8 October 2021
Following a citizen’s request, the Commune of Ixelles partnered with AGBU Europe and the Armenian community of Belgium (CAB) to organize an awareness raising campaign aimed at informing its inhabitants about the Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) conflict, hardly covered by the Belgian media, and about the Armenian population of Artsakh as the main victim of this conflict. Centered around an open air photo exhibition displaying the work of two European journalists who traveled to Artsakh during the 2020 war, the campaign is entitled: “Nagorno-Karabakh: Scene of a Disregarded War”.
The opening of the open air exhibition in the heart of Ixelles (Flagey area) on October 1st gathered around 200 attendees, including European commission representatives working on the region, current and former Belgian members of Parliament, officials of local authorities in Brussels and Ambassador and Head of Mission of the Republic of Armenia Mrs. Anna Aghadjanian.
In his opening speech, the mayor of Ixelles Christos Doulkeridis stretched the importance of the campaign aiming at raising awareness about “a war, certainly a bit far from us, but which is a matter of concern to all of us on a number of counts.” Convinced that no one should remain indifferent, the mayor described the initiative of the Commune as “a way to provoke interest in what is happening in the region”, adding that “it was fundamental to us that we take the responsibility to show these photos, to exhibit them in the open air, in public, despite the criticisms that we may have heard around us.”
One of the two photographers identified by AGBU Europe to take part in the exhibition, Roberto Travan, traveled to Brussels from Torino, Italy, to attend the opening. In his conversation with on-site viewers, he expressed just how deeply he has been affected by his experience in Artsakh and how grateful he is for the people of Artsakh who did their best to accommodate his needs during his mission as a reporter. He explained: “I’ve covered different war zones in my career as a photo journalist. I was in Ukraine, in Afghanistan, in Central African Republic but my work in NK was by far the hardest experience. The constant shelling in Stepanakert, day and night, on civilian targets, was really what made it so different from the other wars.”
Belgian photographer Olivier Papegnies also traveled to Artsakh during the war, on a trip with Belgian MP George Dallemagne, immortalizing with his camera the devastating impact of the war on civilians. According to this latter, Papegnies’s photographs “speak from the heart of the distress of a population so often bruised. A tragedy that is not over.”
Indeed, since the cease fire signed on November 10 last year, tensions in the region remain high, especially in the new border zones, where the Azerbaïdjani Army has made several incursions in the territory of the Republic of Armenia, threatening the security of the Armenian population of these border villages.
Commenting on AGBU’s involvement in the campaign initiated by the Commune of Ixelles, Nadia Gortzounian, president of AGBU Europe, noted that “our partnership with the local authorities of Ixelles is another way to pursue our efforts not only in providing support to those in need following the humanitarian crisis in Artsakh but also to contribute to raising awareness to a wider audience of the reality of the conflict and its various impacts on the Armenian population”.
The announcement of the exhibition has been widely circulating in Ixelles. Each resident of the Commune received a flyer announcing the campaign in their personal mailbox while posters of the campaign were also in display on large billboards in the streets of Ixelles.
On view since September 27, the photo exhibition will last until November 10, the exact period of the 44-day brutal war that ravaged Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.
Photo credit: © Threesome Design Studio – Brussels