LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — More than 3,000 demonstrators marched in Glendale Monday night to protest what they call Azerbaijan’s aggression against Armenia, police said.
“We are trying to educate people because the mainstream media is not covering any of this,” Kristine Harutyunyan, a demonstrator from Glendale, said.
She said the ongoing demonstrations around the Los Angeles area were appealing to those who might not know about the struggle in her homeland that has seen hundreds injured and dozens killed since fighting erupted one week ago.
The two nations are currently fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, a disputed land that is controlled by ethnic Armenians but lies within the border of Azerbaijan.
Both Armenian and Azeri sides have claimed to suffer serious losses from the ongoing conflict.
“Everyday Armenia attacks major cities of Azerbaijan killing and injuring innocent civilians. It’s a war crime,” Consul General Nasimi Aghayev said. “Just yesterday, Armenia sent missiles into our second largest city using even cluster bombs. Armenia must stop this aggression.”
But Armenian demonstrators questioned the narrative coming out of the Azerbaijani consulate.
“We only have 3 million accounted for in Armenia,” Harout Aloyan, a demonstration organizer, said. “How can a population of 3 million attack a population of over 8-10 million?”
And while the Trump administration has yet to take a side on the issue, Los Angeles city leaders stood united on the steps of city hall to condemn Azerbaijan.
“We demand that our government in Washington engage immediately and aggressively to bring an end to this violence, and to hold the Azeri and Turkish governments fully accountable for these crimes,” Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian said.
In a tweet, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he was proud to stand with Krekorian to condemn the violence.
“We must do everything we can to raise our voices for a swift end to this conflict,” he wrote.
Proud to stand alongside Councilmember @PaulKrekorian and L.A.'s local, state and federal leaders to condemn the violence visited on the communities of Artsakh.
We must do everything we can to raise our voices for a swift end to this conflict.
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) October 5, 2020
Krekorian, who is of Armenian descent and said his children were “christened” in that country, last week introduced a resolution condemning the actions of the Azeri government. The resolution was quickly passed by the council.
Also at the Monday news conference were Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in the Armenian community as we work together to address what appear to be a series of violent attacks against them here in California,” Becerra said. “Crimes motivated by hate have a corrosive effect on our society and cannot be tolerated.”‘
And while Becerra focused on an increase in violence directed at Armenians in California, both Schiff and Hahn called for an end to the violence in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh.
“We have a strong, bipartisan message for (President of Turkey Recep Tayyip) Erdogan: You are a member of NATO, start acting like one,” Schiff said.
“I join leaders across Los Angeles County in calling on the Trump Administration to conduct the peaceful diplomacy necessary to bring an end to these attacks and save lives,” Hahn said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been engaged in conflicts for years, but tensions escalated in July when the Azeri government threatened to destroy a nuclear power plant in Armenia — prompting protests outside the Azerbaijan consulate in Brentwood.
More recently, protesters have gathered outside of the consulate and blocked area freeways over what demonstrators call Azerbaijan’s aggression against Armenia and Artsakh.
“This isn’t just a simple war,” Amatia Golbodhehi, a Tujunga resident, said. “This is a fight for survival.”
Los Angeles and the cities of Glendale and Burbank are home to the nation’s largest population of Armenian immigrants.
Another demonstration is planned for 3 p.m. Sunday outside the Turkish Consulate General at 8500 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)