Cher Calls for U.S. Action Over Armenian Conflict in New PSA

Cher - Artist's Dinner  - 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors - Getty-H 2020
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The Armenian superstar preaches "outrage isn't enough, raising awareness isn't enough" amid the conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Continuing her support of the Armenian people, Cher stars in a new PSA video amid the armed conflict between ethnic Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, urging U.S. government action.

"The pandemic, election and other important issues in the world are distracting people from the ethnic cleansing campaign removing Armenian civilians from their ancestral home in Artsakh. Azerbaijan has attacked Armenia with the assistance of Turkey; given the history of Armenians and Turkey and the genocide, the records of human rights violations, it is time to cut and impose sanctions on these countries," the Armenian American superstar says in the clip. "With all the needs within our own country, why do we send American taxpayer dollars and sell weapons to these authoritarian regimes? Outrage isn't enough, raising awareness isn't enough. Contact your representatives now and demand action. Tell them that it must stop now."

Cher also highlights resources from the Armenian National Committee of America and Armenian Assembly of America, as well as requesting humanitarian aid to the Armenia Fund.

She has been vocal in her support of Armenia since conflict broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh on Sept. 27, where an estimated half of the population has been displaced by fighting that has taken the lives of up to 5,000 people, depending on reports. More than 100,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes.

The area's historical name is Artsakh, with nearly 150,000 ethnic Armenians residing there; although it's recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan, ethnic Armenians control it. For weeks, Armenian Americans have held large demonstrations in Los Angeles in support of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, with celebrity supporters including Kim Kardashian and Laura Dern.

On Tuesday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced he had signed an agreement with Russia and Azerbaijan to end the war over the disputed area, shortly after Azerbaijan said it captured the key city of Shusha. The news was met with protests in the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

Producer and activist Eric Esrailian, who organized the PSA and has led the charge in raising awareness around the crisis, says he and Cher are not calling for American military involvement, but for the U.S. to cut off aid and weapon sales to Azerbaijan and impose sanctions. Congress had begun working on similar language before it was derailed by Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination, pandemic relief and the election.

"Now that the election is over, I'm hoping that we can reactivate our legislators," Esrailian says, adding that the U.S. talks about "not giving in to autocratic or dictatorial regimes throughout the world, yet our actions are not consistent with our words when we allow for an oil-rich country like Azerbaijan to get United States taxpayer money for foreign aid."

He also hopes that Cher's fanbase, which extends far beyond the Armenian community, will help to engage voices around the world and gain the national media attention that has lacked in the past two months, "given the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe."

"I think that the attention that has come out in the news has been too neutral because it hasn't been well informed," Esrailian adds. "A lot of reporters are getting information that is third-hand or from state-sponsored news sources — what it ends up looking like is just two countries fighting, as opposed to one country trying to ethnically cleanse a population from another region."

Watch the PSA below: