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.
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.
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.