Los Angeles, CA – On Friday, May 9, 2014, a diverse crowd of officials, community leaders, and community members filled the Los Angeles City Council Chambers to mark the celebration of the 22nd Anniversary of Liberation of Shushi, Artsakh. The event, organized by Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Krekorian, Office of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic, Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia in LA, and the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA WR) also celebrated the defense army formation of NKR, victory in WW2, and the recent passage of AJR 32 in the California State Assembly, which supports Artsakh’s (NKR) continuing efforts to develop as a free and independent nation, and formally calls upon the President and Congress of the United States to support the self-determination and democratic independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
“We were proud to join LA Councilmember Paul Krekorian, Office of NKR Republic and the Consul General of Armenia in Los Angeles in hosting this celebratory event for our community and look forward to building on past victories and our recent accomplishments in the US legislature to ensure that our people of Artsakh obtain the democratic independence they deserve,” stated ANCA WR Executive Director Elen Asatryan.
LA Councilmember Paul Krekorian opened the program by welcoming the community to Los Angeles City Hall and noted, “I am proud that Los Angeles City Council took the important step of recognizing the independence of Artsakh and establishing a friendship city relationship with Shushi in 2012. It was an honor to participate in the official inauguration of the Los Angeles Friendship Park in Shushi during my visit last year. The people of Shushi have shown tenacity and perseverance in the face of tremendous hardships. We must continue to help the people of Shushi rebuild and restore their city.”
ANCA WR Boardmember Arpie Jivalagian, who served as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening, acknowledged dignitaries present and stated “Self-Determination is the ability of a group to decide its own fate. This is a principle on which our own country, the great United States of America, was founded. This is the same principle the people of Artsakh believe in, Freedom.”
“During the American Revolution, our soldiers at Valley Forge kept fighting, never giving up until their last breath. Their tenacity and ANCA WR Board Member Arpie Jivalagian determination for freedom kept them going until they prevailed. Shushi is our Valley Forge,” she continued.
Writer and activist Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte shared her family’s personal story and discussed how as a young girl, her aspirations and dreams were swept away and destroyed as the majority Muslim-Azeri population used terror to drive the minority Christian Armenians out of Baku.
Prior to showing excerpts from her documentary Wounds of Karabakh, filmmaker and producer Tsvetana Paskaleva relived her time in Artsakh as it was being bombed by Azerbaijan in 1991.
The program concluded with remarks from Consul General of Armenia to LA Sergey Sarkisov and Permanent Representative of NKR to the United States Robert Avetisyan, during which he also took the opportunity to thank the entire team at the ANCA WR for mobilizing the community to ensure passage of AJR 32, and further acknowledged the efforts of the ACA, Assemblymembers Mike Gatto, Katcho Achadjian, Adrin Nazarian, and Speaker John Perez. The evening ended with a reception outside of the Chambers.
“Liberation of Shushi had a tremendous influence on the liberation war and proved that the resilient Armenian spirit of self-determination and independence can only lead to miraculous achievements and unbelievable victories. For Armenians, it reinforced the ideal that together we are invincible. Invincible in our pursuit for freedom and dignity, in our determination to continue seeing Artsakh as a strengthening and sovereign democracy,” stated Permanent Representative of NKR to the United States, Robert Avetisyan.
”My congratulations go out to our community on this day of victory and peace. I am happy that we have yet another victory to celebrate in the long list of celebrations in the month of May; California State Assembly’s recognition of Artsakh’s independence, which was a result of tireless efforts by the Armenian community and Armenian institutions. I am hopeful that in the near the future those efforts will also result in similar recognitions by other institutions and governments,” noted Sergey Sarkisov, Consul General of Armenia to Los Angeles.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
Photo: The ANCA WR with Robert Avetisyan and Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte.