Members, alumni, and supporters of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) rallied outside the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington, DC to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Baku massacres, condemn Baku’s ongoing anti-Armenian aggression, and call for freedom and security for the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.
“Armenians in the Greater Washington Area – like our sisters and brothers across America and around the world – share a core commitment to championing Artsakh’s freedom and confronting Azerbaijan’s aggression,” said AYF “Ani” Chapter Chairwoman Sevan Simonian. “We were proud today to stand up for our community’s values – even against the hateful tirades of pro-Aliyev counter-protesters.”
A small group of staff and supporters of the Azerbaijani Embassy staged a counter-protest, repeatedly chanting the name “Ramil Safarov,” in an apparent attempt to intimidate those gathered for the AYF vigil. Safarov is the admitted and unapologetic axe-murder who killed Armenian Lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan during a NATO peace-training exercise in Hungary. In 2012, after serving only a fraction of his sentence in Hungary, Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan, where he was immediate pardoned, promoted and praised Safarov, a moved that was broadly condemned worldwide, including by President Obama.
Following the vigil, Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian of Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church led the DC community members in prayer in memory of the victims of the Baku, Sumgait, Kirovabad and Maragha massacres and all those who lost their lives during the Artsakh liberation movement.