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‘A voice for Armenia is a voice for democracy’: Princeton Armenian Society responds to conflict abroad

<h5>Students with Armenian Ambassador to the United States Lilit Makunts</h5>
<h6>The Daily Princetonian Staff</h6>
Students with Armenian Ambassador to the United States Lilit Makunts
The Daily Princetonian Staff

​​The Princeton Armenian Society is working to raise on-campus and national awareness of the recent invasion of the Republic of Armenia by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.

The society aims to provide non-Armenians with credible sources of information on Armenia’s history of conflict, including the Armenian genocide from 1915 to 1923, the attacks on the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the Republic of Artsakh in 2020, and the current crisis which began overnight on Sept. 12 with the Azerbaijani invasion.  

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Over the course of the past year, the Princeton Armenian Society, led by co-presidents Katerina Hovnanian-Alexanian ’25 and Hayk Yengibaryan ’26, has been taking steps to raise awareness of the injustices against the Armenian community. In March, the Princeton Armenian Society invited the Armenian Ambassador to the United States, Lilit Makunts, to campus to discuss the obstacles facing Armenia’s democratic regime.

Yengibaryan is a sports contributor for The Daily Princetonian.

“We are obligated as Armenians to do everything in our power to help our country. I personally have family members in Armenia and childhood friends who are at the frontlines defending our country,” Yengibaryan wrote in a text message to the ‘Prince.’

“This past week, I’ve dedicated over 40 hours to advocating for Armenia, including long nights with little sleep,” he added. “If our soldiers and servicemen and women can stay up all night defending our homeland, I can stay up to fight for my people. It becomes extremely hard for all Armenian-Americans to concentrate on their day-to-day life when this is happening.” 

The society is currently working with Armenian student organizations from universities across the United States, including Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Brown, UCLA, the University of Chicago, Stanford, and Columbia. 

This cross-college collaboration started in an Instagram chat created by Hovnanian-Alexanian with a few friends. Hovnanian-Alexanian and Yengibaryan then started reaching out to members of the Armenian Student Associations of various colleges. This group chat grew in what she says was “a matter of minutes” as more people were added. Ultimately, over 100 college students joined the chat and collaborated on an open letter. 

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On Sept. 20, the Princeton Armenian Society posted the letter and a list of resources online, enlisting the support of the Princeton community. 

“We urge our peers and educators to join us in condemning Azerbaijan’s assault on humanity and stand in solidarity with the Armenian people against authoritarianism,” the letter reads. “We challenge you to show the world that the American scholarly community does not accept these threats to democracy, diplomacy, and human rights.” 

The effort proved its effect further than on-campus, with news of the collaboration reaching Armenian singer Serj Tankian, who reposted the open letter, and Rex Kalamian, the Armenian-American NBA assistant coach, who added his signature. The collaboration also reached news outlets run by Armenians.

The open letter has collected at least 1000 signatures in 24 hours. But less than 50 of those are from the Princeton community.

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The Princeton Armenian Society is urging students and faculty to join efforts in spreading the word. 

“The voice of the youth plays a central role in the efforts to raise awareness of the events in Armenia,” Yengibaryan told the ‘Prince.’ “We rely on the voices of the youth because this generation is the future of the diaspora. The students in our top universities today are going to go on to lead our country and have a voice in Congress and important matters.”

Rebecca Cho is a first-year from Long Island, New York and a News Staff Writer for the ‘Prince’. She can be reached at rc5928@princeton.edu. 

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