PROVIDENCE, R.I.—On Wed., June 8, in the Fermanian Fellowship Hall at Sts. Vartanantz Church, the Providence ARF “Kristapor” Gomidehoutiun hosted a program on the current situation in Artsakh by Lernik Hovhannisyan, who is visiting from Artsakh, and provided the community with first-hand knowledge and updates.
A short video followed a number of quality questions from the audience, which nearly filled the room. Hovhannisyan is an MP in the NKR National Assembly (ARF faction), and the liaison for ARF Artsakh youth affairs. He recently attended the AYF Eastern Region Junior Seminar and presented a similar talk to our young AYF Juniors and Seniors over Memorial Day weekend. He is currently traveling around the Eastern Region to provide updates on Artsakh to the Armenian Diaspora of America.
During the day, Hovhannisyan was escorted around the community by Providence ARF Chairman Hagop Donoyan. They visited all three Armenian churches, the Martyrs Monument at North Burial Grounds where he said a prayer, the Armenian Heritage Park in the Smith Hill section of Providence, and the Rhode Island State House.
Hovhannisyan was shown pictures of the State House dome boasting the tricolor, which was also proudly displayed in the State Senate and House of Representatives, as it is every April 24. He was also made aware that the Armenian flag flies at every city and town hall in our state on that solemn date. He was pleased to hear all of this, and said he was well aware of the nationalism that this community has always displayed.
He spoke with the assistance of Taline Mkrtschjan, who served as his interpreter, about how Artsakh has been preparing for an attack since 1994 by strengthening its position, knowing that there are no allies the people can count on but themselves.
“The Azeris have been in an aggressive stance since 2014 and we were ready for them, with a well-trained army, volunteers, and intelligence to hold back whatever was coming at us,” he said.
The enemy attacked from the northeast and the south with the goal of reaching Aghdam and the capital of Stepanakert.
The Azeris had assistance from Russia and Turkey as well as from Israel, which supplied them with drones. They were prepared with 30 helicopters, but when 2 were shot down immediately by the Artsakh Defense Forces, they were no longer part of the landscape of the sky.
The Azeris were going up against a group of fighters, some as young as 18 years old, who took the place of their fathers when Artsakh fought and won her independence over 20 years ago.
Volunteers came from Armenia, Abkhazia, Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere—and they came in large numbers. Hovhannisyan noted that in times of peace, people leave; when it’s war, they return.
He also emphasized that the fighters from Artsakh were not going to accept defeat as an option. The Azeris were trying to strengthen their position prior to the Minsk Group talks with the superpowers—the United States, France, and Russia—in attendance. The Armenian side was upset that the Minsk Group did not condemn the aggressor and blamed both sides equally for the conflict.
The people of Artsakh feel that until they are recognized as an official state, any deals struck are not acceptable.
The Azeris’ goal is to invade Artsakh and they are using some of the same brutal methods the Ottoman Turks did more than 100 years ago. They are relentless in their efforts, and women and children are not exempt from their attempts to destroy our people.
Hovhannisyan stressed the importance of supporting Artsakh with all of the resources and measures we have available. He said that Artsakh is ready for the next assault and was grateful to be able to share his message with the Providence community.
Following his presentation, Hovhannisyan continued to share his first-hand accounts with members of the Providence ARF Gomidehoutiun. Hovhannisyan welcomed additional questions from the members while building camaraderie over dinner.
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West