"  Speier said during the hearing. 

"Violence & instability are not in U.S. interests. We cannot reward Azerbaijan for its all-out assault & enable further violence against the Armenian people," she wrote online

According to Speier, over 5,000 people died during the recent war, over a thousand were displaced from their homes and 200 POWs are still being held captive by Azerbaijan. 

Today’s global protest occurred just about a week before the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. On April 24th thousands of Armenians in California and around the world will commemorate the 106th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. 

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