LOS ANGELES - Thousands of Armenian Americans and supporters staged a rally in front of the White House all day Thursday. Many of those protesters are from Los Angeles. They are urging support for Armenia and its fight with Turkish-backed Azerbaijan over Artsakh. The crisis is half a world away, but it's very close to the hearts of hundreds of thousands of Armenians living in Southern California, which has the largest Armenia population outside of Armenia.
Protestors are calling for an immediate cease-fire. The U.S., France and Russia are stepping up efforts to make that happen.
One Los Angeles man who traveled to DC is Gabriyel Mamikonyan, who discussed why he traveled across the country to protest.
Mamikonyan says, "Essentially the goal that's been openly declared by the Turkish leader Erdogan is they are looking to finish what their ancestors began, meaning the 1915 Armenian genocide. And for us, that's something that we have to stand up against not only as Armenians but as human beings as people that want to live in a civil and humane society. We are standing up to not allow that. We want to make our voices heard."
A humanitarian crisis is taking place as war crimes are being committed and atrocities are taking place. The unrest between Azerbaijan and Armenia is over a region called Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh. Since the late Soviet era, the two countries have fought over the region, which is claimed and governed by Armenia. However, Azerbaijan considers the area part of its territory.
Mamikonyan says the Armenia community is in Washington to get the Secretary of State and Congress members' attention because the community does not want their tax money to fund terrorism, Erdogan, Azerbaijan, and those that wreak havoc on that region.
After quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., Mamikonan ends with, "'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' And that's something I think we have to live with, and hopefully, the message is clear. We're fighting against injustice and global acknowledgment by the United States and our President."