Mothers gather to raise awareness of crisis in Armenia

A group of local Armenian-American mothers who are deeply concerned about the children and people in Artsakh braved the heat and gathered for a third round of demonstrations in front of the American Red Cross office in Los Angeles on Thursday. 

As this humanitarian crisis continues --- a disturbing recent report mentioned that the number of miscarriages has increased in the region.

"Open the road of life—open the road of life," they chanted.

"We are here to support the 120,000 Armenians that are being starved as we speak in Artsakh – they’re being starved by Azerbaijan for no other reason than ethnic cleansing – and we are here to pledge and ask and demand from Red Cross to deliver humanitarian aid to Artsakh."

The next protest is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. in front of Glendale City Hall.

Right now, 360 tons of humanitarian aid is sitting still in Armenia—unable to be delivered to Artsakh because Azerbaijan continues to block the only road which connects Armenia to Artsakh. 

The Lachin Corridor has been blocked for seven months and counting. As supplies run out, 120,000 people living in Artsakh are on the brink of starvation. In fact, no food, medicine, or humanitarian supplies have entered the region in more than a month. The International Committee of the Red Cross was previously allowed to make limited deliveries through the Lachin Corridor – but now access is being denied. Concerns are growing – as are calls to action.

After reading an article by Amnesty International about the illegal blockade by Azerbaijan, musician and activist Serj Tankian, came up with the idea to draft an open letter alongside other well-known artists and actors to bring awareness to how serious the situation is.

"We can't put pressure on such a dictatorial regime. So, it's important for our democratic nations to put pressure on them, especially utilizing sanctions as we've used against Russia. And that's important to do," Tankian said. "There has to be a price to pay for creating this kind of humanitarian disaster, for trying to do ethnic cleansing, for trying to do a genocide. There's got to be a price to pay. And you know, we have to try to impose sanctions on Azerbaijan to get that to get that message out."

While a number of international human rights organizations and members of Congress have repeatedly called for the road to be reopened, many argue the State Department and the Biden Administration haven’t done enough.

Azerbaijan is calling Armenia’s attempt to send humanitarian aid into the region a "provocation"-- while trucks loaded with rations of baby food, cooking oil, flour, pasta, powdered milk, salt, sugar and essential medicines— are sitting at the border. Azerbaijani has proposed that humanitarian aid can be routed to Artsakh through the Azerbaijani town of Aghdam. European Union’s foreign policy chief says this should not be seen as an alternative to the reopening of the Lachin Corridor.

Tankian also says Russia peacekeepers are not doing their job of keeping the Lachin Corridor open, which was part of the trilateral agreement between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia following the 2020 war. Tankian says it is unacceptable that people are on the brink of starvation-- there's humanitarian aid at the border, but the government of Azerbaijan is restricting access.

Click here to read Tankian’s full interview with Spin magazine.