Author and activist Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, a survivor of anti-Armenian violence in Baku, educated and inspired a broad cross-section of Michigan Armenians about Azerbaijan’s ongoing threats against the security and freedom of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, during a June 15 presentation hosted by the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Michigan.
The event featuring Astvatsaturian Turcotte, an ANC of Maine activist and Baku pogroms survivor, was held at the Hagopian World of Rugs in Birmingham, Mich. The program was moderated by Dzovinar Hatsakorzian, who welcomed the audience and introduced the speaker for the evening. In her introduction, Astvatsaturian Turcotte spoke highly of the growing reach and influence of the ANC of Michigan, and invited attendees to bring their unique contributions to this vital collective effort on behalf of the local Armenian community.
Astvatsaturian Turcotte recounted her own story, detailed in her book, “Nowhere: A Story of Exile,” which tells of her childhood amidst the Azerbaijani-led pogroms against the Armenians living in Baku, Sumgait and Kirovabad. Pivoting from her own experience, to the urgent need for Armenians across Michigan and around the country to work together in support of Nagorno Karabakh, she underscored the importance of local, state, and national level advocacy for the recognition of the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR). Recognizing that Armenian families living in Nagorno Karabakh are facing many of the same types of threats of Azerbaijani violence she experienced as a child living in Baku, she explained that she has become a champion for the security and independence of the Republic.
“We were thrilled to have Anna share her story with the Michigan Armenian community. As a leader for Nagorno Karabakh recognition, Anna taught us a great deal and we look forward to working with her more now after she has further motivated our Hai Tahd activists,” said ANC-MI Chairman Hovig Kouyoumdjian.
As the leading force behind Maine’s adoption of legislation recognizing NKR, Astvatsaturian Turcotte reviewed her own efforts, and suggested possible pathways for similar efforts across the United States.
On April 10, 2013, Maine became the third state in the nation to adopt legislation acknowledging the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, following Rhode Island and Massachusetts in 2012. Louisiana also adopted similar legislation earlier this year, bringing the total to four states.
The evening ended with Astvatsaturian Turcotte fielding questions and engaging in a lengthy round-table discussion with the audience. She also signed copies of her book, prior to a reception that concluded the program for the evening.