LOS ANGELES – Over 500 Armenian Americans, including clergy, community leaders, elected officials, activists and friends and supporters of the Armenian Cause, gathered in solidarity, on the steps of City Hall on April 12 for a candlelight vigil paying homage to and honoring the lives lost during the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in the recent escalation of violence by the Azeri dictatorship.

Master of Ceremonies, Sevak Khatchadorian, Chairman of the Armenian Council of America began the program urging the audience never to forget the courage and integrity of the martyrs who died defending our ancestral land of Artsakh.  Khatchadorian presented H.E. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian Primate of the Western Diocese of Armenian Church of North America and H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian Prelate of the Western Prelacy who delivered the invocation prayer followed by church hymns.

Councilmember Paul Krekorian took the stage demanding that Armenian Americans seek justice through their governmental representatives as a duty for our people. His words served as a call to action for the Armenian American community to get Artsakh officially recognized by the United States government as a sovereign state.  Krekorian also recognized Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, Councilmember Nury Martinez, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Councilmember David E. Ryu, all of whom attended the vigil and are supporters of the Armenian American community.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich spoke about the brutality of the Azeri dictatorship and reaffirmed his long standing support of the Armenian people and their faith in God. He added that Armenians should not be persecuted for their faith by falling victim to savagery committed by those who disagree with our values.

Among the attendees were, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, former Assemblymember Anthony Portantino and representing the office of Assemblymember Mike Gatto, Elena Semerdjian.

Deputy Consul General, for the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Valery Mkrtoumian, Mehran Toumajan from the Armenian Assembly of America and Raffi Kassabian from the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region echoed the sentiments of the previous speakers adding that we must fight to protect what rightfully belongs to the Armenian people. The Artsakh region, where Armenians have lived for countless centuries, that was unethically handed to Azerbaijan, must always remain in Armenian hands.

A solemn duduk performance by Rouben and Grigor Haroutounyan and a song dedicated to the fallen soldier by Armen Movsisyan, mesmerized the diverse audience of young and old, Armenian and non-Armenian community members, as they held candles and proudly waved the flags of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh.

“This peaceful vigil, which drew crowds from all corners of Southern California, served as a reminder that during times of tragedy, the Armenian community unites as stands shoulder to shoulder as one, to defeat the enemy which threatens to take away our liberties and rightful property,” said Khatchadorian “Let this and other events honoring our brothers and sisters in Artsakh show the Azeri dictatorship that we cannot and will not be defeated.”

In memory of the fallen soldiers and innocent lives lost due to the Azeri aggression, the lights illuminating the Los Angeles City Hall building were changed to the tri-color of the Armenian and Arstakh flags.

The event was organized by the Artsakh NKR Community Task Force which includes the following organizations: Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of North America, Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of North America, Armenian Catholic Church, Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, Social Democrat Hunchakian Party – Western Region USA, Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Western Region USA, Armenian Democratic Liberal Party – Western Region USA, Armenian General Benevolent Union, Armenian Assembly of America, Armenian Society of Los Angeles, and the Iraqi Armenian Association.

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