SAN FRANCISCO—Residents from Azerbaijan gathered at Embarcadero Plaza Saturday, October 24, in response to the conflict with Armenia that has been happening in their country.
As previously reported by the San Francisco News, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in an ongoing conflict since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The two independent nations started disputes over Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory that is mostly of ethnic-Armenian and that is recognized by the United Nations as part of Azerbaijan.
The event that took place on Saturday in Embarcadero District was related to this conflict. It started with a moment of silence for victims from the dispute and speeches, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. There were a couple of hundreds of attendees. Twitter user “daily_karabakh” shared pictures and videos of the gathering in which it could be seen that people were playing music and waving flags from Azerbaijan, including a 23-meter flag. Twitter user Gunel Rafig said in a tweet that the purpose of the demonstration was to demand justice for Azerbaijanis, and to spread their perspective on the conflict. The event lasted two hours.
According to Trend News Agency, the protest was also held in response to attacks that Azerbaijani officials claim happened recently. The General Prosecutors of Azerbaijan released statements on October 24 saying that in the morning of that day, Armenian armed forces attacked the village of Kabirli in Terter, killing a resident who was identified as Ismailzadee Orhan Rahbur Oglu. The statement said that the Armenian forces were violating the humanitarian ceasefire and that they continued to attack Azerbaijani civilians.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has been campaigning in support of the Armenian community. The organization said that they have supported negotiations while Azerbaijan has not respected the peace process throughout the years. ANCA stated that on October 10, Azerbaijan violated a humanitarian ceasefire hours after it had been agreed upon.
Due to the conflict, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh has been repeatedly bombarded. The Agence-France Presse reported that both sides have accused each other of killing civilians. According to Politico, Armenia said that on September 27, Azerbaijan launched air and artillery attacks on the disputed territory. As a response, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said in a statement that the first fire was opened by Armenia and that it was a counter attack.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in the United States have shared their concerns over the conflict and over events that they say are attacks to them. Similar to the protest on Embarcadero, on October 10 the Armenian community in San Francisco protested on the situation of Nagorno-Karabakh at Golden Gate Bridge. In the city, the San Francisco Police Department also started hate-crime investigations for events related to the Amernian community including gunshots to the sign of an Armenian school.
Mayor Breed issued a statement on October 25 in which she said she had to “condemn the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey for their actions against Armenia and Artsakh, which seem motivated by the same reprehensible hatred and scapegoating that led to the Armenian Genocide over a century ago.” The mayor called on leaders in Washington to address the conflict.
The Azerbaijan Cultural Society of Northern California also denounced attacks to their office on October 20, and said these were related to the Karabakh conflict.
“Sadly, hateful slogans were graffitied on the walls of the building,” the Azerbaijan Cultural Society of Northern California said in their official statement. “The Azerbaijan Cultural Society of Northern California condemns all forms of hate, and calls for the law enforcement authorities to investigate this hate crime so our community can again feel safe in their homes across the Bay Area.”
As a result of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the United States has made efforts to stop it. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on Friday, October 23 to discuss steps to halt the violence in Nagorno-Karabakh. “Both must implement a ceasefire and return to substantive negotiations,” said Pompeo via Twitter.
In an official statement made on October 23, the Governments of the United States of America, the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan, said the foreign ministers of the latter countries had committed to the humanitarian ceasefire agreed upon in Moscow on October 10. According to the officials, the ceasefire began at 8 a.m. local time on October 26 in the Nagorno-Karabakh territory. They added that the nations are closer to a peaceful resolution to the conflict.