Raising Voices for Artsakh’s Crisis

Artsakh Blockade 2023

Raising Voices for Artsakh’s Crisis

It has been eight months. Since December 2022, Artsakh has been under blockade. Azerbaijan is restricting the flow of movement through the only road connecting Artsakh to the rest of the world, the Lachin corridor, depriving 120,000 people of food, humanitarian aid, medical care, and other necessary supplies.

While we began our academic year at AUA, students coming from Artsakh were apprehended by Azerbaijani forces. The continuous flow of information and news on the humanitarian crisis has left no time to process. We fail to recognize how fortunate we are to attend university without the fear of being kidnapped on our way there.

Artsakh Blockade Consequences

The uncertainty of the situation affects not only the Armenians of Artsakh but also Armenians worldwide. However, we, the Armenian youth, can unite and take action. This can be achieved by raising awareness on social media through sharing official news and relevant information or tagging international news organizations and public figures under those posts. Another approach is to participate in peaceful demonstrations organized in our communities. AUA students should take these steps to voice their concerns about the humanitarian crisis and highlight its effects.

Iness Arzumanyan, a PG junior who came from Artsakh to pursue her studies at AUA, shares the hardships of having family members and friends under the blockade. “Right now my mother needs to have surgery done in Yerevan and we are waiting in line for the Red Cross to transport patients to Yerevan,” she explains. Likewise, many citizens have to endure the consequences of not having immediate medical care and putting their health at risk. This is not only due to the medical shortage but also the fuel shortage, which prevents citizens from moving even within their borders.

With the absence of basic human needs, people desire to flee to survive. Gregory Akopyan, PG junior, recounts the story of his cousin being among the fortunate ones who were able to leave and study in Yerevan, but unfortunately, he cannot return to his homeland. “This is psychological terrorism, to intimidate people and make them want to leave,” Gregory explains.

Artsakh Blockade Impacts

The consequences of the blockade are impacting numerous Armenians beyond the borders of Artsakh. Nanor Bchtikian, EC senior, highlights the psychological and emotional harm that accompanies the blockade. “While the armed conflict has ended, it is important to emphasize the humanitarian crisis and violations,” she says. “The constant uneasiness of uncertainty, the frequent tragic events concerning human lives, and most importantly, the fear of anticipating another war at any moment.”

This fear and uncertainty regarding the future of Artsakh triggers emotional responses. Gregory, although not directly affected, expresses, “It frustrates me. Frustrated with Azerbaijan. Frustrated with the global community for their lack of action. It frustrates me with the Armenian government.”

These emotions leave us feeling powerless and pessimistic. We find ourselves questioning what actions we, as the youth, can take. Gregory suggests that the first step is to reach out to friends or family in Artsakh and provide moral support.

Iness adds, “I believe that one way we can make a positive contribution at this moment is by raising awareness in the streets of Yerevan, in addition to online platforms,” she says. “I believe that doing so has the potential to influence the Armenian population, the Armenian government, and the international community.” She explains that if people took to the streets in protests that conveyed a clear message, the people in Artsakh would feel less isolated.

In addition to being there for the people of Artsakh and participating in protests, Nanor elaborates, “Collaborating with NGOs to expedite the issue and strive for a successful outcome is crucial.” This includes taking part in campaigns, petitions, and social activism, as well as engaging in direct discussions with policymakers. It is also vital to stay informed about the latest events and raise awareness.

Armenians in the Diaspora

Many Armenians in the diaspora feel powerless as they are geographically distant from Armenia or Artsakh because, as Gregory puts it, “It’s like a part of your body or leg that is deteriorating, and you want to seek medical help, but you are unable to do anything.”

We share the pain, but we strive to find solutions to alleviate it, even in the absence of medical assistance. Nonetheless, Armenians worldwide can contribute to youth activism. Gregory suggests that “regardless of one’s citizenship, people need to contact their elected representatives and parliamentarians to share the story and take a firm stance.”

During challenges and unpredictability, the Armenian youth, both domestically and internationally, are resolute in standing united, vocalizing their concerns, and taking significant measures to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Artsakh, demonstrating the fortitude and solidarity of a cohesive community.

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