An Armenian school in California has been graffitied with racial slurs and flags of Azerbaijan over the weekend, as the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict spills into regional and international countries.
San Francisco police were investigating the incident and have not ruled out the possibility of it being a hate crime, according to local media.
KZV Armenian School released a statement on its website saying that it was vandalized on Friday, July 23, “by Turkish and Azerbaijanis nationalists.”
Obscenities and political slogans were graffitied on the classrooms and the school’s buildings. “Needless to say, the cowardly targeting of children on nationalistic grounds is both unacceptable and terrifying,” the school said.
“We will not allow terrorists and thugs to erode that in any way. Thank you for your consideration of support,” the Armenian school added.
Pictures shared with Al Arabiya English show the Azerbaijani flag spray-painted on one wall, with “Turkey AZ” painted on another.
Other references were made to the Armenian Genocide, where it is estimated that the Ottoman Empire slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians. Ankara vehemently denies that a genocide took place.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry called on its “compatriots to be vigilant, not to give in to any provocation, and in case of such situations to immediately contact the local law enforcement bodies, Armenian community structures, diplomatic representatives of Armenia.”
More than a dozen Armenian and Azerbaijanis soldiers have been killed in recent days in clashes between the two former Soviet republics, which have long been at odds over Azerbaijan’s breakaway, mainly ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
International efforts to settle the conflict have stalled, and clashes have been frequent.
The Armenian Embassy and Azerbaijan Embassy in Washington, DC, could not be reached comment.
The Bayview Police State was unable to be reached for comment as well.
Elsewhere, on Saturday, more than 30 people were arrested in Russia after a group of Azerbaijani supporters attacked Armenian supporters. Russian news reports said the spate of violent incidents began when groups of Azerbaijanis beat up Armenians in Moscow early Friday and later assailed Armenian-owned stores.
Earlier in the week, the LA Times reported that a peaceful protest organized by a group of young Armenians outside the Azerbaijan Consulate in Los Angeles last week turned violent after a group of Azerbaijani counter-protesters showed up.
Azerbaijan’s First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva condemned what she called “physical violence, aggression and inhuman hatred by members of the Armenian diaspora.”
The Los Angeles mayor, before the scuffles, had voiced his solidarity with the Armenian community, saying, “We stand with the Armenian community against violence.”
Meanwhile, Turkey has expressed support for Azerbaijan with President Tayyip Erdogan, saying that Ankara would not hesitate to “stand against any attack” on Azerbaijan and that Armenia was “out of its depth” in the conflict.
– With Reuters