Hundreds filled the street in front of Burbank City Hall Tuesday evening in protest against The Republic of Azerbaijan and their military actions on The Republic of Artsakh, and The Republic of Armenia in the midst of a pandemic. This protest occurred just days after clashes between Artsakh-Armenian forces and Azerbaijan escalated, killing nearly 100 people, including 11 civilians. Protesters are calling for those responsible for war crimes to be held accountable; for the U.S. to withhold military aid to Azerbaijan and Turkey; and for a ceasefire in the region.
Fighting between Artsakh and Azerbaijan sparked again in July after Azerbaijani military vehicles were destroyed while attempting to cross into Artsakh from a remote location. Clashing over the Nagorno-Karabakh region intensified, even more, Sunday morning with multiple drone strikes, shelling, and gunfire by both sides. Artsakh’s Capitol City of Stepanakert was hit by an Azerbaijani drone strike resulting in 2 civilian fatalities. A civilian bus in the Armenian town of Vardenis was also struck by an Azerbaijani drone strike.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region conflict is one of the oldest conflicts in history. Historically the region has been populated and governed by Armenians. In 1918, the region was claimed by both countries after they both became independent following the fall of the Russian Empire. In 1921, Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union took control of the region and transferred it into Soviet Azerbaijani control. In 1991 following the fall of the Soviet Union, a referendum with over 99% voter approval resulted in a declaration of independence. Clashing over the region led to the start of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1991 which ended in 1994 with a ceasefire.
Many American politicians have spoken out about Azerbaijan’s actions including Congressman Josh Gottheimer who tweeted ” I condemn Azerbaijan’s reckless military attacks in the region. Azerbaijan should be held accountable for its aggressive actions which undermine peace. As Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the U.S. must take the lead in forging a ceasefire and preventing conflict before this dangerous situation escalates any further.”
Congressman Frank Pallone also spoke out publicly in a tweet calling on The United States Department of State to get involved saying ” I condemn the belligerent display of Azeri and Turkish aggression in Artsakh. I strongly encourage @DeptState to help deescalate this dangerous situation and hold the aggressors – Azerbaijan and Turkey – accountable for their destabilization.”
The Russian government has expressed its support of Armenia and Artsakh, while Azerbaijan is being supported by Turkey. The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting Tuesday night due to fear of other nations like Turkey and Russia getting involved.