Armenian-American protesters at GOP debate site in Simi Valley demand support for Artsakh

Leanne Suter Image
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Armenian protesters in Simi Valley seek support for Artsakh
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Seven Republican candidates are slated to appear Wednesday night at the Reagan library in Simi Valley.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- More than 200 protesters gathered at the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley one night before the GOP candidates debate to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Artsakh.

Seven Republican candidates are slated to appear Wednesday night at the library.

Hundreds of Armenian-Americans protested at the library Tuesday to call attention to the situation in Artsakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, where some 120,000 people - most of them ethnic Armenians - have been trapped by a blockade put in place by Azerbaijan.

Why renewed fighting in Artsakh region may herald new war with Armenia

Azerbaijan's launch of reportedly intense artillery firing in the Nagorno-Karabakh region raised fears that another full-scale conflict with Armenia could be underway.

"The reason my family is in the United States is because of the (Armenian) genocide in 1915," said Chris Mazmanian of Porter Ranch.

"Seeing the pictures in black and white of long lines of people fleeing their homeland then, next to the long lines of people fleeing Artsakh now really puts things in perspective that nothing has changed and we are still at risk of extermination."

Protesters say it's a cruel twist that the same administration that acknowledged the Armenian genocide that killed more than 1 million people in 1915 now remains silent on the current deadly violence.

Azerbaijan bombed the area last week and for months has maintained a massive blockade shutting down the only road to the area and cutting off all supplies. Thousands of people have been fleeing the area in recent days.

Protesters are demanding the United States and the United Nations enforce sanctions against Azerbaijan before more lives are lost.