Hundreds of local Armenian Americans packed Centennial Plaza in front of Pasadena City Hall Thursday evening to protest the recent attacks by Azerbaijan and Turkey on the Artsakh region of Armenia.
The event was organized by a group of Pasadena-area clergy and community organizations that have coalesced to decry the recent violence by staging four days of activism.
Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh, straddles Armenia and Azerbaijan and has been governed as a de facto independent republic controlled by ethnic Armenians since 1991.
The disputed area exploded with violence in the latest outbreak of fighting on Sept. 27.
“We are very upset, because not only are we dealing with war and our countrymen are dying in the hundreds, but we are also dealing with the extreme indignation of a media blackout here in the United States,” said one of the rally organizers, former City Council candidate Boghos Patatian.
Thursday’s crowd, estimated by police to be as many as 600 but described by attendees as in the thousands, heard speeches before moving the short distance westward to the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Old Pasadena’s Memorial Park.
The gathering at City Hall was also attended by a number of local leaders and elected officials, including State Senator Anthony Portantino, PUSD Board Members Roy Boulghourjian and Scott Phelps, and PUSD Board President Patrick Cahalan, along with Mayor Terry Tornek and Councilmember Victor Gordo.
Tornek told the crowd, “We are here in solidarity with you tonight,” and said “the City of Pasadena stands with its Armenian-American community in these difficult times, and mourns for the innocent victims of military aggression.”
Councilmember Victor Gordo emphasized his own immigrant roots, and said, “I know what it’s like to live in the United States and have family elsewhere that you worry about.”
“These are 150,000 people in the historic area of Armenia wanting to live in peace,” said State Senator Anthony Portantino, “And I am proud to stand on the steps of the City Hall in Pasadena to yell as loud as I can, and condemn these actions, and call for the U.S. Government to call the Minsk Group together, to call French peacekeepers, and Russian interests, and come together to make a lasting peace.”
Following the presentation and speeches at City Hall, the group walked south on Garfield to Colorado Boulevard where they proceeded west on Colorado Boulevard, eventually ending up at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Memorial Park, where they heard prayers from Armenian faith leaders.
The newly-formed Pasadena for Artsakh group is planning a series of events through Saturday to bring light to the issue.
The organization is also planning a fundraising dinner at 7 p.m. Friday at the Hovhannes and Hripsime Jivalagian Youth Center, 2242 E. Foothill Blvd.
A town hall meeting on the conflict will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Hovhannes and Hripsime Jivalagian Youth Center, according to Pasadena for Artsakh.
Finally, a car wash and breakfast-to-go event will take place Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., also at the Hovhannes and Hripsime Jivalagian Youth Center.
For more information, Patatian and the Pasadena for Artsakh Leadership Council can be reached at (626) 818-9004.
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