Hundreds of protesters waving Armenian and American flags gathered outside SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne Thursday, calling on Elon Musk to nix the launch of a satellite they say could aid in war crimes.
“SpaceX is about to launch a satellite for Turkey that has certain cutting edge technology that can be used in war time for more pinpoint accuracy, for more specific types of attacks,” said protest organizer Fred Tatlyan.
Demonstrators said they’re urging Musk, the CEO of Tesla and space exploration company SpaceX, to halt the November launch of a communications satellite for the government of Turkey, which is currently aiding its ally Azerbaijan in a war against Armenia over the autonomous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, also called Artsakh.
“I’ve always looked up to Elon Musk. So I’m not here to bash him just yet. But I would hope his morale kicks in and he’s on the right side of history right now,” Tatlyan said.
Armenian Americans say the technological tool would give Turkey, and subsequently Azerbaijan, an unfair advantage over Armenia while the countries are at war and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh face heavy artillery, rockets and drones.
“If SpaceX launches this satellite into space, it’ll give Turkey the capacity and the ability to kill without being checked or stopped by anyone else,” protester Harry Barsegyan said.
On Wednesday, an Azerbaijani rocket hit a maternity hospital in the disputed border region, an attack the center’s chief doctor denounced as “inhumane,” according to the Associated Press.
The more than one month of fighting has prompted concerns of a wider conflict involving Turkey, which is supporting Azerbaijan, and Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia, the AP reported.
Genocide Watch issued a Genocide Emergency Alert “due to Azerbaijan’s aggression against the Armenian Republic of Artsakh” over the deadly dispute that started on Sept. 27. The recent flare-up in the decades old conflict has raised painful memories of the Armenian genocide of 1915, which Turkey still denies.
KTLA reached out to SpaceX for comment and had not heard back Thursday afternoon.