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Activist group claims O.C. company supplied part in drones used by Azerbaijan to target Armenian civilians

The Armenian National Committee of America in Orange County protest Comant Industries.
The Armenian National Committee of America in Orange County held a protest in front of Comant Industries last week.
(Courtesy of ANCA OC)

The Orange County chapter of a prominent Armenian activist group claims a Fullerton company produced antennas used in drones that are killing Armenian civilians.

The Armenian National Committee of America in Orange County contends that battlefield photos released by the Armenian government show that Comant Industries has supplied antennas that are being used in Turkish Bayraktar drones.

The group says that those drones have been used by Azerbaijan in a controversial conflict over an ethnic Armenian enclave called Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. Armenians refer to the enclave as Artsakh.

The conflict, which has led to the displacement and death of many civilians, has spurred action by Armenians in the U.S., as thousands have taken to the streets in protest in Southern California.

“As an Armenian diaspora community we have done whatever we can from abroad to stop the aggression and the war crimes and the indiscriminate killing of civilians,” said Sanan Shirinian, who has been working with the Armenian National Committee of America and is a leading member of the Armenian community in Orange County. “And we’ve just become aware that a U.S.-based company actually here right in our backyard in Fullerton is applying the antenna use in drones which are killing innocent civilians.

“We feel that it’s our due diligence to make our voices heard and make sure that this company stopped doing business and selling their antennas to war criminals.”

A social media post by the Armenian National Committee of America showing an antenna made by Comant Industries.
A social media post by the Armenian National Committee of America showing an antenna made by Comant Industries.
(Courtesy of Armenian National Committee of America)

The Armenian activist group held a protest in front of Comant’s building last week and sent a letter to the company calling for them to “cease the sale” of antenna parts to Turkey and “take a strong moral stance on this issue.”

The letter detailed how members of the Armenian community in Orange County have family and friends in the areas targeted by the drones.

“Our community is directly impacted as we worry about the safety and security of our loved ones,” the letter reads.

Comant did not respond to numerous voicemails.

However, Comant general manager Josh Jones sent a response letter to the group, which provided TimesOC with that letter.

“Thank you for your letter which raises a number of questions about the apparent use of a Comant antenna in the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” the letter reads.

“This specific antenna you refer to is a VOR/GS navigation antenna designed for commercial and military purposes and was sold in 2017. I wanted to reassure you that Comant Industries has a long-established and rigorous business ethic and compliance system in place. We only sell and ship products in strict compliance with export regulations, including U.S. and U.K. regulations.

“Finally, like you, we hope the violence you described in your letter can be brought to an end as quickly as possible.”

Greg Mikhanjian, spokesperson for the Armenian National Committee Orange County chapter, said the response was “inadequate.” He said the group will continue to put pressure on the company.

“They need to reveal any and all sales of its products, tech or services to Turkish weapons manufacturers and announce publicly that it’s instructing all its wholesalers, retailers, any other partners, that they have to cease any and all transactions or transfers, with the Turkish or Azerbaijani military or related entities,” Mikhanjian said. “They haven’t done that...and it was not a commitment to that promise to stop sales.”

The local chapter discovered the photographic evidence of the antenna from a series of battlefield photos that were released by the Armenian government, Mikhanjian said. The photos also implicate a series of other U.S. companies that are supplying parts for the drones.

The group posted the photos to its Instagram account and began contacting each company with demands to cease supplying Turkey with the technology.

Mikhanjian said that some of the companies have complied. He said another protest against Comant is likely but has not yet been scheduled.

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