The Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict: Enough is enough

History can no longer afford to repeat itself as Turkey and Azerbaijan continue to launch attacks on Artsakh and Armenia.

Billboard+in+Armenia

CREDIT: CREATIVE COMMONS

Billboards in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, display footage of the fighting released by the Armenian Ministry of Defense since the beginning of the conflict.

AP

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” the American philosopher George Santayana said, but what about those who cannot even accept the past? What about a country that slaughtered countless innocents in the name of ethnic genocide and still denies it 105 years later?

One month ago, Turkey and Azerbaijan began attacking Armenia again. Though we had the means to defend ourselves this time, it doesn’t change the fact that three million of us are facing 80 million of them.

That number sends a chill down my spine every time I read it but I believe David will always beat Goliath, I just hope we have enough stones.

Three weeks ago the battles became serious and the death toll hasn’t stopped climbing. This is when my family began to worry.

Just months before my cousin had his head shaved and sent off to serve the country. Now, this cousin of mine was raised by a legendary war hero that did things James Bond could brag about. That man was my uncle Gabriel.

At 17 he ran away from home to join the war of the 1990s. He wasn’t old enough to fight so he lied about his age. He became an important asset because he would strategize powerful attacks that obliterated the enemy time and time again.

Turkey was furious and they put a hit out on him. He was shot in the back several times but somehow survived and ran home. He made his mother remove the bullets with a pair of tweezers and ran back into the war.

At one point he was captured by the enemy, along with his friend. He won’t tell us what they did to them except that they shot his friend in front of him. He was freed and he went on to survive the war.

Years later he fell in love, had a son, and named him after his fallen friend. 18 years later that boy is fighting on the front lines.

It was three weeks ago that the enemy attacked my cousin’s station. In light of this news, my uncle ran away from home once again. That was one of the longest nights of my life. We all knew where he had gone. Later that week both of them called home. We were alerted and we were grateful.

A week later the first lady of Armenia visited the military hospitals to visit all the young boys in care. She took several photos and posted them online. This is how we discovered my cousin had been injured. There he was lying in bed, head shaved, eyes closed.

My mother was the one who showed the photos to me. She said that they had already sent him back to battle.

Since then we’ve been in contact with his mother — my aunt — for updates. Amidst the horror and the death, I see something beautiful: a father and son fighting side by side. I can’t pretend I know the special bond that creates. That kind of love is something most of us will never know. It is only born of horrific times, a shared experience so terrifying that only the other person will understand.

My cousin and my uncle are fighting for the same thing as the other soldiers — survival of our race. Every man young and old on that battlefield understands this: If we lose they will run through our cities and villages, kill our men and rape our women. They will set fire to our churches and monuments and they will force us to convert. This is not a hypothetical, it is very real.

Those who cannot learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. Even the citizens of our enemies hate this war and I have no ill will towards them. I just want my family to be safe.