Monthly Archives: October 2020

A Stream of Thoughts During Times of War.

Ever since the war started, friends and family are constantly telling me to relax. They tell me that I look worried and that my face has gone permanently pale. Apparently, I seem overly stressed. This is not like the regular stress I usually feel when I have school assignments due or the chronic stress caused by lack of money, but rather something more overwhelming that seems to crush my spirits. Apparently, the world can visibly see me be overcome by despair and sadness whenever I check the news on my phone. Despite how frequently I check, with no respite, my face gets even pailer and I fall more deeply into gloom. 

Close friends have told me that they never knew they would witness the day where I would be the quietest in a room full of people. They always joked around and told me that they would give anything to see that day. Now, they regret ever saying that. They have since acknowledged that an existential war was too high of a price to pay in return for a few hours of them not hearing my many bright ideas. 

Do not get me wrong, I am sad. I have been to Yerablur twice in the last week and it has been painful. I have seen grown Armenian men, who are infinitely stronger and braver than I am, who already live the toughest lives, who have been told to never show weakness,  sob relentlessly and mourn the loss of their sons who they loved so dearly. 

The grief of the family members of those fallen soldiers is cut short by authorities who reluctantly tell them that they need to finish with their ceremonies. There are other young men who are coming in caskets to be laid to rest and there is not enough time. There are other fathers waiting to give their brave sons a last farewell as they sob and allow themselves for once to be weak and vulnerable. There is no shortage of heroes and hero-birthing parents on Yerablur these days. 

Emotional exhaustion is what I am really feeling. Thanks to the internet, the day is filled with a roller-coaster of emotions. I can wake up feeling functional in the morning by hearing that the clashes at the border were “relatively stable” and an hour later my heart is broken as pictures of a wounded Artsakh load on my phone. 

I never realized how the internet had changed war forever. News spreads so quickly and so frequently that it is impossible to shut yourself off. The flow of news is constant and every piece of information takes its toll on me. However, the information often raises more questions than it answers. It is information that keeps us in the dark and slowly drives us crazy as we ponder and think about all the worst possible scenarios.  

I feel like I have been slapped in the face by reality, by history, and by the shere indifference of humanity. I have heard and reheard about the unfortunate geographic location of Armenia that has been the cause of so many wars as the world’s greatest empires marched and trampled on our land for thousands of years. I have heard and reheard about the genocide and all the culture that was taken away from us. A hundred years later, old grumpy men in my community who have met only a handful of Turks in their lives, reiterate that “The Turk won’t ever change.” 

But, I have also heard and reheard all the stories about how the ancient Armenians, against all odds, have again and again fought for their survival and won. Stories of Aram Manukyan and Sartarapat have been played like a broken record in my home. My dad believed he would fail as a parent if the echoes of those stories were not heard throughout the lives of his sons.

Since the fighting started on September 27th, being Armenian suddenly felt way too real. Those stories that I have heard growing up were not fiction and I feel the weight of them on my shoulders. Nothing has changed for the Armenians. Our homeland is still at the crossroads of civilizations. Our existence is threatened once again when the world is too preoccupied. In reality, perhaps that is where the real exhaustion comes from –  that the world continues to disappoint. Yet again our cries for help fell on deaf ears and once more we, and we alone will be the deciders of our fate and the guarantors of our survival.

A look into the future when my father and I will visit a free Artsakh again.

We Didn’t Expect This After 105 Years

Arax Kassouny

As an Armenian, these past couple of weeks have been filled with emotions that I did not know exist. My eyes are filled with tears, my heart gained a ton of sorrow, and my head is going three different directions, thinking about our brave-hearted soldiers, their families, and not being able to focus on my daily tasks. As we all heard by now, Nagorno-Karabakh, also referred to as Artsakh, which belongs to Armenia, has been under attack by Azerbaijan since September 27th. With the help of Turkey’s military and other terrorists sent from Syria, Azerbaijani troops are destroying our country, Artsakh, and killing its citizens. However, with our fearless soldiers, countless donations from Armenians all around the world, we are united like never before, one hand, and walking through the mud together until we find the light at the end of the tunnel and celebrate a new independence day.

           It is never easy to witness your enemies try to steal your lands and turning them into ashes. But it is unbearable to see your enemies not being held accountable for their actions, and not taking responsibility for bombing parts of your country, which led to the death of hundreds of innocent souls and still coldheartedly accuse us, Armenians, for being the aggressors. Yes, we are shuttered, sad, heartbroken that Azeris and Turks did this again, but are we surprised? 

           We, Armenians, are not surprised by Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s actions because they have always been our murderers, stealers and aggressors. As the saying goes, “history repeats itself,” and unfortunately, this part of our history is definitely repeating itself. It goes back to 1915 to 1923 when the Armenian genocide happened, where the Ottoman government murdered 1.5 million Armenians. Turks raped, tortured, and killed Armenians to wipe our race off the earth. The rest who escaped Armenia survived, and this is the reason why Armenians are scattered all around the world. Since then, Turkey had always been denying that a genocide ever happened. After that, in 1923, Former Premier of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, gave Artsakh to Azerbaijan because he wanted Azerbaijan to join the SSR (the Soviet Union), while the majority of Artsakh’s population was Armenians However, after the SSR collapsed, Armenians voted to gain their independence back. Fast forward to 1992, when the war happened, we, Armenians, reclaimed our land, Artsakh, and a ceasefire was implemented. Azerbaijan has been violating the ceasefire ever since. Of course, Turkey has Azerbaijan’s back because they share the same goal: killing all Armenians and living in a world where not a single Armenian individual and piece of land exist. Now Azerbaijan is still striking Syunik, Stepanakert, and we do not know what is next. 

           After all these years of damage to our country and killing our people they still refuse to admit that they were our killers. After all these years of denial and not letting the world recognize the Armenian genocide, they continue bombing our land and blaming us for killing their soldiers, citizens, and stealing their land. 

           However, nowadays, we are much stronger and prepared to survive every crime that Turkey and Azerbaijan does and now we are showing the world our true colors. They are striking Artsakh and demanding war and preparing their children to hate Armenians, while we are demanding peace. At every age group, countless men and women are volunteering and putting their lives at risk for our safety. To keep the small land that we have. One of my Syrian-Armenian friends, who came to Armenia four years ago after escaping the Syrian war, volunteered and went to war without hesitation as soon as he heard about the conflict. He came back last week because he got injured after a bomb exploded near him, and he told us stories that filled my heart with sadness and joy at the same time. I have never felt as mixed emotions, where I smiled while having a smile on my face. He told us how he felt empowered by the other volunteers and our hero soldiers to fight with his full power when he felt low and scared. Also, he said that they could not eat, drink, speak, nor smoke at night, because any kind of sound and even the light of the cigarette will give away their location to the real aggressors, who are the Azeris. I cannot imagine the fear that they are living with, the thought of the possibility of not seeing their parents, kids, siblings ever again, the sleepless nights, and the panic every time an explosion happens. 

           After hearing these stories, I felt more motivated to help the families that escaped from Artsakh and came to Yerevan and do what I can to be a part of this victory because we will win. A nation who was the first to accept Christianity, our faith is enormous. We’re a peaceful nation; we have proofs and pieces of evidence. The history is with us.

To summarize, the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, joined with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is killing Armenians and want to steal our lands. We are a small nation, but we are strong and united. We already lost enough brave souls and for these heroes and our great great-parents who survived the genocide, hence why I am here writing this blog, will continue on fighting. Like the saying, “We woke up to a war” that went viral, regarding our situation now, one day, “we woke up to a peace” will be too. 

We woke up in the war

By Margarita Zakharova (Margot)

I never was a real patriot, but the spirit of patriotism always lived in me somehow. It’s like I was realizing that it is not fashionable or “cool” to be a patriot, but that was not a real reason for my not being a “true” patriot. I cannot give a proper explanation as to why I always avoided being a patriot of my country. Recently, I posted a picture of me holding an Armenian flag on the top of the castle, and my caption to this photo was the following: “I’ve noticed that being a patriot is not “fashionable” nowadays. This is the right time to appreciate our country and become a true patriot.” After this post, one of the girls I know texted me, saying that she wouldn’t ever think that people like me would ever support their country or found themselves patriotic. I still do not know what she meant by “people like me” (it sounded a little offensive though), but I told her that during these hard times it would be absurd if I did not support an Armenia if my heart didn’t ache for the country in which I spent most of my adult, conscious life, the country, where my favorite people live, in which I study, and in which I spend my best years of life.

I live in a small country called Armenia. It is situated right between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Already for 30 years, Armenia has been involved in the Artsakh conflict with Azerbaijan, and after years of the conflict, Azerbaijan decided to resolve this conflict with violence. On September 27, 2020, I and my nation woke up in the war.

It’s been 19 days since the war started. I remember the morning of September 27, when I woke up in a pretty good mood for a morning. My mood immediately changed when I opened the news and saw that Azeris started bombing Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh in the early morning. I remember me thinking that our nation will go through a lot of changes starting from that day. It was obvious for all of us, that this war won’t last 4 days as it happened in the April War in 2016. It got even scarier when Armenian PM Nikol Pashinian announced mobilization, which meant that all men who were in the army once had to immediately leave their families and friends for Artsakh. 

Artsakh president Arayik Harutyunyan drinking his morning coffee with soldiers at the front line.

On that day, despite the fact I was ill, I decided to meet a person who is very important to me. It’s like we remember about people we love the most in the hardest moments somehow. I also needed the motivation to do my homework, as I couldn’t make myself do it at home, and went to Cascade, one of the most famous parts of Yerevan’s downtown. I sat in one of the cafes and tried to do something, at least write one sentence of my essay, but I couldn’t. My head was busy with my thoughts about war. I was thinking about my friends who could go there. I was thinking about the fact that maybe I won’t see them again after they leave. It was very sad to realize that such thoughts have become a part of our reality.

Later on, some of my friends came to the cafe we were sitting at. After constant talking, I caught myself on the fact that I got silent. After analyzing myself for years, I learned the fact that if I suddenly get silent, it means that I have many thoughts that are eating me from inside, but I cannot speak up about them. What was happening in my head was a mix of the recent events of my personal life and more global problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war. The saddest thing about that mix was that when it comes to your personal life, it is a drama which is connected only to you, and it touches only you, so you can solve your problems and continue to live. But when your problems become more global, such as the current war, and it is not only your problem but the problem that touches the whole nation, you cannot focus on your personal problems. Moreover, your personal problems do not make sense anymore, but they still concern you on a subconscious level. And then you sit and realize that now besides your personal drama you have more serious drama to deal with and you sit there feeling a big ball of stress falling on your head.

Besides all of these thoughts in my head, sitting there, I was watching my friends. Their eyes were full of fear of the war. It is something that nobody should experience in the 21st century. I was also watching a couple sitting at another table. We knew them. When they came into the cafe, a boy looked at us, we asked if he was also leaving for Artsakh, and he said: “Yes, but don’t tell my girlfriend.” One hour later, I noticed that the girl started crying, and her boyfriend started calming her down. It was one of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever seen in my life. He told her that he was leaving for Artsakh. I was staring at them, and my eyes were full of tears. I was happy that at that moment, the person I loved was by my side. At least we had each other, I thought.

Armenian volunteers heading to the war on September 27 in Yerevan.

My mother always used to tell me that she likes Russian movies about WW2, and I never understood it. She still talks about it whenever the topic that we discuss touches the theme of the war. I remember watching these movies together with her when I was younger, and I remember the feeling I had every time I watched them. We still watch these movies sometimes. Every time we watch them together, she starts to tell me about her grandfather and how he participated in WW2. I was always amazed by everything that brave soldiers and my grandfather went through, the way they fought on the battlefield, and the way they were fighting for peace and justice. There were times when I was thinking that I also would like to participate in a war if I lived back then. One may think that it is very dramatic, tragic, or terrifying, but listening to the stories or watching movies about war is one thing, and experiencing the war and being a witness of its process and its horror is the whole another experience, which you wouldn’t wish to get even to your enemy.

Russian-Ukrainian movie “Battle for Sevastopol” (2015) – my favorite war genre movie.

I am half-Russian and half-Armenian. Most of my life I lived in Russia. But now I feel like my true home is Armenia. My whole life is here, in this beautiful country. I cannot stand the thought that my country is going through something so terrifying as a war. I and my friends, who are not at the front line, are trying to do our best to help people in Artsakh. We collect food, clothes, and other needs. We fight against Azerbaijani and Turkish aggression online, trying to spread awareness about the conflict among international people. We also try to live a normal life, but life is not the same when people around you are stressed when you are stressed. Life is not the same when every morning you have to look for your friends’ names in the list of dead people. I can say that it is the hardest time of all I had in my life. It is the hardest time that all Armenian people had in their lives. We have to stay strong, and at this point, the only thing we can do is support each other and hope for the best. I feel like I have to say that it is the time when people who love each other have to stay by each other’s side because nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. I have never seen such a powerful nation, and I am proud to be a part of it. This is a true spirit of patriotism, of healthy patriotism. It is something we will remember about, and something that we are going to tell our kids about, and make them proud. This is my message to the whole Armenian nation – do not lose your spirit, because we will win.

The day has come

by zara kevorkova

придет день

и я взорву все вокруг

своей сущностью.

надо просто переждать шторм.

[a day will come / and i will blow everything up / with my essence. / just gotta wait out the storm]

A few years ago, my father and I visited the Yerablur Pantheon in Yerevan. Quite a few of my father’s friends, being the veterans of the 1990s Nagorno-Karabakh war, are buried there. Many of them died long after the war; after they lived a long, happy life, filled with adventures and stories told as anecdotes to this day. Many of them have been married at least twice, traveled the world, and seen the country they fought for recover from ashes. 

On the 11th of October, I visited the Yerablur pantheon. A friend of mine, who happened to be a soldier during the new Nagorno-Karabakh War, is buried there now. He died during the war after he lived an unfairly short but happy life, filled with some adventures and a few stories we’ll tell and retell to each other now. He didn’t get to be married or have kids. He traveled the world but never ended up moving to Boston and studying social sciences.

All these people are together now, or at least I believe they are. I believe that my friend is somewhere, looking down on me with a glass of cold rosé and an unlit cigarette in his hands. This is what you have to believe, right? Otherwise, what’s the point? Otherwise, all that is left of a person after his death is a note, written many months prior, a gravestone with two dates, and a few photographs. 

The war started on September 27th, 2020. I found out about it because many people texted me, asking if I am safe. You see, I came back from Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, a day before the war began. By mere chance, I forgot to warn my manager about a day off on Friday and had to come back early. Otherwise, I would have stayed until Sunday. Coincidences are a funny thing. 

Two years ago, a friend of mine and I visited our friend Nina in Stepanakert for the first time. We went there as tourists; we visited museums, landmarks, and historical sites. Last year, Nina and I went there to conduct interviews for a university project. 

This year, visiting Stepanakert was an idea I had ever since April, when, thanks to COVID-19, everything went online in a matter of days, and leaving the house stopped being a necessity. Somehow, this adventure kept being delayed for this or that reason. 

And then in September, everything finally fell into place. We packed a suitcase, called Igor (the taxi driver that drove us to Stepanakert and back many times), and next morning at 6 a.m. sharp, we were on our way. 

Diana and I at 8am on our way to Stepanakert.

This year there were three reasons to visit Stepanakert. 

Reason #1 Stepanakert is a city of warmth

soundtrack #1

Stepanakert was the fastest I ever fell in love. After staying there for only a day, you start to feel at home. The city welcomes you with open arms and holds your hand throughout your journey. The people there are warm and will help you no matter what you need. Occasionally, they may even change their plans and walk with you, simply because you asked them for directions.

On one of the days in Stepanakert, my friend’s mom (who open-heartedly welcomed us to her home and treated us like her own daughters for a whole week) gave us a little tour of the city. Among other things, she showed us buildings that, to this day, carry the painful memories of the Karabakh War in the 1990s. When looking at these massive embodiments of socialism, one would think they are impenetrable. But then you start to notice little holes in the walls of these giants. These holes show you how much they have seen and how much more they are ready to endure.

The people in Stepanakert are proud of their city. They fought for their right to live there, and they cherish every inch of it. The brutalist buildings, the noble monuments, and the carefully handcrafted store signs show the effects socialist design had on the city. But right along with the restricted, boxy buildings, you can find captivating street art, bars, where the music doesn’t stop until the last person is gone, and cafes, where everyone can get a warm waffle and a wide variety of teas.

Coincidentally, my Stepanakertsi friend Nina is the owner of a similar cafe. Saying that her cafe is beautiful is a rude understatement. It is cozy and warm, even on cold days, which are not rare in Stepanakert. It is located in the city’s very heart, just a few minutes away from the main square. Frankly speaking, pretty much everything there is located in the heart of Stepanakert. It is a small city, but it’s got a huge heart. 

Nina’s beautiful café called Garden’s. Retrieved from Facebook

Her cafe is warm, not only thanks to the teas, cocktails, and checkered blankets, but also thanks to the people. Each person working in the cafe deserves a separate story written about them. From Angel’s innocent twinkling laugh, Edmon’s loud gentlemanliness, Syuzi’s perfect waffles, to Samvel’s experimental cocktails, all these people are the indivisible part of the cafe’s warmness. 

Reason #2 Stepanakert is a city that brings people together 

soundtrack #2

When Diana and I visited Stepanakert for the first time, we were not very close. We knew each other from university; we met up occasionally and had a few drinks. We shared a few jokes and shared a mutual love for Soviet cartoons. So when we decided to take this trip, we were much more than strangers but a bit less than best friends. After traveling for six hours and spending four days in Stepanakert in 2018, there was no doubt that we would go back to Yerevan closer than ever. After returning to Stepanakert in 2020, we knew that the city would find a way to bring us all even closer. And it surely did.

There we used to walk all the time. Since the city is relatively small, you can get from one end to the other in a few hours. Unless, of course, you don’t get lost. Which Diana and I did, repeatedly. Even after asking for directions, we somehow managed to get confused and appear on the other end of the street. Later we learned the right way to the cafe from home, and we stuck to it until the very last day, refusing to walk through shortcuts.

Despite being away from Yerevan’s hustle, our classes still went on, the deadlines were still in place, and we needed to find somehow the motivation to finish them. It was nearly impossible to find a will to do assignments, when there is so much in the city we haven’t yet seen, when there are so many foods in the cafe we haven’t yet tried, and when there are so many drinks, David still hasn’t given us to try. So logically, we tried to find this motivation in each other. Every day, we would make plans and force each other to follow them. And every day started the same way.

“Девочки [Devochki – girls], today we are not drinking – Nina would say, sitting on the edge of my bed.”

“I agree – Diana would whisper from under her blanket – let’s focus on homework today and finish everything.” 

“Okay, but we should work from the cafe, so we concentrate better – I would say foolishly.”

All three of us knew very well that we would go to the cafe, take out our laptops and start chatting with the staff. Then, when the judgemental empty docs would stare at us for too long, we would say. 

“Okay! No! Let’s finish this!”

And then someone would offer us some food, and the laptops would close with a fair justification that “one can’t work on an empty stomach.” After finishing our food and convincing each other to study, we would do some work. It turns out; you can actually bully someone into studying. But then, as soon as someone gets distracted for even a mere minute, the laptops would close again, and we’d start planning our evening. 

Diana, Nina and I carelessly disregarding our deadlines and rushing to Bardak through a complete fog

We’d always go to Bardak, a bar made from scratch, and run by Azat. The second you enter, the usual tidy, silent Stepanakert is left behind. Bardak is vibrant and loud. Posters from different eras, broken phones, icons, old street signs, and generally anything that comes to mind can be used as design hangs on Bardak’s walls. The bathroom of Bardak is decorated by the customers themselves. Everyone has a chance to leave a note on the bathroom wall and immortalize their presence there. 

Disregarding the promise made in the morning, we would order drinks. David (Bardak’s bartender) would surprise us with a new cocktail every day. And he always promised that if we didn’t like it, he would happily drink it himself. But he didn’t disappoint us even once. He and Azat would drive us home every night since we always stayed until the very last song. 

Stepanakert has a way of bringing closer even people you meet for the first time. After having a drink with them in Stepanakert, be sure you have a friend forever.

Reason #3 Stepanakert is a city of friendship.

soundtrack #3

Nina was not the only friend I came to visit this time. This time, I had another friend waiting for me in the army. He left in January of this year, back when we only knew each other for a short four months. We became friends over our mutual music taste, drinks, and stupid jokes. Later, we got closer when he was in the army.

He awaited this meeting for a long time since he barely saw anyone outside his army mates after being of quarantine. Occasionally Nina would send him sweets and waffles from the cafe, but he really missed Yerevanian candies and his books. So he was not only waiting for me, but also for a chance to finally get his hands on new books and some coffee.

I visited him on the very first day I arrived. Frankly, I didn’t recognize him at first; he had lost a lot of weight. But after a brief five-minute talk, it was easy to realize he was the same old guy that left in January. The same guy, with a few reevaluated worldviews.

We sat in the bushes near their building and talked until two in the morning. We discussed everything, from the Yerevanian drama between mutual friends to philosophical ideas on life itself. We told each other stories that thought would never be disclosed and confessed hilarious secrets that seemed very important before. We went over a bundle of old jokes and memories we both share but remember very differently.

He was finally smoking his favorite cigarettes that another friend of ours asked me to buy at the last minute. We sat there, smoking until two in the morning, and when the topics for reminiscing were done we just sat in silence and listened to mutually adored music.

That night, as we sat in the bushes and glimpsed at people in the windows, we thought of everything we haven’t yet done in our lives. Everything we have been scared to say, feel, or even think about. Every thought we kept in secret because of our tendency to overthink the consequences. Every carefully picked word because we didn’t want others to know too much. We thought of everything we are still meant to do. Every new song we have to discover every new poem we have to learn. Every new heartbreak we have to feel and every new lover we have to find. And then in that night, my friend said this

“You know, a day will come, and I will blow everything up with my essence.”

I know what you are thinking, but don’t worry. He is safe and in Stepanakert. He calls me every now and then and tells me that everything is okay on their end, that they are listening to music, reading poems, and even eating cookies sometimes.

But so many others are not. Here I am, standing in Yerablur, looking down on a grave. A grave of a person who had so many songs to discover, so many poems to learn and so many hearts to fall in love with. I am not trying to find justice or fairness in this anymore. I am done trying to find a reason, a bigger reason for things to happen. Maybe wars happen because people in power are assholes? Maybe battles for lands are simply a game to them? And maybe coincidences are just coincidences and not higher signs of things? Maybe we give too much importance to signs and forget that all that really matters is what is right in front of us. Maybe we think too much. Think about words we say to each other and words we don’t. Life is too short for bullshit like this. It is an old cliché, but in moments like this, you realize it’s true. We spend too much of our lives arguing with each other; too much effort into hiding our essence from people, because we are afraid of something probably stupid. We spend too much time in silence and inaction when we can be yelling the names of our loved ones from rooftops, chasing them down the street, and kissing them in the rain.

That day has come. A day to sit together, strangers, friends, and lovers. Sit with a cup of tea, share our favorite songs and embarrassing memories, reminisce about people who are no longer with us, immortalize them in the stories we will tell and retell to each other. So let’s drink sweet cocktails and rosé wine, let’s cheer to the lives we all have yet to live. And let’s love each other a little stronger every day and scream from the top of our lungs about that endless love in our hearts.

soundtrack #4
left to right – Dima (our new friend), Diana, me, Nina and Yervand.
Stepanakert, Sep. 2020

Rewriting History

By Hena Aposhian

It was a regular unpleasant Sunday morning. My 8 a.m. alarm was going off – I had to get ready for work. Already exhausted, I managed to get out of bed, sip my coffee, and leave the apartment. My walk to the office was quite ordinary; the streets were in their early stages of welcoming citizens, while some leaves were departing their homes having rejected autumn’s authority. As my thoughts started to wander, sitting behind a desk, my co-worker suddenly began uttering pieces of news from a social media platform: “Stepanakert was being shelled at 7 a.m. Azerbaijani forces had launched an invasion along the border. A war has erupted in Artsakh.”

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh since 1988, yet they have never reached a settlement that would resolve the issue. Till the 27th of September, April 2016 had witnessed the most aggravated escalation on the territory since 1994, which resulted in a four-day war claiming the lives of hundreds from both sides, and eventually was brought to a halt by a ceasefire agreement. However, while violating the agreement, Azerbaijan initiated short-lasting clashes on the borders on more than one occasion.

Back in July, Azerbaijan attacked the border positions in the Tavush region, while Armenia was respecting the peace process. This is why I did not think of the situation as anything THAT serious at first. Nonetheless, as opposed to my intuition, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that martial law and army mobilization is being declared in the country, and several of my friends and acquaintances have volunteered to participate in the war. A fear was awakened in me – a fear I thought had made its final visit in 2012.

Armenian volunteers headed to the war on the morning of September 27.

I was an eyewitness to the bloody civil war in Syria, which caused my family to leave everything behind and seek a safe haven in the forever cherished motherland – Armenia. Today, my motherland, my safe haven is being shaken by yet another bloodthirsty war. It pains me to try to grasp the concept of war; how can the lives of innocent civilians be less valuable than a piece of land? How can people navigate their moral compass and guide themselves towards killing others? How can the defeat and agony of one country produce victory and joy for another? As Brock Chisholm has said: “no one wins a war. It is true, there are degrees of loss, but no one wins.”

The fear inside me keeps on growing as more than two weeks have passed since the Azeris’ initial attack on Artsakh. With no signs of peace, day after day, the conflict is intensified, the death toll is increased, the uncertainty is amplified, and the emotions are on a rollercoaster for most of us. With time, Azerbaijan’s real intentions are getting revealed, as they are not only fighting us on the borders, they are now targeting civilian areas. During the past few days, most of the citizens of Stepankert, capital city of Artsakh, had no choice but to leave and seek shelter in Yerevan, many of which were severely injured, and some were even killed.

An injured civilian in Stepanakert.

We, as Armenians, have endured terrors, traumas and hardships for generations, but we have never given up and have never stopped fighting for our country’s existence and perseverance – this war is no exception.

It hurts for me to realize that we, as a nation, will always have to keep proving ourselves to the world. Everyone across the globe kept silent when the Turks committed the Armenian genocide in 1915, massacred 1.5 million of our ancestors, stripped us from our lands and kicked us out with nowhere to go – we still survived. This time, they will not be able to silence us, nor will we let them be silent. This is a war against not just Armenians, but against humanity as a whole with countries displaying their true nature.

This time, Armenians all over the world are involved by raising awareness on social media platforms, providing relief aid, and going on marches. Our unity and resilience is shining through the chaos. This time, we are conscious of our fight for survival and self-determination, and we will not surrender until the Azeri forces forfeit and Artsakh is internationally recognized as independent.