LOS ANGELES, Calif. – On Monday, October 26, ten members of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of the Western United States began a six-day hunger strike at the Federal Building on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles to stand in solidarity with Armenian soldiers on the frontlines in Artsakh. The demonstrators demanded the following from the US government: 1) the recognition of Artsakh, 2) the sanctioning of Turkey, and 3) the sanctioning of Azerbaijan. On October 27, Tro Megrdichian, one of the members participating in the hunger strike delivered a letter containing AYF’s detailed demands to the Federal Building. However, no further letters were accepted after that instance.
AYF Western Region Chairperson Aram Manoukian is one of the ten individuals who participated in the hunger strike. Manoukian declared: “Since Azerbaijan launched its war and terror against Armenia and Artsakh with the sponsorship of Turkey, our community has been doing awe-inspiring work especially here in Los Angeles. We’ve had numerous peaceful and lawful protests, but we realized those types of things are not getting the media attention or coverage they deserve, and most importantly, they aren’t getting the response from the United States government that they deserve. Thus, this was the next logical step for us to take.”
The hunger strike garnered attention and received extended coverage by local stations such as Fox 11 Los Angeles, KTLA5, and ABC7, and Armenian media outlets and stations such as Panarmenian TV, ARTN TV, Horizon Armenian TV, and Zartonk Media.
During the day, the demonstrators walked the surrounding neighborhood passing out flyers, hanging up posters, and speaking with passersby to inform them about the ongoing conflict. In addition to the hunger strike, AYF members protested in front of the UNICEF Los Angeles Regional Office on October 29 to condemn the organization’s lack of action and response to Azerbaijan’s violence against the people of Artsakh.
Each evening, members of the local community gathered from 8-10 p.m. both in person and via livestream to support the group’s efforts. At its peak, there were 500 people in attendance physically and 40,000 people tuning in via Facebook and Instagram livestream. The scheduled programming varied from distinguished speakers delivering addresses to AYF members performing traditional Armenian revolutionary songs.