LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Protesters in support of Armenia in its continuing conflict with Azerbaijan temporarily blocked both sides of the 170 Freeway in North Hollywood on Sunday evening.
The demonstrators draped themselves with Armenian flags and occupied freeway lanes, prompting traffic to come to a standstill.
An unlawful assembly was declared and officials were working to reopen the roadways, with traffic flowing southbound as of 6:17 p.m. It took about an hour to get both sides of the freeway moving again.
This is the second day of consecutive protests in L.A. County organized by Armenian human rights groups.
On Saturday, protesters gathered on the 101 Freeway to draw attention to support Armenia in its conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, and last week, there were demonstrations held outside the Azerbaijan Consulate.
Tensions between the countries have recently re-ignited and led to widespread protests and calls for peace.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region is controlled by ethnic Armenians but rests in Azerbaijani territory. Azerbaijan has long expressed its intent to take control of the territory.
Both sides have accused the other of attacking civilians during the clash, which is possibly the most violent since Armenia and Azerbaijan’s 1994 ceasefire.
Dozens of people also attended another protest in Glendale in support of Armenia to speak out against what they call a “second genocide” at the hands of Azerbaijan.
The Los Angeles metropolitan area has the largest population of Armenians in the world outside of Armenia.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Sunday that he stands with the people of Armenia.
“L.A. is proud to be home to the largest Armenian diaspora. We stand with the people of Armenia. I urge our leaders in Washington to conduct the sustained and rigorous diplomacy necessary to bring peace to the Artsakh region. Turkey must disengage,” Garcetti tweeted.
The Turkish Consul General in Los Angeles, Can Oğuz, shared this letter from the official Turkish Consulate Los Angeles account in response to the mayor:
“Our records clearly show that Los Angeles is also home to a significant Turkish American community, which the elected administrators of this city apparently choose to overlook.
Hardworking Turkish Americans are an asset to this city, to California and to the United States. It is time that local administrators of this city remember that they also represent the rights and need to take into account sensitivities and safety of the Turkish Americans of Los Angeles.
They should also take pride in serving this honorable community.
Furthermore, rather than misinforming the public by spreading unsubstantiated and manipulated reports about Turkey’s relations with Azerbaijan, the leaders of this city would be acting more responsibly and would be in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, if they also called for an immediate and unconditional end to the illegal occupation of %20 of the Azerbaijani territories since 30 years now. This continued illegal occupation despite several UN resolutions is the main source of instability in the region.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)