1. AYF member and hunger striker Tro Megrdichian delivering letter to Federal Building

Armenian Youth Federation Organizes Hunger Strike and March to Raise Awareness of Ongoing War in Artsakh

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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.

Hour 24 of AYF West Hunger Strike

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.”

AYF members and community members gathered in front of the Federal Building on Wilshire Boulevard

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.

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Aram stated: “We use the nightly program to call on our community to do three things, to donate to Armenia Fund, to make their political voice heard through anca.org/alert, and lastly to do visual advocacy through social media. Every Armenian needs to do what they can do so we can be successful.”

The demonstrators slept in tents in front of the Federal Building and remained on site for the entire duration of the strike. The organization took necessary precautions to protect the health and well-being of the demonstrators. They were examined by a doctor twice daily and monitored by various healthcare professionals who remained on site 24 hours a day.

Aram explained: “Since the onslaught of the war, our AYF members have all been thinking, ‘we gotta do whatever is needed.’ The ten of us who are doing this felt mentally and physically prepared so it was an easy decision for us. It’s been very fulfilling to know that we’re doing our part to bring awareness and attention to what’s happening in Artsakh and Armenia right now. However, what we’re doing is absolutely nothing compared to the sacrifices our soldiers and community members are making in Artsakh and Armenia every day.”

AYF hunger strikers leading the March for Recognition

The hunger strike concluded with a “March for Recognition” on Sunday, November 1, which began at the Federal Building and culminated at the Azerbaijani Consulate.

See also the following video on Instagram:

 

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#RecognizeArtsakh #SanctionTurkey #SanctionAzerbaijan

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