SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Armenian National Committee of Rhode Island (ANC-RI) welcomed the establishment of its third Friendship City this year between Smithfield and Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh. The Friendship City was established at a Smithfield, Rhode Island Town Council meeting on Tuesday, August 8.
ANC-RI leadership, including Stephen Elmasian, George Mangalo and Rhode Island State Senator David Tikoian, led the charge in securing the Friendship City with Smithfield Town Council President T. Michael Lawton.
“Being so far from Artsakh and the Caucasus doesn’t mean that we still can’t voice our cause and our fight for Artsakh’s freedom and right to self-determination. As long as this unjust and immoral crime against humanity – the blockade – continues, rest assured, the ANC of Rhode Island will not cease in its fight to restore dignity and life to the people of Artsakh. We welcome the Town Council of Smithfield’s support and decision to stand on the right side of history as we battle for the voiceless, no matter how many thousands of miles apart Artsakh and Smithfield are,” Sen. Tikoian said.
Smithfield, a town north of Providence, is home to a quaint Armenian American community, as well as to Sen. Tikoian. Smithfield’s dedication to Armenian Americans runs deep – the town flies the Armenian flag every April 24 in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
“As we welcome another Friendship City between Rhode Island and our compatriots in Artsakh, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of our supporters in this initiative. Every Friendship City agreement that we establish on a local level echoes forever throughout the region, as we create more incentive, highlighting the true power of grassroots activism. With each forthcoming agreement, we hope to raise our voices louder throughout the Eastern Region simultaneously as our activists continue to draw greater attention to this ongoing genocide in Artsakh,” said ANC-RI co-chair Elmasian.
Stepanakert has been under attack since 2020, and most recently, the people of Stepanakert have been living in dire conditions due to Azerbaijan’s deadly blockade, which has gone on for over 240 days. The ongoing blockade has limited life-supporting essentials such as food, medicine and electricity, igniting a humanitarian crisis of magnanimous proportions.
Friendship Cities with Artsakh have been established in the Eastern Region between Granite City, Illinois, and Ashan, Republic of Artsakh; Cranston, Rhode Island, and Stepanakert, Republic of Artsakh; North Providence, Rhode Island and Jardar, Republic of Artsakh; and now, Smithfield, Rhode Island and Stepanakert, Republic of Artsakh.