Armenians in Argentina decry Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – Hundreds of people from Argentina’s Armenian community demonstrated on Saturday (Oct 10) in Buenos Aires, calling for an end to fighting in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The protesters, some wrapped in the red, blue and orange flags of Armenia and the contested enclave, marched from the Azerbaijan embassy to the Turkish embassy, chanting “No to terrorism” and “Peace in Armenia and Artsakh”, using the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh.

The disputed territory is an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, home to about 150,000 people, which broke from Azerbaijan’s control in a war in the 1990s that killed about 30,000 people.

Recent fighting, since Sept 27, has been the heaviest in two decades, with more than 450 people reported dead, thousands forced to flee their homes and fears of escalation into a devastating all-out conflict.

Ms Diana Dergarabetian, a second-generation Argentinian-Armenian, lamented shelling in the region.

“The losses are deplorable on both sides,” she told AFP. “This struggle is not against the people of Azerbaijan, the Armenian people are defending their right to self-determination.”

“It’s very sad, they are killing their brothers,” said Ms Gabriela Kamakian, a 35-year-old lawyer.

“Artsakh… will always belong to the Armenians, we have lived in this region for more than 3,000 years,” she said.

The march attracted a mostly young crowd, with demonstrators playing traditional Armenian music and performing folk dances.

They gathered in front of the embassy of Turkey, which has been accused of military support for Azerbaijan in the conflict. Ankara denies the charge.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s separatist government is strongly backed by Armenia, which like Azerbaijan gained independence with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Argentina’s Armenian community is estimated at 100,000 people, most of whom are third- or fourth-generation.

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