LA Police warned of potential surge in hate crimes against Armenians

Asbarez – Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, citing troubling incidents during a protest in Los Angeles and the vandalizing of the KZV Armenian School in San Francisco, expressed his concern to Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore of a potential surge in hate crimes against Armenians.

In a letter to Moore on Wednesday Krekorian (CD-2) requested that the LAPD command staff meet with him and representatives of the Armenian community “to discuss steps that can be taken to ensure the safety of the community during these times of heightened tension.”

Krikorian explained to Moore that recent acts of aggression by Azerbaijan against the people of Armenia have outraged many throughout the world, prompting demonstration to demanding an end to hostiliets.

“Regrettably,” Krekorian told Moore “in several cities there have been counter-protests by Azeri nationalists, and instances of racism, hate crimes and violence directed at Armenians and Armenian institutions.”

“In Philadelphia, an Armenian woman and her 5-year old son were attacked.  In Moscow, “a spate of violent incidents apparently began when groups of Azerbaijanis beat up Armenians in Moscow early on July 24 and later attacked Armenian-owned stores. Here in Los Angeles last week, a peaceful protest in front of the Azerbaijani Consulate was disrupted by violence that was condemned by the Consulate General of Armenia, which believed “it is evident that the obstruction of the peaceful protest of the Armenian community was planned in advance and had an orchestrated nature,” Krekorian said.

“Most troubling, last week, an Armenian school in San Francisco was vandalized with racist graffiti that is being investigated as a hate crime,” Krekorian told Moore. “For members of the Los Angeles Armenian community, that incident was reminiscent of the attacks of intimidation targeted Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian School in Encino and AGBU Manoogian-Demirjian School in Canoga Park last year.”

“I am deeply concerned, as are many members of the Armenian community of Los Angeles, that international tensions could incite further violence and hate crimes directed at Armenians and Armenian institutions, especially schools and churches,” said Krekorian before proposing the meeting.

Days after Azerbaijani forces brazenly launched an attack against civilian and military targets in Armenia’s Tavush Province on July 12, Krekorian issued a statement calling on the U.S. government to unequivocally condemn Azerbaijan’s aggression and use its diplomatic efforts to resume talks that will ensure “the territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Artsakh.”

Below is the complete text of the statement.

Yet again, Azerbaijan’s military forces have launched a deadly unprovoked attack across its border into neighboring Armenia. And yet again, Azerbaijan’s recklessness puts regional stability and United States interests at risk.

Just weeks after being warned by the United States about conducting large scale military exercises near the border of Armenia, on Sunday Azerbaijan launched actual artillery and tank attacks on rural Armenian villages and border security outposts. During a time when the UN has called for ceasefire around the world due to the COVID pandemic, Azerbaijan instead violated its own ceasefire agreement with Armenia and shelled civilian as well as military targets, including homes and a village kindergarten.

The corrupt Azeri regime’s outrageous warmongering and racist hatred of Armenians seems to know no limits. This week’s attack is just the latest in a consistent record of Azeri barbarity directed at Armenians who just want to go about their lives in peace. The Azeris targeted Armenian civilians with mass murder in the pogroms of 1988 and 1990; they targeted Armenian civilians with indiscriminate shelling during Artsakh’s war of independence; they celebrated as a hero the Azeri soldier who beheaded an Armenian with an axe during a NATO “Partnership for Peace” program in 2004; they targeted Armenian civilian villages and committed shocking war crimes during their full-scale invasion of Artsakh in 2016; and now they are engaging in the same kinds of ruthless violence and abomination yet again.

If that were not enough, the corrupt and bellicose Azerbaijan government is threatening to launch a missile attack on a nuclear power plant, releasing massive amounts of radiation only 20 miles from Yerevan. The spokesperson for the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry today bragged about their capability of hitting the power plant, which would, as he put it, “lead to a great disaster for Armenia.”

This outrageous pattern of aggression is entirely unjustified and in violation of international norms and human decency. The United States, France and Russia, as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, have attempted for years to mediate a sustainable negotiated peace, but those efforts have utterly failed. Azerbaijan has consistently violated the ceasefire with scores of attacks across the border, resulting in both civilian and military deaths in both Armenia and Artsakh. The United States nonetheless still refuses to state clearly that there is only one perpetrator that continues to be responsible for the violence, bloodshed and instability in the region, and that is Azerbaijan. Any statement of moral equivalence in the face of continued massive violence and aggression by the government of Azerbaijan is entirely unacceptable. Our government has an obligation to hold Baku accountable for Azerbaijan’s destruction of the peace process and its ongoing crimes and threats against the Armenian people in Artsakh and in the Republic of Armenia.

Unless Azerbaijan immediately faces strong and meaningful consequences over its most recent escalation of the conflict, there is little chance of achieving lasting peace. The interests of the United States will be harmed by instability in this vital region, and our reputation in the international community will be irreparably damaged by our failure to stand up and speak out on behalf of the victims of this inexcusable and continuing record of Azeri aggression and violence.

I therefore call upon the United States government to condemn Azerbaijan unequivocally for its latest violation of the ceasefire, and to demand an immediate and permanent cessation of all Azeri hostile action. I further call upon the Trump Administration and the United States Congress to take immediate action to cease all military support and cooperation with Azerbaijan, including suspending all arms shipments to Azerbaijan. Finally, I call upon the United States Department of State to utilize all diplomatic, economic and political means to compel Azerbaijan to engage meaningfully in the peace process, through the Minsk Group or otherwise, to achieve a sustainable, lasting peace that ensures the territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Artsakh.

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