05/14/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Could it be that a second genocide at the hands of Turkey is on the horizon?
A continuation of Jeff King’s conversation with two ICC analysts on the Armenia, Turkey, and Nagorno-Karabakh situation. Because of the genocide in 1915, many Armenians had to leave their homelands. By circumstance, a lot of them ended up settling in the U.S. As a result of the current conflict, there has been an increase in hate crimes against Armenians, not only in Armenia, but in Turkey and even in the U.S. To add to that, the leader of Turkey, Erdogan’s ambitions to reignite the Ottoman empire are very concerning to everyone in the region.
Jeff King: Everybody, well, welcome back to In The Deep. We had an amazing conversation last week, and part one of the conversation on Armenia and Turkey and Nagorno-Karabakh, complicated situation. If you want a primer on Turkey, you’ve got to watch that, and we’re going to continue that. So here comes part two. And guys, and by the way we have Andrew and Claire, two of our analysts, one on the advocacy side, one on the field side, with us today. Extremely knowledgeable. These people are truly experts, and it’s an honor to have them and just to tap into their brain. I know my life and my geopolitical sense gets so deepened by listening to you guys and learning from you. So thanks for being here guys. And Claire is off camera by the way. So you’re looking at Andrew, but Claire is off camera and because she does field work, we can’t show her face. I didn’t explain that in part one, but that’s what’s going on. Andrew, you’re already ruined. You’re out there publicly-
Andrew Crane: Yeah, I’m out there. I’ve been out there a lot on this issue, so there’s no hiding anymore.
Jeff King: Yeah. Anyways, we’re getting your flight ready to Istanbul and then onto Nagorno-Karabakh. So, you can do your onsite investigations, but that’s another subject matter. Hey, I wanted to circle back. We were laying the groundwork for a lot of things last time because this is … We were just getting ready for this part two and talking folks. And it’s a complicated situation. Turkey is so nuanced which is why it’s fascinating. But we laid out a lot of definitions. So we were talking about genocide, we were talking about Erdogan, Ottoman empire, just laying the groundwork to understand it and to get the whole idea of this thing. But there was a couple that I want to follow up and ask you about. So, for real Turkey watchers, they know a couple of terms. I want to throw these out to people. For either of you guys, Claire or Andrew, talk to me, what is the red apple?
Claire Evans: The red apple is … Turks, they love mythology. A lot of the things that they do stems from mythology, and the red apple is part of that. It basically, whenever you hear them talk about Red Apple, it means we’re doing Islamic expansionism. We’re going out to conquest new territories in the name of Islam. And they typically do this red apple imagery right before they go invade another country, which is what we saw last year. It began with the conversion of Hagia Sophia. They started talking about the red apple. And then the next thing you know, they’re invading Nagorno-Karabakh. It’s a mythical language to keep an eye out for when you see it, you know something’s coming.
Jeff King: Okay. And so give us the reference, where’s the original mythology, where does it come from?
Claire Evans: Well, the myth is that when the Turks originally conquered, Constantinople at the time, now Istanbul, they went to Hagia Sophia which was a church. And there was a statue in front of the church which had the emperor, a former Christian emperor, holding a red apple in his hand. So when they conquered Constantinople, when they conquered Hagia Sophia, they took the red apple out of his hand. And so that just became the myth. Every time we take something from the Christians, we’re taking the red apple.
Jeff King: Okay. Boy, that’s excellent. And then, Claire, how is it used? You’re saying you start seeing it. It’s coming out where, it’s coming out in the press and journalists, what’s the signal?
Claire Evans: Well, I think the most obvious example of that from last year is that Turkey’s director of communications released I think it was a four minute long video literally called the red apple. It was all about how they converted Hagia Sophia, and all this was Ottoman empire, Islamic imagery and how having done that, then they showed all of their troops going forth to conquer new lands. It’s pretty obvious.
Jeff King: These are subtle people we’re dealing with, it’s fair to say, I think.
Claire Evans: Incredibly subtle.
Jeff King: Wow. The Grey Wolves, tell me about the Grey Wolves.
Claire Evans: This is basically another old myth from Turkic old days, that they come from a community of grey wolves. This is from central Asia, which is actually the Turks are from central Asia. They’re not originally from Turkey. And so they believe that they come from this lineage of grey wolves, and they now use this grey wolf language to talk about how we want to get back to our roots, which is establishing a Turkic empire. But the difference between how the grey wolf mythology was formed and what it is today is that Islam was invented [inaudible 00:05:01]. And so it has taken on a very Islamic nationalistic venue to it so that when they say we are the grey wolves or we’re promoting the gray wolf ideology, what they’re saying is we’re promoting the Turkic Islamic identity, and we’re going to do everything we can to see that elevated.
And the Grey Wolves have actually, they are … In different parts of Europe, they’re recognized as a terrorist group. And they have been involved in some of the worst religious freedom atrocities in modern day Turkey’s history. But the U.S. hasn’t recognized them yet, so that’s the process. But they are a very large notable force in Turkish politics.
Jeff King: Okay. Okay. And the wolf symbolism speaks to aggression, violence, predatory behavior, working in a pack, so on and so forth?
Andrew Crane: Right. And I also just wanted to emphasize that they … So the Grey Wolves uses as a symbol that looks like this, where they have the two ears. And it’s a very distinguishable symbol. This is a handstand that we’ve seen throughout all of the videos, all of the pictures of all the war crimes going on throughout the recent conflict. They’re very open about their affiliation with this group. And so we can very clearly see the connection between this group and the violence and anti-Armenian Christian sentiment that they feel. so like Claire said, the U.S. hasn’t designated them as a terrorist group. That’s something ICC has been working on. We’ve been advocating to the United States Commission on international religious freedom to designate the Grey Wolves as an entity particular concern in a group like Boko Haram or ISIS, who are already designated as such, because we see the Grey Wolves as that threat to specifically Christians in pursuing their Islamic expansion.
Jeff King: Okay. Excellent guys. Last one is, you’ll hear the gag-rule. We talked about gag-rule about … Sorry, we talk a lot about there being a gag-rule about Armenia and the genocide. Talk to me about that. Andrew, what’s the gag-rule?
Sure. So the gag rule is basically … The U.S. and Turkey have a very delicate alliance, but it is an alliance nonetheless. They’re both NATO allies and they both worked together on both military issues and intelligence sharing. And so the gag-rule is basically every year around when the U.S. would designate as a genocide around April when Armenia remembrance day rolls around, Turkey pretty much always has something that they’re holding over in the U.S.’ head, implicitly saying to the U.S., “Well, if you designate this a genocide, then we’ll do this. We’ll pull out of this military operation that we’re working on together in the Middle East. We’ll pull out this international agreement that the U.S. has been working on.” Just various things like that. Because the U.S. and Turkey do work together on so many issues. And Turkey just has such a long history of a systematic, not only denial, but suppression of information on the genocide. So a power like United States coming out and calling it a genocide just undercuts that so much on their end. So they always try and hold something over the U.S. to prevent them from making that such a designation about it.
Jeff King: That’s excellent. Okay, Andrew, what has ICC been doing on the advocacy front? I know you guys have been working feverishly on this issue and it’s a long-term effort. Break it down for us. Tell us what you’ve been doing.
Andrew Crane: Sure. So ICC has been covering this issue since Azerbaijan and with Turkish invading Nagorno-Karabakh back in September. More specifically on advocacy, so we held an event back in March to brief some members of Congress and other D.C. stakeholders on this issue. Not only presenting the conflict itself but really presenting why we are involved and why we feel that their religious freedom issues involved in this conflict. We are still one of the only non-Armenian groups working on this, and we want to highlight why that is. So for that, other than we brought in a representative of the government of Nagorno-Karabakh to talk about what he and his people have been experiencing, and showing images of destroyed churches and just people’s homes burned down. We also brought in another member of the Armenian community, specifically a U.S advocacy group highlighting their work in D.C. on this and why ICC is united with them on this front. Then we also brought in some other non-Armenians to show what this looks like from a humanitarian aid perspective and why we should be involved.
ICC has also done advocacy with a resolution in the house right now, House Resolution 240, which calls on the government of Azerbaijan to release all of the Armenian POW’s that still holds. Current estimates suggest that Azerbaijan holds around 200, possibly more, prisoners of war in prisons right now who are … They claim that they’re all soldiers, but we have evidence that there are women and children and civilians, very young civilians. As young as in their mid teens, being held in these prisons. They have not allowed the Red Cross in to identify them and they have not been able to release the names of these POWs. So we’ve been trying to get more co-sponsors in U.S. Congress to join on to this resolution to really show that the U.S. government is really committed to this issue, and committed to freeing these Armenian Christian prisoners.
And then one of the last advocacy pushes we’ve also done is we held a petition at ICC’s audience to really educate them on the POW issue that I just mentioned and really joined in at calling the European Court of Human Rights, which is a European body, on them holding Azerbaijan responsible for this injustice that is still going on to this day. To our knowledge, Azerbaijan still holds these prisoners. And not only holds them, but we have evidence that they are abusing them in violation of international law. We’ve really been trying to advocate for the U.S. to take a really major leadership role in this issue.
Jeff King: And did we do a congressional briefing too, did you mention that?
We did, yes. So the event that we did with the representative from Nagorno-Karabakh was a congressional briefing. We invited not only congressional offices, but we invited some state department offices from the Office of International Religious Freedom. Their office attended as well as the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. They also attended to get educated on this issue because this is one of those issues that even the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is still being brought up to speed-
Jeff King: Yeah. It’s complicated.
Andrew Crane: Right. So groups like the State Department Congress and USCIRF turned to us to see what the reality is on the ground and really see why we’ve been engaged on it.
Jeff King: Well, Claire, how about you? I know you’ve done a lot of work on the press side. I’ve watched you for months. You’ve been such a passionate advocate and feverously, and a very dedicated mayor putting one piece out after another on there. Just talk about the press effort and is it getting any traction?
Well, I think this is a very difficult topic to put into the press to begin with because it is still complicated. It’s so nuanced. And a lot of people don’t even know where this location is on a map. And so it’s not just about putting something into the press, you have to educate, and you have to build up a foundation of just the basics of who, what, when, where and why. And that takes time. That takes a lot of time. One of the unfortunate realities though is that Turkey and Azerbaijan make it very easy to put something out in the press. It’s like they can’t help themselves. And they are almost, not almost, they’re definitely gloating in what they do, and they are bragging about it quite openly. And that unfortunately gives us a lot of press material that we have to respond to and react to.
And also a narrative that we have to correct, because if you just continue letting Turkey and Azerbaijan say their own version of events, which are not true at all, and let them be the only voice in the press, and of course, everybody’s going to believe it, it takes nuance to put the message out and to correct those faults there is. And so we’re having to be very aggressive in when we see a type of messaging coming from Turkey and Azerbaijan that denies the genocide, that justifies the abuses that they did, we have to be very quick to get out there and correct that and say, “Actually, no. This is incorrect and this is why.” And we have to have the facts to back it up and the testimonies and the evidence to back it up.
And that’s a huge job because they’re much bigger. Their governments, they have full [inaudible 00:16:49] machines and we have to keep up with that. But we’ve been doing it, and it’s been nice to see in the last few weeks, particularly an increase of media attention on these issues on these topics, where they’re going back and they’re saying, “Okay, maybe we missed it a couple months ago, but what actually happened?” And we’re seeing that being picked up and things like Christianity Today doing articles and looking actually really looking at what is the record here? And so we’re starting to see a positive change in the press.
Jeff King: And you’ve been doing multiple press releases for months. How many months ago did you start on this?
Claire Evans: Well, on the Nagorno-Karabakh, we specifically started in September with the war, but of course we’ve been tracking Turkey and Armenian issues for years now, and seeing how that builds and plays even into what happened with the war. The conflict’s not over. It’s probably going to reignite at some point, unfortunately, and Azerbaijan and Turkey keep breaking the peace still. So there’s a lot of material that they’re just they can’t help themselves. They’re just giving us stuff that has to go out in the press.
Jeff King: Yeah. Well, hats off to you and all your effort. And I know Armenian TV has been playing our stuff constantly. Andrew, you might even be a star on Armenian TV at this point. I think I was on an interview also. But they’re so happy to have a religious freedom team, U.S. organization that’s out there and really banging the drum on this. We feel it. And for most, it’s I think it’s just too difficult. It’s not a big enough issue probably is the way it’s seen. So what were you going to say?
Andrew: Yeah, so our Armenian TV picked up some images from the event that we held, the briefing that we held for Congress. And I think it just emphasizes how having a non-Armenian voice on this issue is really refreshing to a lot of Armenian outlets. Because this is just something that’s not really covered in U.S., let alone all of the West. So, I think it’s always something we really like to emphasize, that we do see that this is a bigger issue than … That’s bigger than just internal Armenian outlets can cover. I think Armenian outlets should be covering this and advocating on behalf of the Armenians
Claire Evans: Also, I would just add, it’s not just the Armenian side who are covering us. We have the Turkish and Azeri side who know very well what we’re doing and they don’t like it. It has been very interesting to see the commentary on the work that we’re doing. And so there is, as you increase the awareness, it does also in some sense increase risk because you’re exposing yourself to the very same of human rights abuses that you’re critiquing. So that is an interesting thing to have to balance as well.
Jeff King: Yeah. And one report ICC put out that you guys were the builders of was the report on this conflict and is the Anatomy of a Genocide. Amazing document, and where can people find that?
Andrew Crane: Sure. That can be found on our website. If you go to the ICC news and reports tab, go to ICC reports, it should be on there. And yeah, we put out that report because we really saw the connections between this past conflict in 2020 and the genocide of 1915. We’re seeing concerning parallels between the two. And it shows that this recent conflict is more than just about territory, which is a narrative that a lot of, especially Turkish and Azeri outlets are [inaudible 00:20:52]. That’s just a retaking of Azeri land, which we really tried to cut through that with the report and show that it’s about so much more.
Jeff King: Yeah. Here’s a question for you. I almost hesitate to ask because of all the information we’ve shared between part one and part two, this question is top because it’s going to really force you to boil it down, and this is unrehearsed. But why should, not Christian, why should Americans care about this issue?
Andrew Crane: Sure. So because of the genocide in 1915, so many Armenians had to leave their homelands. And just by circumstance, a lot of them ended up settling in the U.S. There’s a large army in the American diaspora located here, and it’s very well organized. The Armenian diaspora is I’d say heavily centralized in California, but that being said, there are Armenian communities all throughout the U.S. And as a result of this conflict, we’ve seen an increase in hate crimes against Armenians, not only just in Armenia itself, but in Turkey and even in the U.S.
There’s an Armenian school in California outside San Francisco was recently, or last year it was defaced. Someone’s spay-painted Azerbaijani flag and had a hateful message on the side of it. There’s another circumstance with I believe it was the same school, but someone drove by when the school was empty and shot a gun multiple times at the school. And so the kids had to come in the next day and see the bolt holes on the side. And then there’s another incident in San Francisco as well, where someone tried to burn down an Armenian church there. And so the church office was greatly damaged. But it just shows that these issues are not only across the world in the caucuses, but they’re in our backyard too. These Armenians also have a shared American identity. So these are our neighbors that we should also help protect against that hatred.
Claire Evans: I think to add to that, there is a certain amount of just brazenness that came [crosstalk 00:23:14]. The events that Andrew described happened during the 44 day war, and we saw them not just in the U.S. but in Europe. It really ignited the sense of open violence amongst the pro Turkic nationalistic community. And it didn’t matter if you were in the U.S. If you believe that, you were going to commit violence and you were going to target Armenians. And our country is not supposed to be that way. Who we are is based on freedom of conscience and freedom of identity, and that they think that they can do that here. That should worry us as Americans. It’s not just an issue over there. They dare to bring it also into our backyards.
Jeff King: That’s well said. And let me, I’m still fishing here, and I’m trying to think how articulate I tried before. But from a geopolitical angle, why should Americans care about what’s going on given the bigger context of Erdogan and Turkey and what’s cooking, why should they care, can we boil that down to a short message?
Andrew Crane: Sure. So I think first off, throughout this discussion, you wouldn’t know it but Turkey is a close U.S. ally. There are so many joint U.S.-Turkey military operations there. We operate up some bases within Turkey and we do joint operations in places like Afghanistan. And you won’t be able to tell that based on this conversation, which is concerning. Turkey has a new ally, the NATO Alliance commits all of its members to a collective defense. So theoretically, if someone were to attack Turkey or if Turkey were to go on the aggression, they may call on U.S. soldiers to come help them in that force. And that’s incredibly concerning, that U.S. soldiers could be used in that way to fight alongside a Turkish force that has committed grave human rights abuses against Armenian Christians.
From a more geopolitical point, like we said in the first part of this podcast, Erdogan’s ambitions to reignite the Ottoman empire are very concerning to everyone in the region. I mentioned the first part, but if you look on a map where the Turkish military has operations right now, it looks eerily similar to a map of the Ottoman empire, which of course was brutal against the Armenians and committed genocide against them. And so it’s greatly concerning that we see a Turkish president who has the same ambitions of this empire that committed grave atrocities. And so we don’t know where it’s going to stop. Erdogan I think will just keep going until someone puts a stop to him, and we haven’t seen that yet.
Jeff King: Yeah. I think that’s what I’m feeling. And we call him president because that’s his title, but that’s not who he is. He’s a dictator, and now he’s a dictator for life. He’s destroyed all opposition, he’s destroyed democracy. He’s an Islamic radical and with a vision for his place in history to rebuild the world’s greatest Islamic empire. And he’s violent, he’s a very bent towards violence, aggression, dominance, and they are large military force. And that is deeply concerning. And there’s been a string of events. This isn’t a one-off that’s the thing. This is a chapter in a book that’s being written and this guy’s own identity and wiring make him extremely dangerous. That’s my best attempt to articulate what I feel and see.
Claire now, how about you, based on what I just said, you’re agreeing, what’s your response to all that?
Claire Evans: Well, I think Erdogan, he is a thug who operates like a thug and he’s basically a bully. He just does whatever it is he wants to do and hopes he gets away with it.
Jeff King: Yeah. That’s a fair description. And boys have a way of, I think you said it before, they have a way to just keep going until they’re opposed. And he has not been opposed, and it’s not … Gosh, we have to break a lot of things if he’s really opposed. And I wonder if even president Biden is saying … That’s a shot across the bow and it’s like we’re trying to weaken his position at home too. I don’t know if that’ll work. Because that’s the only real answer. The Turkish people have to rise up at some point and say, “We’re either happy with this dictator or we need to change.” And unfortunately, he’s so destroyed the opposition and the free press and everything else in this country. It’s a little hard to see that happening, to see rising up and throwing them out.
In that same vein of why should we care, Claire, talk to me about what you’ve seen in terms of victims. On one hand, we could say, “Look, this many ten thousands have been killed in prison and this and that,” but those are all statistics. It’s like tell me about some individuals who were victims. Do you have any?
Claire Evans: There’s probably too many victims overall. And I think the hard part about this, a lot of them are very young or very old. So they’re in the most vulnerable segments of society. Their parents were victims of the genocide. Their grandparents were victims. So they’re dealing with all this trauma. And then they come in with this latest invasion and they’re experiencing it firsthand themselves. And that’s a lot to handle. We have a number of victims who were young men, teenagers, boys who were trying to defend their family’s homes. And then eventually had to flee because they couldn’t with the forces overwhelming them. We had elderly people who couldn’t escape fast enough. And then when they were caught, horrific abuses were committed against them. We have a lot of women who are widows left behind with lots of kids. Some of the people that we’re helping are widows with like eight kids and they’re all very young. So the need is massive and they are representative of demographic or some of the most vulnerable segments of society.
Jeff King: Okay. And you’ve told me about a couple of them. You told me about Gayan, woman we’ve helped. ho is Gayan?
Claire Evans: Yeah. She’s a singer in a choir in the city of Shushi. But Shushi was captured by Azerbaijan, and nobody thought Shushi would fall. They thought it was going to be defendable. But when it fell, everybody had to flee, and she fled with her two kids. She’s a widow. Her husband died when he stepped on a mine and it exploded. So she’s left alone with these two kids. She fled to [inaudible 00:32:10] and she’s living in displaced housing, which means it’s not very good. It’s not the greatest housing you could live in, and it’s winter and it’s cold. It’s in the caucuses and it’s freezing. And there’s snow and she’s living in a home that wasn’t built really to house people with these two kids.
And something she told us when we went to visit her to find out what she needed. She said, “I just saw pictures of my church that was destroyed. They completely destroyed the church where I used to sing. Why would they ever do that?” And that just goes to show it wasn’t just to capture a city, it was to wipe out Christianity. So, she’s one of the ones that were helping. She said she was really embarrassed to go search for a washing machine because she had all this laundry to do and it’s winter. She was just embarrassed. She didn’t have the ability to wash her own clothes. So we’re getting her a washing machine now and as well as some things to help with living.
Jeff King: Tough situation. I’m trying to think of another guy you told me. You told be about a Simon I think. What was the story of Simon?
Claire Evans: He’s another family that were helping. He was a POW captured by Azerbaijan, spent several months in jail. While he was in prison or held captive rather, he was beaten daily with a hammer on his head. He was released just a few weeks ago and we visited his family. He has a wife and a daughter who’s under a year old. And the wife was telling us that he’s been very mentally unstable since he’s come back. He obviously has PTSD and he’s has a lot of big reactions to normal things because he’s just very jumpy. And so she was staring how she’s feeling stressed between having to take care of him and she has this under one year old [crosstalk 00:34:10]. And she’s just feels very stressed and they’re living in housing that’s, again, displaced housing. So it’s not really meant to live there long-term and it’s winter and it’s cold and you don’t have a job. Everybody’s just [inaudible 00:34:24]. So we’re also helping them getting the diapers for their little girl, food and hopefully eventually we can do livelihood with them as well. And just trying to get them back on their feet.
Jeff King: Yeah. And those are the living ones, and then there’s others we can’t help anymore. There’s the loved ones. That’s who we help when the victims are gone. But in terms of victims, who were the victims you think about, are there any that stand out to you? Because you’ve unfortunately been exposed to a whole bunch of war. Do any of the particular victims stand out that are individuals you can talk to about?
Claire Evans: Yeah, there this one who, he was an elderly man, about 69 years old. He actually survived a pole ground experience against Armenian Christians a couple of decades earlier in Baku, but he fled and he went to Nagorno-Karabakh because as a refugee, he thought he’d be safer there, but obviously he wasn’t. Azerbaijan invaded. He was captured, tortured and eventually beheaded. And it was all filmed on video. The person who beheaded him actually received a medal for it in Azerbaijan. A medal that basically praised him for what he did. They weren’t shy or embarrassed by it. They weren’t able to deny that the beheading happened and they were going to praise it instead. And his beheading is a very difficult video to watch because they drag it out, and they really took their time with it. And unfortunately, he’s just one of many who had this kind of experience.
Jeff King: Yeah. And I just think about your experience, Claire and Andrew, it’s like in this business, we see the worst of humanity. So anyways, people need to pray for your guys’ hearts. We get exposed to just the worst evil and and there’s been an unbelievable amount of it. Because, Claire, you said, those victimizing, those doing the victimizing, they’re proud of the work. They want it known. They want it shared. They want to terrorize. They want to be feared. They are predators. They are wolves and they want the prey to run. So anyways, it’s just a thought. We need to be praying for you guys that are on the front lines and being exposed to this. So, what motivates you guys biblically to be involved in this fight?
Andrew Crane: I am obviously not Armenian Christian. But that being said, those are my brothers and sisters in Christ. And they are currently just in such a vulnerable position, the Armenians, that are still so they’re wedged in between Turkey and Azerbaijan. And like we’ve been saying, this conflict, even though a peace agreement has been signed, it’s probably not over. Erdogan will continually try to achieve those Ottoman expansionist goals until someone puts a stop to it. So I’d say being united in helping out those who are our brothers and sisters, but also in the most vulnerable position right now. And it’s our duty as Christians to lift them up.
Jeff King: Yeah. And when I hear you say that, I think of all those verses on the body. We are one body in Christ, and imagine that foot, that toe being smashed. And if anything, we’re the mouth. You guys are acting as the mouth lot of times. And then we’re also helping hands. We go in and heal and we touch. But the word tells us we are one body and that we should care. That’s what I hear the background, what you’re saying. Claire, how about you, what motivates you biblically?
Claire Evans: Well, I think all of us are called to be an agent of grace and to participate in that grace that God offers the world. And a huge part of grace is to be a light in the darkness. And so as Christians, even though it can be really difficult, we’re called to go look out the darkness, where is it the most dark, and go shed light into that area. There’s a lot of darkness here in Turkey, a lot of darkness in this particular event. And to participate as an agent of grace means shining light on that area, not necessarily to shame close countries who are involved, but rather to offer them that same light, that same grace, that we’d been offered by shining light into that darkness. So I think that’s what motivates me, is wherever it looks the most dark, that’s exactly where you have to go.
Jeff King: That’s well said. How can people help? That’s the upshot of all this. Andrew, Claire, you work in two different apartments, but at the same time you work together regionally, how do people help?
Andrew Crane: Sure. So I’d say first of all from the advocacy side, one of the most pressing issues that we are seeing that’s being engaged in D.C. is the POW issue with this resolution that I mentioned. So, one great thing that you can do just as an American is call up your Congressman or Congresswoman, call up your Senator, tell them to join in and support House Resolution 240 on this issue and really call for justice for these POWs. These POWs are experiencing abuse every single day as we speak and so it’s the duty of the U.S. to really look out for human rights all around the world and really call Azerbaijan.
So I’d say call your representative, call your Senator, tell them to join your Armenian Caucus. So the caucus has grown immensely over the past couple of years, now has over 100 members. And all of these members are committed representatives who want to stay engaged on these issues and advocate for the rights of our meetings, because they see that they’re in this vulnerable spot. So, join the Armenian Caucus and support House Resolution 240.
Jeff King: Okay. Appreciate that. Claire, how about you?
Claire Evans: Well, I think for a victim, there’s no place more lonely than to be in a place that nobody recognizes, to experience something that nobody recognizes. But particularly for those who are interested in this issue, you have an opportunity to be a light here and to join in partnership and in friendship with lifting them up, where there’s a hundred thousand people who were displaced and very few aid going in, but ICC is there. We have hands and feet. We have boots on the ground, who are there, and we are helping as many as we can, but the need is so great. And it ranges from everything of helping them survive winter. Well, winter is almost over, but now we’re into summer. They need permanent housing and they need jobs. They survive. Now we have to help them to live.
And so I think the best opportunity now to help from an assistance side is really to get on our website and just donate to the rescue fund, where we can then take those resources and help them live, help them achieve the best possible life they can achieve given the circumstances that’s just completely disrupted their lives.
Jeff King: That is so well said. And point people again, how do they give?
Claire Evans: It’s go onto our website, persecution.org, and then the top right corner, there’s a donate button that you can designate it to. And these people, their needs are not necessarily going to go away quickly. If you’re displaced, those needs can go month to month to month. So if you think about that, how their needs are re-occurring at this stage because they are displaced people. And we want to get them back to work, we want to get them back into society, but that takes time. So there are monthly re-occurring needs as well that have to happen.
Jeff King: Okay. All right guys. Well, I would say, again, to the audience, keep these two guys in prayer. They get exposed to a lot, and it’s pure evil. So anyways, protect your hearts. And I just want to say thank you to you guys for your work and your dedication. And there is a whole nation of people as well as the regional victims that really you guys are their heroes. In the U.S., I think you’ve put us on the map, where we’re the only U.S. group, non Armenian group, that’s lifting this up. And so you’ve become heroes to them. And I so appreciate that. And just the work you’re doing and just picking up the flag and carrying it down Capitol Hill and out with the victims and out in the press for Claire. So you guys bless you. Thanks for being on the team. And thanks for caring for your brothers and sisters and all the hard work you do.
Audience, thank you so much. We’ll be back next week, but I hope you enjoyed this, if that’s the right word. I know it gave you a completely new perspective on what’s going on, and I can almost guarantee more depth than you ever realized existed on this issue. But thanks for joining Into The Deep, and we’ll see you next week. God bless.