Armenian-American community in Pasadena on edge as violence resumes in their country – Pasadena Now
As Russia continues to pound Ukrainian towns with artillery and missile strikes, the Armenian-American community in Pasadena has called on elected officials in Southern California not to overlook the upsurge of violence in Armenia in recent weeks.
Azerbaijani armed forces reportedly entered territories in disputed areas of eastern Armenia and launched drone strikes that killed three people and injured 15.
Azerbaijani forces also reportedly sabotaged a gas pipeline that serves most of the disputed region, leaving the entire civilian population of around 150,000 ethnic Armenians without heat amid freezing temperatures.
Former Pasadena Mayor William Paparian noted that much of the international community’s attention is currently focused on the plight of the civilian population in Ukraine, while the new “invasion” of their Armenian homeland by Azerbaijan went unnoticed.
“As the former mayor of Pasadena, I call to action for elected officials not only in Pasadena but throughout Southern California to stand up, be heard and speak out against the Azerbaijani military assault on the civilian population of Artsakh,” Paparian said. .
Paparian said the action against the gas pipeline in Artsakh was followed by an attack by Azerbaijani forces on the village of Parukh and drone strikes by Azerbaijan against the Armenian Self-Defense Forces. The village was captured and all its inhabitants were evacuated.
Alison Ghafari, president of Pasadena-based youth organization Gaidz, said Azerbaijan’s invasion of disputed territories is a “huge concern”, pointing to an Azeri “dictatorship” which she says continues to conduct a policy of ethnic cleansing against Armenians in the region.
“We are not surprised by this turn of events as it has become standard practice for the Azeri dictatorship,” Ghafari said. “The latest news shows that the Azeris have withdrawn from the villages they forcibly occupied last week. Yet the Azeris continue to harass peaceful villagers and are currently holding the pipeline, along with prisoners of war from the recent war, hostage as leverage over Armenia.
Ghafari said many Armenian-Americans are suspicious of Russia’s intentions at this time.
“As it stands, Russia is Azerbaijan’s main source of weapons, and a day before the war in Ukraine, Russia and Azerbaijan signed their “allied cooperation” agreement, reinforcing their allegiance to each other,” she continued.
The latest Russian-Azerbaijani agreement was signed in Moscow on February 22 as Russian tanks and infantry forces prepared to enter Ukraine.
According to news reports from Moscow, the Russian Foreign and Defense Ministries have called on Azerbaijan to withdraw its troops from disputed areas on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and allow Russian peacekeepers to continue monitoring events in the region, as they have been doing for about two years.
“The command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent is taking steps to resolve the situation,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. “An appeal has been sent to the Azerbaijani side to withdraw its troops.”
Russian peacekeepers have been in the region since a tripartite ceasefire agreement was signed in November 2020 by the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Two other related agreements have since been signed.