Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan, Artsakh Prime Minister Arayik Haroutyunyan, representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern United States Central Committee (Antranig Kasbarian), the ARF Artsakh Central Committee, the Tufenkian Foundation (Executive Director Raffi Doudaklian), the Armenian Cultural Association of America (ACAA) Artsakh Fund of the Eastern U.S (Raffi Killian), as well as several donors and guests joined the villagers of Arajamugh for the official ceremony.
The festive celebration included the handing of the keys of six new homes to six families, who have resettled in Arajamugh, as well as the announcement of a pledge to cover expenses of the village’s school expansion and the building of new the village’s medical clinic.
The Arajamugh Village Project is a collaboration between the Tufenkian Foundation and the Armenian Cultural Association of America (ACAA) Artsakh Fund of the Eastern U.S., for the development and expansion of Arajamugh village. The Artsakh Fund will assume the main responsibility of the project moving forward.
Also present at the ceremony were visitors, including activists, journalists, and a number of Diasporan Armenian celebrities including Serj Tankian, Atom Egoyan, Arsinee Khanjian, and Eric Nazarian.
During the event, President Sahakyan expressed his gratitude to the Tufenkian Foundation and the Artsakh Fund of the Eastern U.S. for their commitment and realization of the project, noting the village’s strategic location and socio-economic and political significance. Representatives of the Artsakh government used the occasion to renew its commitment toward the liberated territories, calling pro-active settlement a decisive step in countering Baku’s aggression. Brief remarks were also delivered by Valery Gevorgyan, the Governor of the Hadrut region, where the village is located.
“Artsakh is the backbone of our national identity,” said Arajamugh Project Manager Raffi Killian of Chicago. Speaking on behalf of the Artsakh Fund, Killian reaffirmed the fund’s readiness of to continue its work in Arajamugh.
“These new houses are our answer to last year’s Azerbaijani aggression. It happened exactly a year ago, and by building new homes, we are telling them that we are here to stay,” said Tufenkian Foundation Executive Director Raffi Doudaklian.
In his address, Doudaklian stressed the strategic importance of the village, as it is close to the border and the barracks, and lies on a point that connects many villages in the region. “It is now time for the locals to develop the region by cultivating the fertile lands, by working for a better future. We in the Diaspora can and will support, but without the hard work of the local inhabitants, our efforts will not have the effect we want,” Doudaklian said.
“I am very excited and proud,” System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian told reporters following the ceremony. “We have attended a number of ceremonies… but this one is the most exciting for me, because an Armenian family will come and live here in Artsakh. We are very happy and moved,” Tankian added.
Arajamugh village is located in southern Artsakh, roughly 25 miles beneath Hadrut, in territories liberated by Artsakh Defense Forces in late 1993. The village represents the southernmost presence of a civilian population in Artsakh.
The Arajamugh Village Project was initiated in 2004 by the Tufenkian Foundation, working in conjunction with the Artsakh Department of Refugees and Resettlement. The village now features 25 houses and associated infrastructure, a school and town hall, a nearby pomegranate orchard, as well as nearly 100 inhabitants.
In 2012, following a working visit to Artsakh, the ACAA Artsakh Fund decided to assume responsibility for expanding the village, developing