Armenian activists rally in front of Getty House in protest over Karabakh blockade

Protesters say a blockade in Armenia is causing shortages of food, medicine and fuel and creating a humanitarian crisis.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Armenian activists bring semitruck to Getty House during protest
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Dozens of Armenian American protesters gathered at the Getty House Tuesday night in hopes of bringing awareness to the ongoing blockade that is cutting off a vital road linking Armenia to the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Dozens of Armenian American protesters gathered at the Getty House Tuesday night in hopes of bringing awareness to the ongoing blockade that is cutting off a vital road linking Armenia to the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The group brought along a semitruck with a large sign that read: "Airlift now!" in front of the home in Windsor Square, which is the official residence of the mayor of Los Angeles.

AIR7 HD was above the protest and captured the protesters lighting up their cell phones and pointing them toward the sky.

Protesters said the blockade is causing shortages of food, medicine and fuel and creating a humanitarian crisis that needs international intervention.

Last week, hundreds of opposition supporters rallied in the Armenian capital, urging the government to act to unblock the road after weeks of rising tension.

Protesters urged the administration in Yerevan to "take appropriate measures" to secure the re-opening of the so-called Lachin corridor, the only supply route to ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been blocked by crowds from neighboring Azerbaijan since Dec. 12.

Azeri authorities said on Tuesday that the protests would be suspended if monitors were given access to what Azerbaijan calls illegal mining sites in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan since a separatist war there ended in 1994. That conflict left not only Nagorno-Karabakh itself but large chunks of surrounding lands in Armenian hands.

In 44 days of heavy fighting that began in September 2020, the Azerbaijani military routed Armenian forces and moved deep into Nagorno-Karabakh, forcing Armenia to accept a Russia-brokered peace deal that took effect in November that year.

The agreement saw the return to Azerbaijan of a significant part of Nagorno-Karabakh and also required Armenia to hand over swaths of land it held outside the separatist region.

The Lachin province, which lies between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, was the last of the three areas on the rim of Nagorno-Karabakh to be surrendered by Armenian forces in December 2020.

Russia deployed nearly 2,000 peacekeepers for at least five years to ensure safe transit across the region, monitor the peace deal and help the return of refugees.

The Armenian demonstrators called on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's government to "not shift all responsibility" for resolving the situation on to the Russian force, which has been engaged in a standoff with the Azerbaijani crowds for over two weeks, coming under heavy criticism in Yerevan for its allegedly inadequate response.

"It is clear that the Lachin corridor is a zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers, and they must fulfill their functions. But this does not mean that Armenian authorities should sit idly by," Ishkhan Saghatelyan, an Armenian MP from the socialist-nationalist Dashnaktsutyun party, told Russia's Interfax agency.

Pashinyan reaffirmed Yerevan's official position in a statement on Tuesday, saying that according to recent agreements between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, the supply route should remain under the control of Russian peacekeepers, with Baku guaranteeing unimpeded transport along it. Prior to that, Nikol Pashinyan repeatedly accused Moscow's peacekeeping force of failing to uphold its responsibilities, something the Kremlin has denied.

Vale Gasparyan, one of the leaders of Armenia's pro-Western National Democratic Pole cross-party bloc, said in a live video broadcast on social media Wednesday that a blockade should be imposed on a Russian military base in northern Armenia unless the Lachin corridor is reopened.

Ethnic Armenian leaders in the separatist territory allege that the blockade has been orchestrated by the Azerbaijani government. Baku denies this, saying the protests in the Lachin region are "genuine" and "justified."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.