The Year In Which The Whole World Let A Nation Down

by Daniel Ayik

You think your 2020 was bad? Armenians lived through every bit of what you did. The only difference is that you didn’t suffer at the hands of terrorists that killed innocent civilians and overtook our ancestral land. For Armenians, the pandemic was the least of our concerns. While everyone else was worried about when they would resume their local sport team practices, or be able to dine inside restaurants again, Armenians were fighting for the lives of their families as well as the legacy of their ancestors. In late September, Azerbaijan broke a ceasefire and started to shell many small villages in Artsakh, which has been ethnic Armenian land for two thousand years. As of November 9, 2020 a resolution was signed which stated that the land of Artsakh shall now be recognized as Azerbaijan. Armenians in those areas (those that are still alive) have become displaced from their own homes. Time and time again, history has shown us that ethnic cleansing begins when the native army troops retreat from the area, allowing the opposing army to carry out mass murders. We are seeing this unfold before our eyes today. However, ethnic cleansing relies primarily on one thing – apathy. The message from the international community is clear to Armenians: If you can offer money, you can do whatever you want and the whole world will turn a blind eye. Our civilians were bombed, soldiers were beheaded, churches and hospitals were demolished, statues were destroyed, forests were set on fire, and thousands were killed. A whole new generation of Armenians were killed, but nobody stood for us because all we have is history and culture, and that’s not something we can export. The other day, I saw a photo on Instagram. On the left, there was an image from 1915 of Armenians being exiled from their country during the genocide. On the right, there was an image from 2020 of Armenians being exiled from their country. A century has passed, yet nothing has changed. Armenia is a landlocked country of 3 million people fighting 3 countries that total to over 110 million. While we were fighting by ourselves and only ourselves, Azerbaijan was getting an extreme amount of support from Turkey, Pakistan, and Syrian mercenaries. The international community stayed completely idle during this conflict and cries for help by the Armenian diaspora around the world went unheard. Even worse, the Israeli grandchildren of those that endured the horrors of the Holocaust are now supporting nations with the same evil intentions.

I have the freedom to wake up every morning, eat cereal, go to school, watch TV, take hot showers, and sleep under a roof without a worry in mind about survival. I thank God I live in Canada. I’m lucky I have peace and safety in this welcoming country. However, for my brothers and sisters living in Armenia and Artsakh my life is a fairytale – an impossible reality. Luck for them means:

  • Waking up in the morning
  • Surviving the shelling one more night
  • Having food and medical supplies sent over
  • Knowing their family members are still alive
  • Being able to walk the next day
  • For my brothers and sisters in Artsakh, luck means having a home to return to. 

Armenians around the world will never forget you, the courage of 16-18 year olds fighting for their lives, the resilience of a nation that is re-living the atrocities they endured a century ago.

As being one of 3 Armenian students at the Upper School, it is my duty to share this with you. We are constantly reminded about the crimes committed towards the Jews during the Holocaust or the residential schools in Canada. However, awareness is meaningless if it is not met with action. More than that, our school is starting to sound like a broken record. We hear about the same issues each year and nothing new is brought to our attention. It is not that humans stopped suffering. If there is anything you should take away from this article, it is the opposite. We have stopped caring. We have become apathetic. Even issues such as the SARS epidemic in Nigeria or the detainment of Chinese muslims are never spoken about at UCC. It is time we started educating ourselves. It is time we started to care again. We can not broadcast our school as a leading private institution where boys learn to become global citizens, yet remain in a state of apathy. Armenians around the world will never forget. We will never forget the silence of our ‘friends’, we will never forget the silence of the international community watching the first ever Christian nation attacked by those who intend to eradicate it. Elie Wiesel (Holocaust Survivor) said, “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” If you are reading this, please end the silence!