SAN DIEGO – Members of San Diego’s Armenian community are planning a peaceful gathering on top of donating thousands of dollars and medical supplies to aid Armenia amid an ongoing violent conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan.
Hundreds are expected to attend a peaceful gathering starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Waterfront Park in front of the County Administration Center. It comes as fighting erupted Sept. 27 over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is located in Azerbaijan but remains under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia.
Although the two sides have had conflict for years, the situation escalated in July when the Azeri government threatened to blow up a nuclear power plant in Armenia.
More than 220 people have died and many others have wounded since the fighting began late last month, according to the BBC.
“It was unprovoked by the Armenians, unwanted by the Armenians and since then it’s escalated basically into a full-blown war,” said San Diego resident Beth Broussalian, who said the situation in her homeland “hits very close to home.”
“I know San Diego is way far away from Armenia, but for Armenians in San Diego, this is hitting right now in the heart,” she said.
Broussalian, who is a member of several committees at the St. John Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church in San Diego including the parish council, argues the world should take notice of the conflict.
“If it escalates and Russia gets involved and Iran gets involved and maybe Syria gets involved… it’s going to be almost, not only a third world war, but it’s also going to mean genocide again for the Armenians,” she said, referring to the 1914 genocide 1.5 million of Armenians committed by the Ottoman Empire.
Los Angeles and the cities of Glendale and Burbank are home to the nation’s largest population of Armenian immigrants. Last week, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who is of Armenian decent, introduced a resolution that was immediately passed by the City Council last week condemning the actions of the Azeri government.
“We demand that our government in Washington engage immediately and aggressively to bring an end to this violence, and to hold the Azeri and Turkish governments fully accountable for these crimes,” Krekorian said.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra weighed in on the conflict as well.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in the Armenian community as we work together to address what appear to be a series of violent attacks against them here in California,” Becerra said. “Crimes motivated by hate have a corrosive effect on our society and cannot be tolerated.”