Film on the Khojaly Tragedy premieres at the world-famous Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles

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Film on the Khojaly Tragedy premieres at the world-famous Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

documentary film highlighting the 1992 Khojaly Massacre premiered at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. This is the first documentary dedicated to the Khojaly Tragedy in the United States.

The Khojaly Massacre was committed by the armed forces of Armenia against the Azerbaijani civilians on February 26, 1992 in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Called “the largest massacre in the conflict” between Armenia and Azerbaijan by the Human Rights Watch, the massacre resulted in the murder of 613 Azerbaijani civilians, including over 250 children, women and the elderly. In 2015, the European Court of Human Rights passed a ruling corroborating the facts of the massacre and naming its perpetrators.

Titled “Running from the Darkness”, the documentary was filmed by Los Angeles filmmakers, led by a local organization J-Connect. The premiere screening was hosted at the Museum of Tolerance of the world-famous Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is one of the biggest (400,000 families) and most influential Jewish human rights organizations in the world. The Museum of Tolerance is one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to Holocaust.

The screening was attended by mayors and councilmembers of various cities of the Los Angeles County, other elected officials, consuls general and honorary consuls of various countries, representatives of the U.S. Homeland Security Department, State Department and other federal and state government bodies, renowned faith leaders representing Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other religions, mass media, influential leaders of different ethnic communities (Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Macedonian, Pakistani, Hispanic, Jewish, Iranian, Turkish, etc.) of Los Angeles and others.

Opening the event, Director of the Museum of Tolerance Dr. Liebe Geft said that despite many tragedies the people of Azerbaijan had to endure in its recent history, Azerbaijan has been able to maintain its centuries-old traditions of interfaith tolerance and multiculturalism.

Speaking afterwards, Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev stressed the importance of holding onto the values of interfaith tolerance and harmony in the face of hatred and tragedy, what, in his words, Azerbaijan has been able to do during the last 25 years since the Khojaly Massacre. Describing the film as a story of survival of tolerance against intolerance and stressing the need to educate wider audiences about what happened in Khojaly in 1992 so that similar tragedies do not occur again, the Consul General thanked the filmmakers for masterfully capturing the whole story of this crime against humanity.

Presenting the film, the Board President of J-Connect Josh Kaplan said: “At J-Connect, our organization understands history and the importance of tolerance and cooperation. We react at a base level when we see innocent people and their communities destroyed simply because of their identities. When I learned about the massacre in Khojaly, I knew then that there was an important story that needed to be told. With the world in such turmoil we felt that a story of this complexity, of this emotion and passion was important for the world to hear about in an unbiased and thoughtful manner. We partnered with One Wish Project, a film company whose mission it is to capture powerful stories and bring them to life… The fact that what happened in Khojaly is unknown to most was a huge motivating factor in creating this film. We live in a world that is committed to recognizing and preventing genocide, and yet without recognition and awareness of this tragedy, our world remains at great risk for another Khojaly”

Then the film was screened. Based on interviews with many survivors of the Khojaly Massacre as well with U.S. elected officials, reporters, academic experts, Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders of Los Angeles and an Armenian human rights advocate, the film vividly tells the horrific story of the tragedy. The documentary also highlights how Azerbaijan, confronted with Khojaly tragedy as well as the illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of around 20% of its sovereign territory by neighboring Armenia in the early 1990s, did not allow the hatred and intolerance to take hold of itself, but on the contrary worked actively to strengthen its age-old identity and traditions of interfaith harmony and tolerance.

Following the well-received screening, Consul General asked the renowned Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders of Los Angeles, namely Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez, Rabbi Yonah Bookstein and Mahomed Khan, to pray for the victims of Khojaly as well as for peace and tolerance. The joint prayer in accordance with the traditions of all three Abrahamic religions was enthusiastically received by the audience.

At the event, the aforementioned faith leaders were presented with Interfaith Tolerance Awards established this year by the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, honoring the faith leaders’ profound and long-standing engagement in promoting peace, tolerance and harmony among all religions.

The event concluded with the performance of Azerbaijani and European classical music.

Azerbaijan was presented at the famous Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show

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Azerbaijan presented at the Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show

Provocative and aggressive actions by the Armenian lobby fail to disrupt Azerbaijan’s presentation.

Azerbaijan’s tourism potential was presented at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show held on February 18-19, 2017. Attended by over 30,000 visitors, the Show is the largest travel event in the United States.

Sponsored and organized by the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, the Azerbaijan booth, titled “Azerbaijan: Everlasting Heritage, Inspirational Harmony,” offered the attendees substantial information about Azerbaijan, its ancient history and culture, steady development as an independent nation as well as its rich tourism potential. Various video clips showcasing Azerbaijan’s natural beauties, landscapes, unique history, cultural diversity and architecture were demonstrated in the booth. Colorful national costumes of Azerbaijan demonstrated in the booth received much acclaim.

The Azerbaijan booth also presented Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region and informed the Show visitors about this historical part of the country. The banner ”Karabakh: Crown Jewel of Azerbaijan”, featured in the booth, attracted much attention of the Show visitors. Showcasing picturesque nature of Karabakh, the banner also features Karabakh’s history, its historical Azerbaijani monuments, such as the Shusha Walls, Govharagha Mosque, Ganjasar Albanian Monastery, as well as the Karabakh carpets, the Mugham music school, the Karabakh horses and cuisine. A booklet, which includes information on all these features of Karabakh, published by the Consulate General, was distributed in the booth. The brochure also highlights the current situation in Karabakh, which has been under illegal military occupation by Armenia since over 24 years. Referring to a travel warning by the U.S. State Department, the brochure cautions Americans to avoid any travel to this region.

Alarmed by Azerbaijan’s presentation at the Show, California’s Armenian lobby tried its best, through various provocative and aggressive actions, to disrupt the work of the Azerbaijan booth. However the lobby once again miserably failed.

The presentation of Azerbaijan at the largest travel show in the U.S. became another success story.

Azerbaijani composer Fikret Amirov remembered in Los Angeles

Azerbaijan’s Consulate General in Los Angeles hosted on January 13, 2017 an event dedicated to famous Azerbaijani composer Fikret Amirov (1922-84). Members of the “Save a Heart” Foundation of the world-renowned Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of Los Angeles attended the event.

Opening the event, Azerbaijan’s Consul General Nasimi Aghayev informed the guests about the composer’s life and immortal works. Aghayev noted that with his music Amirov enriched not only the Azerbaijani music, but also made tremendous contributions to the world music earning much international recognition. The Consul General mentioned that at the invitation of the U.S. State Department an exclusive group of just four Soviet composers, led by Dmitri Shostakovich, travelled to the U.S. in 1959. Stressing the fact that one of these composers representing the entire Soviet classical music was Amirov, the Consul General said that this was illustrative of the importance attached to the great composer’s music. Aghayev mentioned that as part of the tour, the delegation also visited California. Noting that Amirov’s music found much recognition and admiration in the U.S. as well, the Consul General said that his works were performed by symphonic orchestras of New York, Philadelphia and Houston under the leadership of Leopold Stokowski, one of the leading conductors of the 20th century. Aghayev also mentioned that the World Champion Ice Skater from the U.S. Michelle Kwan used Fikret Amirov’s symphonic mugham “Gulustan Bayati-Shiraz” in her skating program “Taj Mahal” in 1997.

Speaking afterwards, the president of the “Save a Heart” Foundation Dr Yzhar Charuzi and the member of the Foundation Esphir Blaugrund expressed appreciation for Amirov’s music and thanked the Consulate General for the opportunity to get to know the whole richness of the Azerbaijani music and culture more and more though joint events.

Then Amirov’s “1001 Nights” ballet was screened. The ballet was received by the audience with much applause and admiration.

 

Five new documentary films were included to the collection under the title of “Pearls of Azerbaijan” in Los Angeles

A collection of CDs featuring the documentary films on Azerbaijan was released in Los Angeles.

Five new documentary films were included to the collection under the title of “Pearls of Azerbaijan”. The initiative was carried out by Azerbaijan’s Consulate General in Los Angeles.

The films are “Azerbaijan: Land of Hope & Inspiration”; “Cultural & Natural History of Azerbaijan”; “Baku: Jewel of the Caspian”; “Jews of Azerbaijan: A Model for Muslim-Jewish Coexistence”; and “Christian & Muslim Villages of Azerbaijan”.

Produced in Los Angeles this year, the documentaries provide information about Azerbaijan’s rich and colorful culture, history, traditions, beautiful nature and tourism opportunities; they highlight the steady development of Azerbaijan as an independent nation since 1991, and the country’s positive multiculturalism and successful model of multi-faith tolerance and harmony, which allow for Muslims, Christians, Jews and representatives of other faiths to continue to live together in peace and mutual respect.

Supported jointly by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Consulate General in Los Angeles, the documentaries were filmed and produced by Los Angeles-based ECONEWS Television and Radio Series, and released this year.

ECONEWS is a three-times EMMY-nominated weekly series that has produced over 600 environmental television shows since 1984, and 2000 Environmental Directions Radio shows since 1977, becoming the longest-running environmental program in the United States. ECONEWS is a United Nations Environment Programme Global 500 Laureate. ECONEWS shows have also received awards in the Hometown USA Video Festival, AVEDA U. S. Environmental Film Festival and other film festivals.

ECONEWS Host Nancy Pearlman and her crew visited Azerbaijan to film the documentary shows in both Baku and various regions of Azerbaijan.

The films have already been aired by over 50 television stations located in 21 U.S. states, including California, reaching 19 million homes. Some of the films have been screened in Los Angeles, Idyllwild (CA) as well as at Texas universities. More presentations and screenings are underway.

“Seven Beauties” by prominent composer Gara Garayev screened in Los Angeles

Azerbaijan’s Consulate General in Los Angeles hosted on November 4, 2016 a screening of the Azerbaijani ballet “Seven Beauties”.  Screened was the version of the ballet, which had been performed to great acclaim in October 2014 by San Diego Ballet in San Diego – California’s second largest city – to a crowd of 3,000. This 2014 premiere of the ballet took place with the support of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles.

The screening on November 4 was attended by members of the “Save a Heart” Foundation of the world-famous Cedars-Sinai Hospital, including the 2013 Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry Dr Arieh Warshel, as well as other lovers of classical music.

Highlighting the history of Azerbaijan’s rich culture, Consul General Nasimi Aghayev noted that the “Seven Beauties” ballet had been composed by famous Azerbaijani composer Gara Garayev, based on the motives of the great Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi’s same-name poem (1197), and staged on November 6, 1952 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Speaking of the composer’s life and immortal works, the Consul General mentioned that Garayev travelled to the U.S. in 1961 to attend the Los Angeles Music Festival, where his other ballet “Path of Thunder” was performed by the Festival’s symphonic orchestra, conducted by two-time Oscar-winning composer and musician Franz Waxman.

The president of the “Save a Heart” Foundation Dr Yzhar Charuzi thanked the Consulate General for the opportunity to get to know the whole richness of the Azerbaijani music and culture more and more though joint events.

Then the “Seven Beauties” ballet was screened. The ballet was received by the audience with much applause and admiration.

Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles

 

Azerbaijan’s model of multiculturalism discussed in California

The Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills (TEBH) hosted an event on Azerbaijan on November 3, 2016. Co-hosted by the American Jewish Committee’s Los Angeles Regional Office (AJC-LA), the event was attended by the members of TEBH. TEBH is one of Southern California’s premier Reform Jewish congregations and synagogues, serving West and Greater Los Angeles.

At the invitation of both institutions, Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev spoke at the event.

Opening the event, Rabbi Sarah Bassin, the Associate Rabbi of TEBH, spoke of the importance of this discussion “that is designed to push us out of our comfort zones”. AJC-LA’s Vice President Julie Bram highlighted AJC’s long-standing friendship with Azerbaijan and informed the audience about the global activities of the organization.

Following the screening of a short video on Azerbaijan, Consul General Aghayev was invited to address the audience in a conversation moderated by Rabbi Sarah Bassin. In his remarks, Consul General Aghayev informed the attendees about important milestones of Azerbaijan’s history, as well as its steady development and modernization as an independent nation since the collapse of the Soviet Union. He also mentioned that the Azerbaijani people established in 1918 the first secular parliamentary republic in the Muslim world that granted voting rights to women in 1919, making Azerbaijan the first among Muslim countries taking such a pioneering step. Speaking of Azerbaijan’s ages-old traditions of interfaith tolerance, Consul General Aghayev stated that thanks to tireless efforts by Azerbaijan’s leadership, today all religious communities in Azerbaijan enjoy strong interfaith harmony and acceptance, and Muslims, Christians, Jews and other communities live together in peace, dignity and mutual respect in the country. Stressing the fact that this harmony exists not only among religions, but also within religions as well, Aghayev noted the harmonious relationship between Shias and Sunnis of Azerbaijan’s Muslim population, which is encouraged and strengthened by the government on a daily basis.

Highlighting the 2,500-year old history of Azerbaijan’s vibrant Jewish community, the Consul General also talked about the comprehensive relationship and strong friendship between Azerbaijan and Israel.

Speaking about the illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijan’s lands by neighboring Armenia, Consul General Aghayev expressed appreciation for Israel’s constant support for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. In this regard, Aghayev also expressed gratitude for Israeli President Rivlin’s reference to the Khojaly Massacre – committed by Armenia in 1992 against Azerbaijani civilians resulting in the death of over 600 including 300 children, women and elderly – in his 2015 U.N. speech on the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The event concluded with a lively Q&A session, during which Nasimi Aghayev responded to various questions from the audience.

Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles

 

Azerbaijani delegation meets with American Jewish Committee in Los Angeles

The visiting Azerbaijani delegation met today with the leaders of the American Jewish Committee in Los Angeles (AJC-LA).

The delegation from Azerbaijan included Mr. Milikh Yevdayev, President of Azerbaijani’s Mountainous Jewish Community; Dr. Asim Mollazade, Member of Azerbaijan’s Parliament; and Mr. Asif Asgarov, Head of the Executive Authority of the Nasimi District of Baku, Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s Consul General in Los Angeles Mr. Nasimi Aghayev accompanied the delegation.

The meeting focused on Azerbaijan’s longstanding traditions of interfaith tolerance and harmony, the present life of Azerbaijan’s 2,000-year old Jewish community, the strong friendship between the Azerbaijani and Jewish people as well as the country’s robust partnership with the United States and Israel.

At the end of the meeting, the Azerbaijani delegation presented the AJC-LA with a painting reflecting Baku’s Old Town.

‘Ali and Nino’ film opens Asian World Film Festival in Los Angeles

aliandninoincaliforniaThe ‘Ali and Nino’ was successfully screened on October 24, 2016 as the opening film of the Asian World Film Festival in Los Angeles. Directed by Oscar-winning  filmmaker Asif Kapadia and produced by Ms Leyla Aliyeva, vice-president of Azerbaijan’s Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and Kris Thykier; and with screenplay by Oscar-winning writer Christopher Hampton and starring Adam Bakri (Ali) and Maria Valverde (Nino), this feature film is based on a love story between a young Azerbaijani Muslim nobleman and Georgian Christian princess during the tumultuous years of 1914-1920.

Supported and co-presented by Azerbaijan’s Consulate General in Los Angeles, the screening was attended by Oscar and Emmy-nominated film directors, producers and actors, and other members of the Hollywood film industry. Due to the tremendous public interest in the film, the Festival organizers had to open a second auditorium for the screening of the same film during the Festival opening. Adam Bakri was present at the screening.

Speaking at the event, Azerbaijan’s Consul General in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev informed the audience about the history of Azerbaijan in the 20th century, especially mentioning the fact that within one century the people of Azerbaijan achieved its independence twice, establishing in 1918 the Muslim world’s first secular democracy and granting voting rights to women before the United States and many European countries. Highlighting the historical and moral values reflected by “Ali and Nino,” the Consul General noted that this film is not just about the beautiful love story of two young people, it is also about the struggle of the Azerbaijani people for independence as well as about the country’s long-standing traditions of interfaith tolerance and multiculturalism. Aghayev stressed that the implementation of this amazing film project has been made possible thanks to the comprehensive support by Azerbaijan’s First Lady and the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva, and the Foundation’s Vice President and the film’s executive producer Ms Leyla Aliyeva.

Then the film was screened. From the very first moments, the film made much impression upon the audience and was received with standing ovations.

It should be noted that a delegation from Azerbaijan that is on a working visit to California, consisting of Mr. Asif Asgarov, Head of the Executive Authority of the Nasimi District of Baku, Azerbaijan; Dr. Asim Mollazade, Member of Azerbaijan’s Parliament; and Mr. Milikh Yevdayev, President of the Mountainous Jewish Community of Azerbaijan, attended the screening as well.

25th Anniversary of Azerbaijan’s Independence Celebrated in Los Angeles

 

NasimiAgayevThe 25th anniversary of the restoration of Azerbaijan’s independence was celebrated in Los Angeles on October 19, 2016 with a well-attended reception.

Hosted by Azerbaijan’s Consulate General in Los Angeles, the reception was attended by representatives of the U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Los Angeles City and County; Consuls General and Honorary Consuls of various countries, professors of California universities, mass media representatives, as well as members of Azerbaijani, Turkish, Jewish, Korean, Vietnamese and Iranian communities.

The event started with the national anthems of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the United States. Speaking afterwards, Azerbaijan’s Consul General in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev highlighted the tumultuous history of Azerbaijan in the 20th century, especially the fact that within one century the people of Azerbaijan achieved its freedom and independence twice – first in 1918, establishing the first secular democracy in the Muslim world, and then in 1991, gaining freedom from the Soviet Union. Speaking of the huge political and economic hardships faced by the young Republic in the early 1990s, the Consul General mentioned that Azerbaijan was on the brink of fragmentation. “Only the election of Azerbaijan’s National Leader Heydar Aliyev to the presidency saved Azerbaijan from potential collapse,” the diplomat said. “Thanks to the titanic efforts by Heydar Aliyev, the stability was restored, crucial oil contracts signed, important economic reforms launched and smart foreign policy pursued, which all paved the way for the tremendous transformation of the country into a political and economic powerhouse,” Aghayev continued.

Highlighting the achievements of Azerbaijan during the 25 years of its independence, the Consul General mentioned that “under the visionary leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan has become today the region’s largest economy, a rapidly modernizing country and an island of stability in an otherwise unstable region.” Noting Azerbaijan’s long-standing traditions of interfaith harmony and tolerance, Aghayev said: “Azerbaijan has been able to establish an exemplary environment where Muslims, Christians, Jews and representatives of other faiths continue to live together in peace, dignity and mutual respect.”

Then the floor was given to the Deputy Director of the DHS Center of the White House Office of Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships Dr Jannah Scott. Appointed to this position by President Barack Obama in 2009, Dr Scott has played a crucial role in interfaith dialogue and cooperation across the nation. In her remarks, Dr Scott said that she was highly impressed by what she learned about Azerbaijan’s exemplary model of interfaith tolerance, harmony and positive multiculturalism. She noted that in these difficult times moderate and secular majority-Muslim nations like Azerbaijan deserve more attention, and one could also learn from their experiences of building solid bridges between various faith communities.

Certificates of recognition celebrating Azerbaijan’s independence were presented at the event on behalf of the boards of supervisors of the Los Angeles County and Orange County. The celebration continued with the performance of Azerbaijani songs by talented musicians, followed by a reception that included meals from Azerbaijani national cuisine.

Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles

 

 

The Biola University of Los Angeles hosts an event on Azerbaijan

 

On October 11, 2016, the Biola University – one of the oldest universities of Los Angeles – hosted an event dedicated to Azerbaijan’s model of interfaith harmony and peace. At the invitation of the University’s Cook School of Intercultural Studies, Azerbaijan’s Consul General in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev delivered remarks at the event.

Speaking in the beginning, the Dean of the School of Intercultural Studies Dr. Bulus Galadima, the Associate Dean Dr. Richard Starcher and the Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies Dr. Moussa Bongoyok noted the importance of inter-religious tolerance in these troubled times for the world peace and expressed their gratitude for the bright example Azerbaijan is providing in this regard.

In his remarks, Consul General Aghayev spoke about the historical and cultural roots of Azerbaijan’s strong traditions of multi-faith tolerance and multiculturalism, as well as elaborated on the current atmosphere of brotherhood reigning between various religions and ethnicities in the country. Aghayev mentioned that despite all the challenges Azerbaijan has faced and continues to face, being located in a complicated geography, the country has been able to build a successful model of tolerance and positive multiculturalism, which allows for Muslims, Christians, Jews and representatives of other faiths to live in peace, harmony and dignity. The Consul General noted that thanks to the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, this environment of multi-faith and multicultural harmony and tolerance is becoming stronger and stronger every day. He stressed in this regard that the year 2016 had been proclaimed by the President to be the “Year of Multiculturalism” in Azerbaijan.

Highlighting the brutal military occupation and ethnic cleansing of around 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory by Armenia, the Consul General said that despite all the crimes and injustices committed against the Azerbaijani people by the invader, Azerbaijan has not allowed the conflict to hamper its exemplary model of multi-faith harmony, tolerance and acceptance, and divert the country from its path of positive multiculturalism. He noted in this regard the meticulous preservation of an Armenian cathedral with its over 5,000 books, in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital. Against this backdrop, Aghayev said, almost all Azerbaijani mosques in the occupied areas have been destroyed by Armenia.

At the event, Kristina Conrad, a junior education major, beautifully performed “Sari Gelin”, a traditional Azerbaijani song, on clarinet to a great acclaim.