On December 1, the Armenian Consul General and members of the Armenian community met with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to discuss the community-wide controversy caused by images of members of the Sheriff’s Department at a Pakistani Council event in Los Angeles with the Turkish & Azerbaijani Consuls General.
The article is a ZARTONK Media Exclusive
First, let’s start with the event that cause the controversy.
On November 17, 2021, the Council of Pakistan held a board meeting with Nasimi Aghayev, Consul General of Azerbaijan, and Can Oguz, Consul General of Turkey, as invited guests. Several law enforcement officers from Los Angeles were invited to attend the event, which was led by Council of Pakistan President, Adnan Khan.
The event consisted of introductions from each attendee, a dinner, and a discussion of the security threat in Los Angeles subsequent to the Taliban’s recent take-over if Afghanistan. Aghayev then did the bidding of his Dictator by screening a short film produced by their Consulate titled “Cultural Genocide in the Caucasus: The worst cultural genocide of the 21st century,” which is full of false information. This was followed by a short discussion of which the law enforcement officials present did not participate in.
Aghayev highlighted the strong “brotherhood” between Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkey, and their respective communities in Los Angeles.
This “brotherhood” is forged in Armenophobia, racism, bigotry, genocide denial and continued ambitions of ethnic cleansing.
To note, neither Turkey nor Azerbaijan recognize the Armenian Genocide and Pakistan is the only country in the world who fails to recognize Armenia as a sovereign state.
Aghayev thanked both the Turkish & Pakistani communities for their vocal support to “Azerbaijan’s Patriotic War last year, the liberation of its territories from Armenia’s 30-year long barbaric occupation and the restoration of justice.” The law enforcement officials present did not participate during this part of the event.
Following the Pakistani Council event, Turkish & Azerbaijani social media accounts seized upon the opportunity and attempted to portray the law enforcement officials present as being participants in the political discussion. This was a strategy to mislead the public, particularly the Armenian community, and the nature of the event and the intent of the police officials who attended.
Damage has already been done – these the Turkish and Azerbaijani Consuls have used the meeting to amplify their hateful messaging and attack the Armenian community of Los Angeles. To help undo the damage, the Sheriff’s Department held a meeting with members of the Armenian community and the Armenian Consul General Armen Baibourtian. The Sheriff assured that he absolutely supports the Armenian community, as well as all other communities in Los Angeles County. He has established strict edicts since the beginning of his tenure as Sheriff, prohibiting his staff from attending political events.
The Sheriff’s Department has acknowledged the harm the event has caused to the Armenian community through legitimizing the agents of governments engaged in the incitement of anti-Armenian hatred, and should commit itself to combating the incitement anti-Armenian hate wherever it occurs (including state-sponsored hate).
Villanueva has attended numerous Armenian culture events in Los Angeles, supporting and engaging with Armenians over concerns specific to their communities, and has provided solutions. With this much time and energy devoted to the Armenian community, his motives should be very clear. He said that he will not intentionally jeopardize the relationship and the trust of the Armenians who have supported him.
It was very evident that this controversy was an attempt to damage this relationship.
Villanueva explained the role of the Sheriff’s Department was only community outreach. Law enforcement officers only attended to address concerns in the Los Angeles community. The Department was not aware that the Consuls General from Turkey and Azerbaijan would be in attendance to discuss political topics. Otherwise, the Sheriff would absolutely not have allowed the attendance of his staff. Villanueva does not allow political engagement.
Police are ethically bound to engage with all members of the public. This is an expectation held of all United States residents. This is a fundamental strategy (which is especially critical to Los Angeles, having such a diverse population) to bring more understanding to the with communities of differing cultures, and language. Attending cultural events that involve Consuls General is a means to intrinsically understanding these diverse cultures. It is essential in these meetings, however, that politics are not involved.
Villanueva has made public engagement with all cultures one of his primary policing principles since he took office. Immigrants who come from a culture of corrupt governments and police, who used to fear law enforcement, are beginning to trust sheriff deputies. This is a critically important element to keeping the community safe. People who fear the police will not volunteer as witnesses to crimes or report crimes, allowing criminals more opportunity to prey on other members of the public.
Turkey, Azerbaijan & Pakistan, A “Brotherhood” of Hate & Lies.
Meeting with these consuls general legitimizes their hateful rhetoric, these are representatives of authoritarian governments, engaged in the persecution of Armenians and other minority communities. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department should be engaged in protecting the 500,000-strong Los Angeles Armenian community from the incitement of hatred propagated by these consuls general, not granting credibility to these offices by meeting with them.
Pakistani Council President Adnan Khan said: “Pakistan, Turkey and Azerbaijan are three nations who have bonded to become one as brothers,” adding that “Since the early 1990s, the Armenian army has committed a genocide against Azerbaijani people. The people of Pakistan demand justice for Azerbaijan. The destruction of houses of worship, the destruction of cities committed by the Armenian army has to be addressed, and the Armenian government has to be held accountable. The United Nations cannot sit silent.”
Turkey’s Consul General Can Oguz, Azerbaijani Consul General Nasimi Aghayev, and Pakistani Council President Adnan Khan are fervent deniers of the Armenian Genocide and have taken wrong side, choosing hate, violence, Genocide and ethnic cleansing.
At the event, Turkey’s Consul General Can Oguz thanked the law enforcement for their selfless efforts for the safety and security of all minority groups, while disregarding the hate crimes aimed at Armenians in Los Angeles and San Francisco over the course of the last few years, including the vandalism at Ferrahian, AGBU, and KZV Armenian schools and attacks of St. Gregory and St. Peter emboldened and enabled by the inflammatory rhetoric espoused by the Turkish and Azeri administration’s and the international community’s failure to hold the two regimes accountable.