We Are Our Mountains: Armenia’s Desire to Live in Peace

Marvelous Geeks is primarily an entertainment website, but we pride ourselves on inclusivity and fighting alongside the right causes. We spoke about the tragedies that my home, Artsakh faced in July briefly in our “Do the Next Right Thing” article, but we’re now coming to you with a desperation like we’ve never felt before. I’m always willing to fight for TV cancellations. I’m always willing to talk about entertainment, but I’m coming here today to ask that you please help us fight this war by spreading the awareness that we need.

“On Sunday, September 27, 2020, Armenians woke up to news that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces had launched an offensive along the full length of the Line of Contact with Artsakh, including helicopter and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drone assaults as tank units advanced. The operation had begun shortly after 7:00 a.m. local time, according to Major-General Jalal Harutyunyan, Commander of the Artsakh Defense Army.”

When it comes to talking about home, I’ve accepted that words will always fail me. For those who aren’t familiar, my mother is from Artsakh, a part of Armenia that Azerbaijan has claimed as theirs. Some of you might also be unfamiliar with the Armenian Genocide of 1915, an unsurprising tragedy in the United States because much like a lot of genocides, it isn’t featured in our textbooks. In short, the Ottoman Empire, in 1915 attempted the ethnic cleansing of Armenians, but our ancestors survived to tell their stories–to keep our culture alive.

This isn’t going to be a history lesson, I urge you all to do your own research. In the year of 2020 when facts are twisted and manipulated, it’s important that we, as a civilization, learn to trust in the facts that we thoroughly research for ourselves. I will be providing brief context here, but I want you to understand that as Armenians, it’s important for us to make it clear that we don’t want a war. And that is why I believe that instead of us solely giving information on here, when looking it up yourselves, you’ll see that we are not holding on to lies.

Azerbaijan was founded in 1919. Artsakh and Armenia on the other hand, date back to AD. Artsakh was a part of Ancient Armenia, the Urartu region B.C. If we look at the Holy Bible as a historical text for a moment as opposed to a religious one, a 1611 version shows Armenia on the map. (Video). The question would then be why on earth does Azerbaijan believe they have rights to a region that’s been around long before them? How does it make sense? It doesn’t. Simply put, it doesn’t. A simple population google search will also tell you that Turkey’s population is 82 million. Azerbaijan’s population is 10 million. Armenia’s almost 3 million. Artsakh’s 150,000. How could Armenia and Artsakh be the aggressors when we’re remarkably outnumbered? If the Armenian diaspora weren’t willing to help out during the current war, it’s terrifying to think of what more could happen. Our churches, our land–they’re all older than Azerbaijan and they claim to want it to back.

Here’s the reality, friends–history is a long and winding road. There’s a tremendous amount that goes into politics and foreign affairs, but the purpose of this article is to talk about the voices that aren’t often heard. In the same way that we as Americans are residing on Native land that’s been stole, Azerbaijan and Turkey are attempting the same. Kids born in 2002 have died for their country and the numbers continue increasing. This isn’t something we were ever supposed to see in 2020.

Here at Marvelous Geeks, we have always highlighted the characters that have lost everything. We have discussed the importance of truth, the celebration of humanity, and the difficult choices that people have made for others. Where shows like The Good Place will teach us the importance of ethics, and 12 Monkeys will continuously reiterate saving humanity, I’m here, with the desperate cry to ask you all to just be informed about what’s happening in Armenia. We joke about 2020 being the type of show we cannot imagine is granted a renewal, but that should be proof of how awful it really is. It’s messy. It’s pure insanity. It’s destructive. It’s chaos. And for Armenians, we are terrified that it’s close to the end.

If there’s one thing we can do as humans it’s listen to the voices that are begging to be heard. The oppressed, the marginalized, the Indigenous, the victims of domestic/sexual violence, the broken, the confused. The absolute bare minimum is listening and with social media being such a prevalent part of our lives, sharing. But not sharing out of performative activism, but sharing because we’re learning to genuinely be concerned for the human race. We need to be doing all this not to check off points à la The Good Place, but because it is the right thing to do–standing up for those who need us.

At this point, most of you know me as your overdramatic geeky podcast host that’s never shied away from expressing all her media feelings. But this is the part of me that’s most important, the part of me that I want you all to remember. Today, I feel helpless. I feel a sense of indescribable mental and spiritual paralysis because I have the luxury of sitting at home with the air-conditioning on writing an article. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that there’s not much I can do for my country. I’m having a hard time with my words.

My mother is from Artsakh. A little gyugh (village) called Astkhashen/Dashpulagh. (Natural rocks in the shape of stars anyone? I promise I’ll break this incredible gem down one day. The whole thing, it’s unbelievable.) This is something I’ve always been so immensely proud of, but simultaneously scared for. I’ve been scared because everywhere I went as a kid, I was surrounded by grandparents, children playing in the streets, and I’d heard the stories of how these lands were fought for. I’ve seen the broken streets and churches that were never rebuilt. I’ve seen the homes that were once war zones, and all this before I was even 10. When I was there at 16, there was no internet in our little village. Heck, I don’t even remember if there was internet in Yerevan. (And yet, the narrative is that we’re the aggressors. How can we be aggressors when we’re just trying to live? This isn’t about money or military weapons, it’s a fight for peace.)

I’ve been called names I’d rather not repeat, and I’m certain many have borne these crosses, too. But as we’re all learning and fighting towards, Artsakh is Armenia. It’s the most beautiful, most indescribable place I’ve ever been to and it’s why every damn apple I eat anywhere else is such a disappointment. The roads leading to Artsakh used to be an utter nightmare, there’s been significant improvement, but it’s far from safe. The border crisis with Azerbaijan showcases another part of the region’s struggles most obviously. In spite of the ‘94 war, for years people remained quiet regarding Artsakh’s status, their lands, their people, and their struggles.

In spite of the need for preservation, politics overshadowed the people. There’s a lot to unpack here. A lot of damage and a lot of heartbreak. But today, I’m thankful for the united front, it’s not something I thought I’d ever see as a kid. For instance, Turkey’s war isn’t just against us, its government as most of you know by now is silent towards the brutality against their own women, they’ve been the culprits behind the Greek and Assyrian genocides. The recent maliciousness towards Kurds in Israel.

There’s a lot that I appreciate and love about Artsakh, I could write pages and pages about that, but the statues that represent us: “We Are Our Mountains” տատիկ-պապիկ Translation: Grandmother and Father–that’s what gets me. My grandparents were both born in Artsakh, raised in Artsakh, and they passed in Artsakh. They lived through wars, heartaches, and countless turmoils. When I think of them, I think of the summer nights when every corner of Artsakh is full of grandparents sitting outside their homes, under the mulberry trees, laughing through everything. I think of all the grandmothers huddled around making bread together. I think of traditional dishes, our markets, and the work that goes behind our carpets. (These videos are a gorgeous showcase of our culture thanks to Insider’s Caroline Aghajanian!)

It is a representation of our spirits, the little old ladies inside all of us that hold on to our roots with a desperation and pride that’s unmatched to anything else. I think of the fact that our mountains represent the sole, unified desire of our people, which is to peacefully grow old in their lands.

Some people never leave their home because they want to grow with it and those are the very people that are being slaughtered today. (Words I once again never thought I’d say.) The kids who are proud to die for their country because the idea that We Are Our Mountains is etched so deep into our souls that the love we exude is a light that has always strengthened us. It is the profound, unparalleled love our grandparents nurtured us with that’s always burned like an ember and reminded us of the fact that no matter how far we go, their love is our home. It’s that very love we’re fighting to protect, that legacy, and the preservation of the laughter that’ll continue to fill the moments under the mulberry trees.

To help the Armenian community specifically right now, there are a few petitions available that can be signed. This should have never been a political debate. Text PASSAGE to 52-886 to urge the U.S. Representatives to Condemn Azerbaijan’s coordinated offense in Nagorno-Karabakh a Denounce Turkish Interference.

If you have the means are willing to donate, these are some of the most reliable places right now.

If you are willing to share anything on social media, please use the https://helparmenians.carrd.co/. If you want to know more, I’m open to discussing anything over at Twitter: @GissaneSophia

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