World Events

Hundreds protest outside L.A. Times over Armenian conflict coverage

Hundreds of protesters blocked streets near the Los Angeles Times headquarters in El Segundo on Tuesday evening, the latest in a series of demonstrations by Armenians over the deadly conflict in the southern Caucasus region known as Nagorno-Karabakh and referred to as Artsakh by Armenians.

The protesters shut down Imperial Highway and Douglas Street about 6 p.m. Tuesday, with some chanting, “Shame on the L.A. Times.”

One called out The Times for its lack of empathy toward the Armenian people and for “publishing disinformation.”

At issue is an article published by The Times on Monday about a weekend protest by Armenian Americans.

The article quoted Armenian activists at length but also included a comment from Nasimi Aghayev, the consul general of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles.

He said: “The racist and white supremacist propaganda promoted by Armenia and their allies, with which they intend to cash in on the already divisive environment and Islamophobic prejudices, must be condemned by everyone who believe that such dangerous bigotry and intolerance have no place in Europe, U.S. or anywhere else.”

The quote outraged some.

“The tone of the conversation in that article was shocking and unacceptable,” said Burbank resident, UCLA junior and protester Nshan Blikian, 19. “How was that allowed by the editors?”

The Times has received a protest letter from the Armenian National Assn.

Aghayev’s quote also raised concerns from Alex Galitsky, communications director for the Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region.

“I understand the need to try to find an Azerbaijani perspective, but this is a man who has openly expressed anti-Armenian rhetoric and hatred against us time and again,” Galitsky said.

Blikian was also disappointed in the reporting by The Times in protest coverage over the weekend that described “500 participants” at a Hollywood rally. He said the number was much higher.

On Saturday and Sunday evenings, demonstrators rallied in front of the CNN building in Hollywood to demand more accurate news coverage of the events overseas. Activists also blocked traffic on sections of the 101 and 170 freeways over the weekend.

On Monday, a group of elected officials called on the Trump administration to intervene diplomatically in the conflict at a gathering at City Hall that included comments from the mayor and U.S. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank).

Representatives from Los Angeles, Sacramento and Washington blame Azerbaijan and nearby Turkey, which supports the country, for inciting the violence that began Sept. 27 in the Nagorno-Karabakh region — referred by Armenians as the Republic of Artsakh. The area is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but its population of about 150,000 is majority ethnic Armenian and historically Armenian. Azerbaijan’s leaders maintain they have responded to incursions by the other side.

“As Armenians, we care very deeply about this part of the world, and we care very deeply about the slaughter of Armenian people,” Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian said recently on the steps of City Hall. With the conflict now heading into a second week, there’s fear the infighting could spark an all-out war, with the potential to draw in superpowers such as Russia and Turkey.

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