BOSTON — On October 5, the Zoravik Activist Collective together with a coalition of Boston-area youth, activist, and advocacy groups held a silent protest outside of the JFK Federal Building in Boston to condemn the silence of the US Congress and the inaction — or worse, the near-complicity — of the Biden Administration regarding the blockade, invasion and ethnic cleansing of over 100,000 Artsakh Armenians by the genocidal regime in Azerbaijan.
The demonstrators demanded sanctions against Azerbaijan, accountability for war crimes, and the release of all Armenian civilian hostages, kidnapped political leaders, and prisoners of war held in Baku. Conversations were held with individuals entering and leaving the JFK-Federal building as well as with interested passers-by. All were directed to visit ArtsakhSOS.carrd.co, an informational and action resource put together by the organizers and embedded – via QR code – in all protest signs and handouts.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and several of his senior staffers came out of the JFK-Federal Building to personally meet with the protestors and to share a message of support and solidarity. Senator Markey announced that he had just signed legislation to provide humanitarian support to the “Armenians in Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh impacted by the genocidal actions taken by the government of Azerbaijan and to establish sanctions against select Azerbaijani officials.” He declared his active involvement in a bipartisan effort to urge the State Department and Treasury Department to “impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act on select individuals in the government of Azerbaijan.”
Senator Markey also announced that he is “convening a roundtable with Armenian Americans from Greater Boston in ten days so that I can hear, specifically, what their concerns are,” and added: “But I don’t think I need much more than seeing all of you standing out here to [know what] your concerns are and what has to happen from the perspective of the United States government.”
The activists thanked Senator Markey for meeting with the protestors and for his steadfast support of issues of concern to Armenian-Americans, including the bi-partisan initiatives on Artsakh he’d just mentioned. They also conveyed to him and to his political staff that, during the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Artsakh and the existential threat confronting democratic Armenia by the autocratic regimes in Azerbaijan and Turkey, a significantly more vigorous and vocal level of advocacy is expected from allies of the community.
In conversations with Jim Cantwell, senior advisor, and state director to Senator Markey, the activists presented several additional actions that the senator can take to meet the expectations of the Armenian community. These included making one or more speeches on the Senate floor to demand that the leader of his party, President Joe Biden, publicly condemn the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh from their ancestral lands and lead the world in imposing punitive sanctions against the perpetrator regime in Azerbaijan.