Philadelphia, PA – Armenian Americans around the Delaware Valley gathered yesterday on the Philadelphia Art Museum steps to help raise awareness and bring peace to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The afternoon featured protestors waving flags, posters, and giving speeches. The event concluded with the group temporarily blocking traffic on Eakins Oval in front of the museum.
The tiny region in the South Caucasus has been the site of hundreds of military and civilian deaths, significant property destruction, and inflamed tensions since violence broke out between the two countries in late September, intensifying a decades-long conflict.
Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region took another turn on Sunday. The two countries accusing each other of violating the latest cease-fire just minutes after it took effect.
The protesters have called out a lack of coverage and attention around what they see as an existential threat to their homeland and families. Many local Armenian Americans are descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, which resulted in the deaths of as many as 1.5 million Armenians starting in 1915 at the Ottoman Empire’s hands. To them, news of Turkey’s backing of Azerbaijan and conquest’s rhetoric brings back traumatic memories.
Local families also have relatives close to the front lines; some Armenians have even traveled to Armenia to join the effort or provide medical and other support.