When on the morning of April 2, 2016, news started trickling in of clashes along the Karabakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact, no one could have foreseen or predicted the outcome. It became the worst violence since the 1994 ceasefire that brought the Karabakh War to a tenuous end and came to be known as the Four Day War.
According to official estimates, around 300 military personnel and civilians were killed over the course of a few days of intense clashes. No one knows what the real numbers are. Both official Yerevan/Stepanakert and Baku released enough information as they deemed necessary for their respective populations. It was the reality of war.
The roots of EVN Report can be traced to that war.
In the midst of personal and collective turmoil, I was using social media platforms to report on what was taking place on the front lines. Granted, I was using only official statements from the Defense Ministry of Armenia and the Defense Army of Karabakh, because there was no other verifiable, credible news to be found. It was only the second or third day that the military allowed controlled access to journalists near the Line of Contact, and even then it was almost impossible to comprehend the breadth and depth of what was transpiring.
I was translating those official statements from Armenian to English as soon as they would be released. I was Tweeting, posting on my Facebook page and penning articles on my blog in English. I’m still at a loss as to why I felt the need to get the word out to the world, but we were trapped in an echo chamber of our own doing.
Soon, international media outlets, trying to understand the situation in this faraway corner of the world began reaching out. Along with a few others based in Armenia, I was trying to fill in the gaps of reporting in English to Al Jazeera, BBC, Euronews, along with print publications. Friends, colleagues and family from around the world were calling and writing, trying to understand how the situation could have spun out of control the way it did, looking for answers and reassurance.
The idea to create an English-language media platform to fill the missing gaps of coverage began to formulate. A platform that would not just write the headlines, but help people understand the context of those headlines in a deeper more profound way. A platform that would serve as a space for critical discourse, to understand the forces and factors shaping our reality.
While these thoughts followed me around for the next several months, a group of armed men seized a police station in one of the suburbs of Yerevan on an ordinary summer day, and the country was thrown into chaos once again. The Sasna Dzrer, as the group called themselves, stayed holed up in the police station for close to two weeks before surrendering to security forces.
One of the strangest twists to the siege was witnessing thousands of people take to the streets to support the armed action of the Sasna Dzrer. Some Armenian officials went so far as to label them terrorists. Questions began surfacing - in what country would ordinary people support the takeover of a police station that would leave two police officers dead? The contradictory emotions of the average person of this country surfaced to the precipice of our consciousness, yet we did not try to critically understand how and why this occurred.
While the Four Day War triggered the idea for EVN Report, the Sasna Dzrer siege cemented the need for a platform that would serve as a gateway to Armenia for the international community, diplomatic missions, the Armenian Diaspora and for Armenians in Armenia.
Thus begun months of preparation.
EVN Report weaves together stories that define us, provides a collaborative space for critical discourse and helps us navigate the complexities of our lives through the power of the written and spoken word.
We provide in-depth news, analysis and commentary from Armenia and the region. Our mission is to help our readers not only understand those forces and factors shaping Armenian reality, but help engage society in a higher level of discourse. We ask tough questions and dig deeper to understand who is constructing the conversation and why.
EVN Report is also a platform that seeks to position Armenia not as a mere curiosity, an obscure footnote, but a place that has promise, a country and a nation that is part of the global fabric of humanity and will one day rise to meet its full potential.
Our contributors are from Armenia, the Diaspora and beyond. They represent diverse disciplines and expertise. Read their analyses, their commentaries and their thoughts, listen to our podcasts, lose yourself in the images and words of people trying to make a change and join the conversation.