LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Several hundred demonstrators turned out in West Los Angeles today for a march organized by The Armenian Youth Federation over the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The protest made its way from the Wilshire Federal Building at 11000 Wilshire Blvd. to the Azerbaijani Consulate General offices at 11766 Wilshire Blvd., just west of Barrington Avenue, as activists decried recent actions by Azerbaijan and Turkey over the Nagorno-Karabakh region -- also referred to as Artsakh.
The march ended about 2 p.m., according to Los Angeles police. "I would estimate there were between 400 and 500 people at the demonstration," LAPD Lt. Anthony Ljubetic told City News Service. "I know the expectation was thousands of marchers but that didn't happen."
Ljubetic also said the march was completely peaceful. There were no arrests and no incidents to report, he said.
The youth organization was on the sixth day of a hunger strike, according to Alex Galitsky, a spokesperson for the Armenian National Committee of America's Western Region, who cited recent military action in Stepanakert as evidence of the need to raise awareness about the conflict, centered on the sovereignty of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
"Evidence of Turkey and Azerbaijan's mobilization had been reported for weeks prior to this latest act of belligerency, with Azerbaijan mobilizing reservists, commandeering civilian vehicles for military use, and Turkey's contracting and transporting of Syrian mercenaries to Azerbaijan," he said. "The carefully coordinated nature of the assault contradicts Azerbaijan's claims that it was retaliating to alleged Armenian aggression."
Azerbaijan has accused pro-Armenian fighters of also breaking a negotiated ceasefire. Elgun Mehdiyev, press officer at the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, said 91 Azerbaijani civilians, including 12 infants and children, have been killed and over 400 severely injured "as a result of Armenia's deliberate attacks on civilian population."
Diplomats from France, Russia and the U.S. are seeking to restore the ceasefire, and organizers of Sunday's event were hoping to use the power of the world's third-largest Armenian diaspora to rally support for their side as talks continue.
Azerbaijani officials believe the Nagorno-Karabakh region has been illegally occupied and do not want Armenians in control, while Armenian authorities say the people there have previously asked to be governed by its authority, and bristle at Turkey's involvement, considering the country continues to deny that an Armenian genocide occurred during World War I.