Dozens gather to pray for Armenia in Downtown Fresno amid regional tensions

Gabe Ferris Image
Monday, September 25, 2023
Dozens gather to pray for Armenia in Downtown Fresno amid regional tensions
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Dozens gathered in Downtown Fresno this morning to pray for Armenians caught in conflict in Azerbaijan.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Dozens of others gathered in downtown Fresno Sunday morning to raise awareness for Armenians in Azerbaijan -- after conflict in the region flared last week.

Sunday's event was at the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, where they prayed for Armenians in Artsakh.

"We also are suffering as Armenian people because our brothers and sisters in Artsakh are facing a second genocide," Reverend Ashod Khachadourian said.

There's long been conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan -- about 120,000 ethnic Armenians live in a mountainous region formally considered part of Azerbaijan called Nagorno-Karabakh.

Last Tuesday, tensions seemingly hit a breaking point when Azerbaijan targeted the Armenians in that region with deadly force.

"This is a historic Armenian territory. One of the very first Armenian churches and one of the very first Armenian schools was created on this territory, and so our hearts are heavy," Armenian-american Sevag Tateosian said.

The tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia hits close to home for thousands in Fresno. The Central Valley is home to nearly 50,000 Armenian-Americans.

Berj Apkarian is the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno -- and he's on a medical mission trip to Armenia.

He spoke with Action News about his experience in Armenia, about a hundred miles from the conflict in Artsakh.

"People expressing their frustration and their support and solidarity to over 120,000 Armenians who live in Nagorno-Karabakh or Artsakh region," Apkarian said.

As tensions heat up, U.S. Representative Jim Costa is now calling on Congress to hold a hearing on the latest developments in the region.

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