San Mateo County woman can't get daughter's memorial fund donations to Nagorno-Karabagh due to humanitarian crisis


SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Anush Harutyunova’s life was claimed by cancer five years ago.

The Cupertino High graduate was a dedicated dancer, so her mother, Anahit Tarkhanyan, established a memorial fund in her honor to help other students learn the art form halfway around the world.

But for the last 45 days, they have not been able to get any donations to the Stepanakert Choreography College in the region of Nagorno-Karabagh, also known as Astsakh, because of an ongoing blockade.

“It is very devastating you know you are trying to help somehow you are trying to bring back the normal you know to dance, to move,’ Tarkhanya said. “Afterall, it is very healing. Art is always against the oppression.”

After a war in Artsakh in 2020, many Armenians fled the part of the area taken over by Azrbaijan.

Gev Iskajyan with the Armenia National Committee of America flew there from California weeks ago in anticipation of more turmoil.

Iskajyan said for more than a month, the Lachin Corridor, which is the only road in and out of the area, has been blocked by an Azeri group under the guise of an environmental protest of a precious metals mine. So, 120,000 Armenians have been restricted from coming and going and power has been cut off.

“This has affected just about every layer of society here,” Iskajyan told KRON4 over spotty internet. “When you walk through the stores and see the shelves, it`s essentially all empty. The government has been rationing food supplies. So, there is both a food shortage and a medicine shortage since the only road that leads in and out of Artsakh is closed. We can`t bring any necessities that the population here needs to survive.”

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D), who represents to district in which Tarkhanyan lives, recently visited Armenia as part of a congressional delegation last fall led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She is calling on the Biden Administration to impose sanctions on Azerbaijan to end this humanitarian crisis.

“I believe that the United States of America needs to stand tall and apply necessary pressures to make that government understand that as a democracy we do not tolerate this along with our European allies,’ Eshoo said.

As the residents of Artsakh await their fate, they’re doing what they can to live with grace. And for these young people, they’re coping with the struggle through dance.

A conversation was hosted in San Francisco Wednesday by the non-partisan forum World Affairs in which panelists called this a genocide. East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee was in virtual attendance.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken is urging Azerbaijan’s president Aliyev to immediately restore traffic in the Lachin Corridor, saying the U.S. is committed to supporting peace in the region.



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