RIDGEFIELD, NJ – More than 200 people attended a benefit program and concert on Saturday, June 4, honoring the 104th anniversary of the First Independent Republic of Armenia and supporting the people of Artsakh.
Organized by the Artsakh Eastern United States Fund of the Armenian Cultural Association of America (ACAA) to raise funds for new projects in Artsakh, the event began with Homenetmen scouts carrying national flags and saluting as the anthems of Armenia and Artsakh were played.
Mistress of Ceremonies Pauline Dostoumian, a committee member of the ACAA Eastern US Artsakh Fund, noted in her opening remarks that in May 1918 against all odds, the “fools” paved the way to victory, and from 1988 to 1994, once again the “fools” liberated the fortified city of Shushi, as well as 90% of historic Artsakh. However, the 2020 Artsakh war was different in that we faced external and internal enemies. She said that today our existence as a nation is in grave danger because without Artsakh we don’t have Armenia, and without Armenia we don’t have a diaspora. “Let’s join our voices to the resistance movement in our homeland and say no to normalizations with Turkey, no to the depopulation of Artsakh”, Dostoumian launched, continuing: “Artsakh will never be part of Azerbaijan”. She said that we have an obligation and a duty to pass on a stable, secure and strong homeland to our future generations. The borders of our nation are not subject to negotiation because they have been fixed by the blood of our young soldiers and volunteers. “The ‘madmen’ marching today in the streets of Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor and in the streets of Stepanakert will certainly soon lead the way to victory again,” Dostoumian concluded.
Nairi Diratsouian presented the voice of youth, reconfirming the commitment to serve. “We young people have assumed this duty to serve our nation at all levels, to ensure the survival of our nation,” she said. “Whether it’s defending political priorities in the halls of Congress or protesting the surrender, the will and sacrifice of our ancestors inspires our generation to exhaust all avenues to secure Armenia’s independence and of Artsakh. We will not comply with the demand of the genocidal dictators of Erdogan and Aliyev,” Diratsouyan concluded.
Diratsouian and Dostoumian were among the event committee members, along with Maral Kaprielian, Niree Kaprielian, Ani Keshishian, Hovig Keushkerian and Marina Yakoubian.
The evening’s keynote speaker, Sebouh Hatzakordzian, head of the ACAA Fund Committee for Eastern US Artsakh and a member of the Eastern US Central Committee for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation ( ARF), presented the post-war projects in Artsakh. He explained the achievements of the committee and the ongoing projects and shared plans for the border villages in the Martuni region.
The presentation was followed by a video message from Antranig Chavoushian, Mayor of Aghavno Village in Artsakh, who thanked the committee for its contribution to the village and assured viewers that through joint efforts, shoulder to shoulder , we can achieve our national goals. Hatzakordzian praised the courage and heroism of Chavoushian, who refused to surrender the village and risked his life with his family to protect the village of Aghavno. Hatzakordzian concluded his presentation by emphasizing that we have no choice but to help the people of Artsakh. He stressed that the liberation of the territories of Artsakh occupied by Shushis and Azeris and the return of the original Armenian population to their ancestral homeland are essential for the survival of our nation. “It is important to celebrate the release of Shushi [May 1992] on an annual basis because it gives us energy and hope to achieve it again. We believe that Shushi will breathe with the Armenian spirit again, the smile will return to the children of Shushi, and the bells of Ghazantchetsotz will ring again,” he noted. “We have no right to fail; if we fail, we lose our country, and if we lose Hayasdan, we lose the diaspora. We have to start here tonight and make sure that by succeeding tonight we can help Artsakh survive,” he concluded.
Most Reverend Father Sahag Yemishyan, Pastor of Sts of New Jersey. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church, conveyed its message of support for Artsakh Fund projects and concluded with prayers of blessing.
An electrifying concert of patriotic songs followed the program, with performances by Kevork Artinian and his band. All participants participated enthusiastically, young and old waving our national flags and singing.
At a climax, the entire crowd rose to their feet chanting “Zartir Lao,” lighting up their phone flashlights in a show of support for the resistance movement in our homeland. It was a special moment to see a community leave defeatism behind and recharge its energy and renew its commitment to the people of Artsakh.
The New Jersey community has expressed moral and financial support. Donations kept pouring in, eventually exceeding $40,000, for which the committee expresses its sincere gratitude.