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Local refugee brings awareness to ongoing conflict in her home country

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 20:36:42-05

MAGIC VALLEY — The ongoing battle between Azerbaijan and Armenia is the reason why Liyah Bababyan, a refugee in Twin Falls, had to flee her home country. Now Babayan is working with Mayor Suzanne Hawkins to bring awareness to the issue in the Magic Valley. She recently drafted a proclamation recognizing the independence of Artsakh.

"Being that there are Armenian refugees here in Twin Falls due to that original independence movement and conflict, I thought we have a role and a duty in defending the independence of people," Babayan said.

For decades the two countries fought over the land of Artsakh, says a history professor at the College of Southern Idaho. Just three months ago, the two countries broke into war.

"When it comes down to it, you have Azerbaijan, which is not supporting that region, and the Armenians that are supporting that region. They would like to have their freedom, they see themselves as an independent state, but the UN does not see them as an independent state," Justin Vipperman, Historian at the College of Southern Idaho, said.

Babayan initially reached out to Mayor Hawkins in December, looking for different ways to bring awareness on the issue to the Magic Valley.

"We had a good long discussion a couple of times about understanding this very complex history in this region," Babayan said.

After many discussions, Mayor Hawkins recently signed the proclamation in a city council meeting, recognizing the independence of Artsakh.

"It showed that in Twin Falls, we are locally focused, but we are globally aware," Babayan said.

Babayan says with the signing of the proclamation, the city joins other municipalities throughout the nation who signed proclamations. She says she hopes Twin Falls residents will take the opportunity to learn about the ongoing conflict.

"I'm just really proud to see Twin Falls be one of those cities and our mayor be one of those mayors, and I would hope that our governor would act next on the state level," Babayan said.