Thousands Celebrate 30th Anniversary of Artsakh Liberation Movement at Festival
Community Members, Elected Officials, Clergy, and Artsakh Primate Celebrate 30th Anniversary Organized by 24 Glendale Based Organizations
GLENDALE—At the invitation of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Glendale “Aharonian” Chapter, 24 local organizations* came together in a show of unprecedented community and solidarity in the city of Glendale. To commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Liberation Movement, several Glendale based organizations worked hand in hand for months, and the pinnacle of the committee’s work was a community-wide festival in Verdugo Park on Sunday, March 18. Thousands of Armenians came to show their support for the liberation of Artsakh, strong and secure borders for Artsakh, pay respects to the fallen heroes of the Artsakh Liberation Movement, and to see the guest of honor Primate of the Artsakh Diocese Archbishop Parkev Martirosyan.
From the beginning of the event Sunday morning, performances of song and dance were rampant throughout the day. In order to create an environment of celebration and respect, the committee went to great lengths to authentically represent the spirit of resilience of the people of Artsakh. Through the performances of Sokrat Martinian, Arsham, Razmik Mansourian, Gagik Badalyan, Varand, and Antoine Bezdjian, as well as the Armenian Society of Los Angeles’s dance group, the attendees were exposed to music and dance from Artsakh. The festival had various booths and vendors who showcased cultural artifacts from Artsakh, such as famed Artsakh rugs and stamp collections . Roberts Catering’s management & staff were on-hand serving the “Jingelov” bread, “harissa”, authentic kebobs & more with a special attention crafted menu for those observing Lent . The proceeds from all food sales were donated back to the committee.
As soon Arch. Mardirossian entered the festival area, the crowd cheered like it would in a stadium filled to capacity during a world cup game championship goal. Soon after, Nora Tchaparian, the mistress of the ceremony, announced the official opening of the program. The Homenetmen Western United State’s Marching Band, alongside Homenetmen Ararat Scouts conducted the opening ceremony with full color guard. This was followed by the invocation by Arch. Parkev Martirosyan and Very Reverend Father Serob Mkrtichyan, where the entire crowd participated in the reciting the “Lord’s Prayer.”
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Committee member Artin Manoukian gave remarks on behalf of the organizing committee. After a moment of silence, he talked about the activities of the committee that included Requiem service in memory of all those who lost their lives during the Artsakh war, a literary evening presented by the Armenian Youth Association of California, a logo design contest for the 30th Anniversary & an essay & drawing contest for children age 8-14 addressed to the soldiers of Artsakh. Manoukian also mentioned that the proceeds from the event would go to building greenhouses in Artsakh’s bordering regions for the needy families as well as for the families of wounded or martyred soldiers, to boost agro-economic activity in the region. Mr. Manoukian spoke about how Stalin tried to exterminate the Armenians by axing the intellectuals and dividing Armenia into pieces…Giving Gars & Ardahan to Turkey, Artsakh & Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan, & Javakhk to Georgia…He said “but when Stalin was devising the country, he didn’t count on one major fact, that of the Diaspora” He didn’t count on the fact that for well over 7 decades, the people of the Diaspora would fight with their daggers and shovels and quills, and they would hold high the blood drenched flag of their ancestors singing the song of freedom and dreaming of the Free, Independent, & United Armenia.
With the movement in Artsakh, Armenians from all over the world began demanding their historical rights as one nation , by remembering the movements led by General Dro, Njdeh, and Aram Manoukians, Armenians thirty years ago created a new struggle and won with the sacrifices of the the Artur Megerdichians, the Begors, the Vartan Bakhshians, the Bedos, the Garods, the Tatul Krpeyans, the Simon Achigeozians, and thousands more. Today, the preservation and independence of Artsakh are the utmost important challenges that the Armenian nation faces.”
Manoukian then acknowledged all the dignitaries, Mr. Gaydzag Zeitlian, of the Lay Council of the Armenian Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia, Mr. Razmig Stepanyan, representing the Armenian Consulate, Mr. Daron Der Khachadourian, from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western Region’s Central Committee, Very Reverend Ftr. Serop Megerdichian, representing the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, Western Diocese Diocesan Council Chairman, and member of the Supreme Spiritual Council, Joseph Kanimian, Esq., elected officials and their representatives who were present and who had presented the Archbishop and the 30th Anniversary Celebration Committee with proclamations & recognitions, including Assemblymember Laura Friedman, members of the Glendale City Council Zareh Sinanyan, Vrej Agajanian, Ara Najarian; Glendale Unified School District members Shant Sahakian and Greg Krikorian; and Burbank Unified School District member Dr. Armond Aghakanian; and Crescenta Valley Town Council Harry Leon.
Also, representative of Congressman Adam Schiff’s office Mary Hovagimian, a representative of Senator Anthony Portantino’s office Arda Tchakian; representative of County Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office Jarrod DeGonia;
At the end of his speech, Mr. Manoukian introduced the guest of honor, Artsakh Prelate Archbishop Parkev Martirosyan.
Arch. Martirosyan, not only a religious figure but an important figure of the Liberation struggle in Artsakh, conveyed his profound gratitude to the committee and community in Glendale for being champions of Artsakh’s right to self-determination. He mentioned how many Californians participated in the Artsakh Struggle on the front lines, through sending funds and supplies, and offering support in various ways. He mentioned the resilience of the people of Artsakh, who cannot imagine a life without their borders strong and their homeland free. Their freedom is too valuable to compromise, and all the people in Artsakh are willing to exact all the tools at their disposal to exact justice. He commended the committee for not just speaking out but working hard for Artsakh, and encouraged everyone to continue this example of unity.
The Primate then greeted all the public servants on stage, and presented Heno Amerkhanian with the Cross of Valor. Heno was a veteran of the Artsakh Liberation Struggle and participated in battles in the Hadrout and Martakert regions. His exemplary dedication and bravery was detailed as Arch. Martirosyan read his biography and bestowed upon him the medal.
After Adam Schiff’s congratulatory message was played for the entire crowd, winners of the raffle prizes (including a free round trip to Armenia) were announced. Winners of various competitions, including an essay/drawing contest for children age 8-14 were picked in a random lotter amongst the finalists where Silvia Khoubarian & Anahid Kchoyan for the“Letter/Picture for Our Soldiers” contest were the lucky winners of the round trip ticket to Armenia and Michael Srourian was awarded a special Artsakh Rug donated by ARF Aharonian Gomideh for the winning design of the committee’s official Logo contest.
At the end of the official program, Arch. Martirosyan along with the entire crowd participated in a traditional Kochari dance. With Rouben Harutyunyan and Nune Avetisyan, Salpi Miyalyan, Hovhannes Balian, Arthur Hacobian and Joseph Krikorian performing until the evening, the community of Glendale danced in the spirit of unity, community, and of course victory.
The 30th Anniversary of the Artsakh Liberation was marked with all the aspects of the liberation struggle. National unity, cooperation, and celebration were all central themes in the thousands of attendees in Glendale, CA on this March weekend.
The committee’s slogan says it all, Artsakh IS Armenia.
Members of the Organizing Committee
Armenian American Council on Aging
Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Glendale “Aharonian” Chapter
Armenian National Committee of America – Glendale Chapter
Armenian Philatelic Association of Glendale
Armenian Relief Society – Glendale “Sepan” Chapter
Armenian Society of Los Angeles
Armenian Youth Association of California
Armenian Youth Federation – Glendale “Roupen” Chapter
Armenian Youth Federation – “Shant” & “Zavarian” Juniors Chapters
Artsakh Arts and Cultural Foundation
Chamlian Armenian School
Davitian – Mariamian Educational Foundation
Garoun—For A Better Future
Glendale Community College – Armenian Students Association
Hamazkayin Glendale “Hovannes Toumanian” Chapter
Homenetmen – Glendale “Ararat” Chapter
Jan Tavriz Compatriotic Union
Mousa Ler Association of California
New Julfa Zartonk Society
Richard Tufenkian Preschool
Salmast Heritage Association
Society of Vasbouragan
St Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church
Urmia Hye Association
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