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Amid war, Queens’
community fi nds strength
BY GOHAR CHICHIAN
Hailed as the “World’s Borough,” one of the beauties of
growing up in Queens has been the exposure to over 160
languages and cultures.
Did you know that Queens
is home to over 50,000
Armenians? Armenia is a
land-locked country bordered
by Turkey, Georgia,
the independent Republic of
Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh),
Azerbaijan and Iran.
In 2018, the corner of 210th
Street and Horace Harding
Expressway was renamed
“Armenia Way” to commemorate
the contributions of the Armenian community in
Bayside, where the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs
serves as a cultural center for the community.
And now, the community has come together again for
much darker times. On Sept. 27, Armenian-Americans
woke up to a war. Azerbaijan, with the military assistance
of Turkey, executed a premeditated attack on the Republic
of Artsakh, including the civilian capital of Stepanakert.
Ethnic Armenians have lived in Artsakh for over 3,000
Eyewitness reports and photographs have confi rmed the
presence of Syrian and Libyan mercenaries, recruited by
Turkey, as well as Turkish military weapons and warplanes
sent to attack civilians in Artsakh. Th e targeting of civilian
infrastructure — schools, churches, hospitals — and
blatant violation of international human rights has led to
an international outcry over the war crimes of Azerbaijan
and Turkey. On Oct. 10, a temporary humanitarian ceasefi
re was brokered to exchange bodies, but it was violated
by Azerbaijan fi ve minutes in as they expanded their shelling
to towns in Armenia.
As the violence escalates, the Armenian-American
community has rallied together to do what they can for
their families back home. In one week alone, Holy Martyrs
became a daily donation drop-off site as the community
collected medical items, clothing, food and diapers to
send to families in Artsakh and Armenia. Th ey not only
held a rally in front of the UN to demand justice, but
had thousands from the community take to the streets
in a march from NBC News to ABC News on Oct. 10 to
demand fair and accurate media coverage.
For Armenians, this is not a “territorial confl ict” — it
is a very real existential threat. Comparisons are being
drawn to the 1915 Armenian Genocide, when Turkey executed
a mass killing of 1.5 million Armenians. Armenian-
Americans grew up hearing the stories of survival from
their great-grandparents, and now, the threat has reared
its head once again. For many, the past two weeks have
been a living nightmare.
But in that nightmare comes a tragic beauty. Th e diaspora
has come together like never before to donate,
sign petitions, make calls to elected representatives, and
email media outlets to demand justice and immediate
action. Th e diaspora is instrumental to the preservation
As Armenian-American novelist William Saroyan
wrote, “Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it.
Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn
their homes and churches. Th en see if they will not laugh,
sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere
in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.”
In the aft ermath of 1915, Saroyan’s words rang true. I
call on my Queens neighbors to stand with us and lend
their support to our community. Queens is a celebration
of culture — help Armenian-Americans preserve theirs.
BUT WE MUST
New Yorkers should feel a sense of
relief that a federal judge has ruled
the 2020 census count can continue
through Oct. 31 — for now. Th e
decision is being appealed, so we
must mobilize to ensure everyone
we know gets counted today, before
it is too late.
To date, Queens has a 61.5 percent
self-response rate, which is on
par with the 2010 census. But we
can — and must — keep pushing
for everyone to get counted, especially
Th e pandemic has ravaged our
city, especially communities of
color. Billions of dollars in federal
funding for everything from housing
and hospitals, to programming
that supports women and girls, is
on the line.
The census also determines
our congressional representation,
ensuring our voices are heard.
Responding to the census is one
of the easiest and most important
ways to help our community recover
from the health and economic
fallout of COVID-19, and to shape
the future of our city for the next
Higher self-response rates mean
fewer people are likely to be missed
or counted inaccurately, and fewer
households will require a visit from
a census taker. We must all do our
part to ensure a complete count —
the stakes could not be higher.
Carole Wacey, President & CEO
of Women Creating Change
I am very troubled over a number
of seniors being attacked for no reason.
Maybe it’s happening because
some seniors can’t fi ght back.
As reported, a 71-year-old man
named Angel Luis Serrano and his
pet dog named Brownie were allegedly
beaten in the Bronx by area
residents. He was beaten with a bat
and the golf club that Angel carried
More than a week ago, actor Rick
Moranis, who is 67 years old, was
assaulted on Central Park West,
also apparently for no reason.
I’m 71 years old myself and worry
about my safety as I walk my dog
Jack as I also worry about my fellow
Th ese attacks must stop! Seniors
like myself have worked hard all of
our lives, with some — like myself
— having served in the military or
armed forces to protect our great
We deserve to walk our streets
in New York safely. We need more
police patrolling our communities,
not less. Remember, our seniors
have made our country what it is
today. Is our reward to be attacked
as we walk our streets?
Frederick R. Bedell Jr., Bellerose