Armenians call on the international community to act to prevent the “genocide” in Nagorno-Karabakh | International

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Since last December, Azerbaijan began to block the passage through the so-called Lachín corridor, which connects Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, the situation in this Armenian enclave has not stopped worsening. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find food, medicine and other essentials and, according to the Armenian authorities, one death from starvation has already occurred. Despite the resolutions of the UN International Court of Justice, Baku has refused to lift the siege, something that the local authorities describe as "genocide" for which they ask the international community to mobilize to convince Azerbaijan to allow the passage of humanitarian aid.

“We have already suffered cases of starvation. And the situation is getting worse day by day, because the lack of fuel prevents us from transporting, from running hospitals, from agriculture. This is a deliberate action to starve us to death,” Sergei Ghazarián, foreign minister of the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, as the Armenians call the enclave, denounced at a press conference on Thursday. For this reason, he called for more pressure on Azerbaijan after an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council concluded on Wednesday without tangible results: "The Convention against Genocide obliges the parties to apply all measures to prevent it."

"One of the ways to commit genocide is to inflict the conditions that allow the physical destruction of a group and this is already happening," said former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo at the press conference this Thursday. At the request of the Armenian party, Moreno Ocampo has drawn up a report on whether the blockade is compatible with the crimes contemplated in the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and the conclusion is that it is.

“There are no crematoriums or machete attacks. Hunger is the invisible genocidal weapon. Without a dramatic change, this group of Armenians will be destroyed in weeks”, argues the Argentine jurist in his report, which compares the situation with that experienced by the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire in 1915, by Poles and Jews in 1939, by the Russians of Leningrad in 1941 and with the Bosnians of Srebrenica in 1995. Therefore, it concludes that there is already a "genocide" underway under heading C of Article II of the Convention: "Intentional subjection of the group to conditions of existence that will lead to their physical destruction, total or partial.

Armenian trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh region stranded not far from an Azerbaijani checkpoint set up at the entrance to the Lachin corridor on July 30.
Armenian trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh region stranded not far from an Azerbaijani checkpoint set up at the entrance to the Lachin corridor on July 30.KAREN MINASYAN (AFP)

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The Lachín corridor connects Nagorno-Karabakh with the neighboring Republic of Armenia and is its umbilical cord: most of the products necessary for the survival of the enclave arrive through it. After the 2020 war, Baku regained control of this strip which, like Nagorno-Karabakh, is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory. In the ceasefire agreement, Azerbaijan agreed to allow free transit through this road, which was left under the control of Russian peacekeepers. However, since December, it has progressively established obstacles until it culminated in the creation of a check point which the Azerbaijani authorities justify in the need to "stop the illegal flow of arms, military equipment and soldiers", but which has served to stop all trafficking in practice.

alternative delivery route

Jurist Rodney Dixon, who has been asked by Azerbaijan for his opinion on the Moreno Ocampo accusations, has assured that the qualification of genocide "has no basis" and that it does not take into account that Azerbaijan has offered an alternative supply route from the east that avoid contact with the Republic of Armenia. In exchange, yes, he demands that the Armenians of Nagorno Karabagh dissolve their institutions and fully integrate into Azerbaijan.

In a February ruling that it reiterated last July, the International Court of Justice required Azerbaijan to "take all measures within its power to ensure the unimpeded movement of people, vehicles and cargo in both directions of the Lachin corridor." Also, the OSCE, the European Union and the United States have called for the blockade to be lifted. But the situation has not changed.

“Every morning we wake up and think if we are going to be able to give our children bread. It is an existential problem that I face every day. I'm not saying find food, just bread. The queues are endless and you don't know if it will be over when your turn comes," said Albina Nersesián, a resident of Nagorno Karabakh, via videoconference.

The last time peacekeepers and the International Committee of the Red Cross were allowed to bring food through Lachín was on June 14. Since then, only some drug deliveries have been allowed, which also stopped a month ago. Hence, the Armenian authorities have requested the evacuation of about fifty dialysis patients, since they can no longer be treated. In addition, this week, the Ombudsman assured that the first death from hunger occurred: a 40-year-old man identified as K. Hovhannisián. The forensic examination attributes his death to "severe alimentary dystrophy" caused by "chronic malnutrition" and "protein and energy deficiency". Since the start of the blockade, miscarriages due to poor nutrition have also increased.

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