BOSTON – Two successive Armenian public events to raise awareness of the recent attacks on the Armenian border by Azerbaijan were disrupted in the Boston area by Azerbaijanis or their supporters last week.
On July 22, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF-YOARF) Greater Boston Nejdeh Chapter organized a “die-in” protest at the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Federal Building in Boston. According to Meghri Dervartanian, a member of the chapter, it took place from 4:30 p.m. to roughly 7 p.m. She said, “Most of us lay on the ground or sidewalk with signs stating ‘Stop Azeri aggression,’ ‘Armenia pro-peace, Azerbaijan wants war,’ and ‘Armenia wants peace.’ It is not something you see every day, so that got a lot of attention.” Armenians standing around would explain to passersby what was going on in more detail.
Azerbaijanis drove by and threw water bottles from their cars. She guessed that they found out about the event accidentally. Then, Dervartanian said, some parked their cars and came out. They were yelling in Azerbaijani so the Armenians could only roughly guess at what they were saying. Dervartanian thought it meant that Karabakh is Azerbaijan. When the Armenians chanted “Azeri youth learn the truth,” the newcomers yelled back “Armenians learn the truth,” and they flipped around all of the other slogans of the Armenians too.
There were around 50 Armenians participating in this protest, while around 20 Azerbaijanis had come. Dervartanian said they seemed older than the Armenians, with the exception of a few who might be in their 20s.
A second Armenian event was held at Harvard Square in Cambridge on Saturday, July 25 from 6:30 p.m. to sometime past 7. It was a dance flash mob organized by the Armenian General Athletic Union and Scouts Boston chapter (otherwise known as Homenetmen by the names of its Armenian initials), a sports group like the AYF affiliated with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. The event was supposed to take place Thursday, July 23 but was postponed to Saturday because of a forecast of rain.
Dervartanian is also a leader of the Homenetmen chapter. She said that the second event was advertised as open to the entire Armenian community. They had decided on several dances before the event and prepared a big sign stating “Azerbaijan wants war, Armenia wants peace.” The goal through dancing, a universal language, she said, was to show Americans that Armenians are in favor of peace.