Armenians in California took their aggression towards Azerbaijan to a new disturbing level on the streets of Los Angeles this week. Not content to protest peacefully, the Armenians shouted slurs and instigated violence.
Meet the Dashnak
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) also known as Dashnaktsutyun, in short Dashnak, is a radical Armenian nationalist and socialist political party, founded in 1890 by Christapor Mikaelian, Stepan Zorian and Simon Zavarian, in Tiflis, Russian Empire, now known as Tbilisi, Georgia.
Today the party operates in Armenia, in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region, illegally occupied by Armenia and what the Armenians named Artsakh and in countries where the Armenian diaspora is present, including in Los Angeles, California, USA.
The party nowadays is a minor party, and as of December 2018 it was represented in two national parliaments with 7 seats in the National Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh AKA Artsakh and three seats in the Lebanon Parliament.
In 1918, the party was instrumental in the creation of the First Republic of Armenia, which fell into the hands of the Soviet communists in 1920 and its leadership was exiled. The ARF, with an expansionism drive, established itself within Armenian diaspora communities and is considered to be the Armenian diaspora’s foremost organization.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is an ARF-affiliate organization, the strongest Armenian lobby organization in the United States.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict full-scale war took place in 1992-till-1994 during which Armenia, aided by the Russian Army captured the Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts. They have held this land ever since. The fragile ceasefire between the two countries is often breached.
On July 12, Armenia’s armed forces, using heavy artillery, attempted to attack, in order to seize positions in the direction of Tovuz district, along the state border between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Armenia-Azerbaijan Strife Comes to Los Angeles Streets
On July 21, 2020, thousands of hotheaded Californian-Armenians Dashnak affiliated groups, led by the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region (ANCAWR) and the Armenian Youth Federation came to protest in front of Azerbaijan Consulate General offices, in West Los Angeles. Their gripe, Armenia’s own aggression committed against Azerbaijan’s north-western border on July 12, 2020.
A small group of approximately 50 members of the Azerbaijani expat community arrived at the location to counter-protest in support of Azerbaijan. They came to show their dismay over Armenian’s ongoing occupation of Azerbaijan’s lands as well as its recent military hostilities.
Although the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was present to provide a safe protest environment, the local Dashnaks behaved as an extension of the violent mob currently busy destroying US cities.
Right from the outset, the Dashnaks yelled insults at the Azerbaijan supporters. That was followed by stones and frozen water bottles, aiming at the small and peaceful Azerbaijan supporting group.
Progressively, the protest turned chaotic. Numerous vehicles, driven by Armenians, looped around the Azerbaijan consulate building block, honking, yelling insults and hurling objects.
Young American women, of Armenian descent, probably never been to Armenia, drove by yelling from the car windows assorted profanity and slurs. That behavior reminded me of the American-Arabs and their cohorts who often protest in USA city squares about the non-existing “Palestine” and calls to boycott and destroy the state of Israel.
In no time the atmosphere’s temperature elevated and several hundred violent Armenians broke through the police scrimmage line and charged toward the Azerbaijani protesters. The Armenians attacked the Azerbaijan supporters while the Los Angeles police officers were trying to escort them out to safety. The scuffles that ensued ended up with 9 Azerbaijanis injured, including one a young woman, and 5 Azerbaijanis required hospitalization treatment.
On July 16, 2020, the Azerbaijan Minister of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement: “The only cause of tension in the region is Armenia, which holds Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions of Azerbaijan under military occupation, violates the fundamental rights and freedoms of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis and directly impedes the settlement of the conflict through negotiations.”
Video: Armenians attack peaceful Azerbaijani protesters in Los Angeles
The mainstream media has been less than accurate with its coverage of the protest. One Armenian man, who assaulted a police officer and a young Azerbaijani women protester is being investigated for a hate crime.
Many of the Azerbaijani community members have been receiving death threats from Armenian radicals and have reported them to the LAPD and FBI for investigation.
Once again, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) – also described as ‘a particularly noxious lobby that claims to represent Armenian Americans, many of whom live in California‘ showed the Dashnak ideology’s radical and aggressive face. That is the same ideology that once wholeheartedly embraced Hitler’s policies and the hate of Jews.
ANCA, with ties to Washington bureaucrats, as the lobbyist arm of the Dashnak radical and expansionist group must be carefully monitored.
Azerbaijan is not alone. Strong public condemnation came from leaders of the Jewish community. The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) and the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Los Angeles Office condemned this violence. As Durdane Agayeva, a survivor of the Khojaly Massacre wrote: “Thank you for your solidarity and friendship in these difficult days.”
The day of the violent protest I called Mr. Nasimi Aghayev, Azerbaijan Consul General in Los Angeles to find out if he and his staff are safe. Mr. Aghayev was rather shaken. He told me that this was the first time as Azerbaijan’s envoy as well as in history, in general, that Azerbaijani-Americans and nationals have been subjected to this kind of hatred and violence on U.S. soil. “We should make sure it is also the last,” he said.
I visited Azerbaijan. I have met with internally displaced Azerbaijanis yearning to return to their homes in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. I have been to the line of contact with Armenia and felt the tension there. I have met with many Azerbaijanis, all who hope that Armenia will come to its senses and relinquish its illegal occupation of Azerbaijan’s land.
Hopefully, mounting international pressure on Armenia will bring about an end to any military escalation on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Also a peaceful resolution to the conflict and a new page in life in the Caucasus.