Students Rally Behind Armenian Students’ Association In Condemning Azerbaijan Attack Against Artsakh


In light of the volatile and potentially catastrophic situation in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh (referred to by Armenians as Artsakh), several student organizations and individuals in the Colgate community have made online declarations of support for the Armenian Students’ Association (ASA). The Colgate College Democrats (CCD), the Colgate Students Coalition (CSC) and Sisters of the Round Table (SORT) have taken to social media platforms to show solidarity for the Armenian students and those affected by the violence in the Armenian State of Artsakh. In Instagram posts made Tuesday, Sept. 29, the CCD and the CSC both stated that they stand by ASA’s “condemnation of the violent, unprovoked attacks by Azerbaijan against the independent Republics of Artsakh and Armenia.”

ASA President junior Ani Arzoumanian expressed specific appreciation for the statement put forth by the CCD. However, she remains weary of the “performative activist,” and the common misconception that a post on social media is the full extent of modern political activism. 

 “The Colgate College Democrats have done an excellent job researching the situation on their own and fully supporting the Armenian Students’ Association,” Arzoumanian said. “It doesn’t just end with one post. We need to fight the informational war going on by spreading the truth and the facts to everyone we know.” 

Arzoumanian recently founded ASA United, a coalition of undergraduate Armenian student associations encompassing thousands of Armenian-American students. Through this platform, which primarily connects students through social media, Arzoumanian strives to amplify her campaigns to spread awareness and battle online misinformation.

Both Arzoumanian and President of College Democrats junior Reed Cleland mentioned the recent rise in social media activism in its connection to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Arzoumanian and Cleland explained that social media, when used effectively, is a tool for motivating, connecting and informing people “with the push of a button.” 

Cleland assigned the writing of the CCD statement to Party Secretary senior Alben Leonard after ASA reached out to ask for support. As an organization that stands for and promotes democracy, Cleland and the CCD hope to raise awareness on behalf of the Armenian community on Colgate’s campus.

I take great pride in the fact that the Colgate Democrats listen when students voice their needs,” Cleland said. “We are always happy to use our extensive network for the benefit of our fellow student organizations. We’ve invested a lot of time into building our campus infrastructure, and we are happy to provide it in service to other groups.” 

ASA Vice President senior Mariam Grigoryan, an international student from Armenia, feels deeply affected by the recent attacks.

My heart aches for my relatives and everyone [in Artsakh] right now, bearing the brunt of this war. My cousin is on the front lines, and we can’t even get in touch with him or the rest of our family because the phone lines are down due to Azerbaijani shelling,” Grigoryan said. 

Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in Humanities and Professor of English Peter Balakian have written several books on the Armenian Genocide. He explains the long-standing conflict in this region in the context of over a century of oppression and genocide of the Armenian people by Azerbaijan and Turkey, as well as the Soviet Union before Armenian independence in 1992.  

“Armenia has weathered many hardships and has been able to emerge as a solid democracy. The Armenian story is one of overcoming extraordinary obstacles and now faced with Azeri and Turkish military assault, once more the sense of crisis is high — and the trauma the Armenian community in the diaspora as well as in Armenia and Artsakh experiences is acute,” Balakian said. 

According to Balakian, diplomatic redress is essential, as is the continued support from Colgate student organizations.

“The Colgate Armenian Club is an important forum and voice for continued information and activism. The public should know that Armenia is a vital democracy in the Caucasus region and the nation of Artsakh is an example of post-Soviet self-determination in the tradition of Wilsonian ideals,” Balakian said. 

Professor Balakian is not alone as he calls for educating the global community. Arzoumanian has been distributing a call to action in support of the Armenian community to organizations across campus, providing a history of the atrocities that plague the border between these two countries, all of which target civilian villages and violate cease-fire and international law. The misinformation campaign orchestrated by the Azerbaijani government accuses Armenians of starting the war, while international news outlets misconstrue the conflict as two-sided in an effort to remain neutral. 

Arzoumanian is hopeful that by spreading the truth and raising awareness for the already deadly situation in Artsakh, it will force global powers to call out Turkey and Azerbaijan for their crimes against the Armenian people, and thereby further ensure their survival. 

“Our people have been the targets of mass murder and discrimination by the same peoples for hundreds of years. We have been victims for far too long. Help us finally achieve global recognition for the atrocities committed today. It should be a basic human right to be able to exist in the world, to be able to preserve your language, culture [and] religion, without being repeatedly targeted and attacked for it,” Arzoumanian said. 

Grigoryan echoed these sentiments, finding the general lack of knowledge about the conflict both locally within the Colgate Community and globally nothing short of disturbing.

“The situation is disheartening. The fact that non-Armenians don’t care about this is doubly upsetting. Armenians have been begging for help for years, and the world continues to stay quiet. The Armenian people faced genocide 105 years ago, and the world was quiet then, too. No words are accurate enough to describe how the Armenian people feel right now,” said Grigoryan.

On behalf of the Armenian students at Colgate, Arzoumanian has asked the Colgate community to urge representatives to take action, donate to the Armenia Fund to help supply humanitarian aid and share relevant information on social media.