October 12, 2023
For Immediate Release
Contact:  ancaer@anca.org
Tel:  (917) 428-1918

ANCA Eastern Region brings hundreds together at “United for Artsakh” in Boston

BOSTON—Somber emotions mixed with gratitude for community were evident as more than 300 Hai Tahd activists and community leaders gathered together at the ANCA Eastern Region’s 17th annual Awards Program – United for Artsakh – on Saturday, October 7, 2023 at the Royal Sonesta Boston Hotel. Kristina Ayanian, a finance industry professional who is the executive producer and host of Nasdaq Listings “Live from MarketSite” and Miss Universe Armenia 2022, presided over the evening which featured a silent auction, dinner and program that cast a spotlight on the recent loss of lives and land in Artsakh.

During the evening, the region honored several deserving individuals, including Representative Katherine Clark with the ANCA Eastern Region Freedom Award; longtime ANC of Eastern Massachusetts and ANC of Merrimack Valley activists Barkev Kaligian and Joseph Dagdigian with the ANCA Eastern Region Vahan Cardashian Award; beloved longstanding principal of St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School Digin Houry Boyamian with the inaugural Excellence in Education Award; Michael Rubin, Ph.D. with the inaugural Advocacy Award; and ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship Fellows Olivia Abajian, Vahagn Boudakian, Tsoline Gevorkian, Emma Lopez, Nver Saghatelyan and Ruby Topalian.

ANC of Eastern Massachusetts activist and “United for Artsakh” committee member Ani Zargarian began the evening with heartfelt and soulful renditions of the Artsakh, Armenian and American national anthems, followed by the invocation by Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian of St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church. Prior to her opening remarks, Ayanian invited all to stand for a moment of silence in solidarity with the victims of the latest attack on Artsakh – the 120,000 Armenians of Artsakh who were blockaded for more than nine months, forcibly removed from their homes and ethnically cleansed from their indigenous homeland.

A poignant highlight of the evening was a special visual presentation prepared by Narek Sahakian to honor the memory of the martyrs and the resilience of the people of Artsakh, set to Gomidas’ Andouni performed by renowned opera singer Isabel Bayrakdarian. As Bayrakdarian’s soaring soprano filled the room, attendees viewed images direct from Artsakh as well as the current relief efforts underway by the region and the Armenian Relief Society (ARS).

“Tonight, we gather as supporters of the Armenian National Committee of America [ANCA] Eastern Region,” Ayanian said, “but also as guardians of a legacy and as voices for those who were silenced.” She reminded those gathered that the Armenian struggle continues as “Azerbaijan and Turkey continue to commit genocide against the Armenian people” more than 100 years after the 1915 Genocide. “Artsakh is more than just geography; it is the very soul of our identity,” Ayanian continued. “It is a dark chapter in our history, one where the actions of Azerbaijan have not only robbed us of our land but have also committed acts that history cannot ignore – a genocide that stains the conscience of humanity.” While there are feelings of hopelessness, Ayanian stressed that remaining united in Hai Tahd – our common cause of a free, united and independent Armenia – is imperative. “We come together today, at the ANCA Eastern Region Awards Program under the theme ‘United for Artsakh.’ The strength we find in our unity is our most powerful weapon against the forces that seek to erase our identity,” Ayanian said.

ANCA Eastern Region Board chair Dr. Ara Chalian provided a regional update, including an overview of the work of the region’s 31 states and 34 local ANCs. Dr. Chalian highlighted the advocacy work the region’s activists, local committees and leaders have done toward ensuring the safety and security of Artsakh and its citizens, including securing friendship city resolutions with cities in Artsakh, calling for sanctions against Azerbaijan and its leaders and for enforcement of section 907 restrictions on military aid to Azerbaijan.

“The genocidal attacks, blockade and removal march of the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh is a crime,” Dr. Chalian said. “Voices may not be heard in the lands of the Republic of Artsakh, but the actions and advocacy of the ANCA and its Eastern Region remain strong and committed for the rights of our people.”