100 DAYS: AZERBAIJAN’S TOTAL BLOCKADE OF ARTSAKH
100 DAYS: AZERBAIJAN’S TOTAL BLOCKADE OF ARTSAKH
Azerbaijan and Turkiye Resume the Armenian Genocide
by Ethnically Cleansing the Armenians of Artsakh While
the International Community Watches Without Meaningful Action
By Annick Asso
How can this conflict’s intolerable absence of media coverage still be justified? On March 26, 2023, the Lachin road, a vital life road connecting Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to Armenia, is still under the control of Azerbaijani special forces with the tacit agreement of Russia. The French government and international organizations are expected to act on this issue and finally initiate humanitarian aid to stop the ongoing ethnic cleansing.
The lives of 120,000 Armenian civilians, including 30,000 children in Artsakh, have been threatened again for over three months. Under blockade since December 12, 2022, the Republic is suffocating in inconceivable silence and embarrassing indifference. A significant action from France is expected, which has been delayed despite the promises made by President Emmanuel Macron during January 23, 2023, meeting with the representatives of the CCAF (Council of Coordination of Armenian Organizations of France) in the presence of renowned intellectuals, Sylvain Tesson and Jean-Christophe Buisson at the forefront. The Senate and the National Assembly have indeed unanimously passed resolutions condemning Azerbaijan and calling for sanctions against its leaders; however, these votes have, so far, been followed by no effect. Morally, historically, and culturally committed to the side of Armenia, France must act to stop the ongoing ethnic cleansing and firmly sanction Azerbaijan. And this involves, as a priority, in response to the gravity of the situation, significant humanitarian action promised by President Emmanuel Macron.
Silence for 100 days, the Lachin corridor, the only access road connecting Artsakh to Armenia, is completely closed under the false pretext that alleged Azerbaijani environmental activists are operating on the site, while investigations have proven that Azerbaijani special forces are on the ground.
Silence, for 100 days, Armenia and Artsakh have been subjected to a low-intensity war conducted by revisionist states that, beyond this region, contest even the borders of Armenia, now referred to as ‘Western Azerbaijan,’ which is a historical nonsense and a violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Armenia and international law.
Silence for 100 days, Artsakh has become an open-air prison where residents lack everything: food, supplies, and the most basic hygiene products. Azerbaijan randomly cuts off gas, electricity, and internet networks, plunging residents of this mountainous nation where temperatures can reach -10 degrees during the cold winter. Children no longer attend school, and schools have had to close due to a lack of heating and operating funds.
Silence, for 100 days, children in the Stepanakert hospital run out of medicine and cannot receive treatment. Only a few have been evacuated urgently to Yerevan by the Red Cross. Two hundred babies are born, but what will their future be in a region devastated by the 2020 war and probably by a new conflict that is secretly being planned?
For 100 days, the Armenian population of Artsakh has been dying silently due to the international community’s indifference.
As Armenia, the USA, France, and many countries around the world prepare to commemorate, as every year, on April 24, 2023, the genocide of Armenians in 1915, let us insist that the duty of memory does not exempt us from acting to help the Armenians who are the target of a new ethnic cleansing in Artsakh.
During the genocide perpetrated by the Young Turks in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, tortured, and massacred in total indifference and silence. Pertj Zeytountsian, a famous Armenian writer and, playwright, former Minister of Culture in Armenia, recounted in his play The Great Silence (Medz Lerutjun in Armenian) the beheading of the Armenian elite on April 24, 1915, through the figure of two eminent poets Rupen Sevag and Daniel Varoujan, and emphasized the silence that surrounded their extermination and, with them, that of an entire population condemned to deportation to the first concentration and extermination camps of the 20th century in the deserts of Syria. France recognized the genocide of Armenians in 2001, and many other countries as well. Commemorating this first genocide of the 20th century can only retain its meaning today from a perspective of prevention so that such crimes do not happen again. However, when President Ilham Aliyev declares with impunity that for the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh, it is ‘the suitcase or the coffin,’ what are we witnessing if not the explicitly announced continuation of the 1915 genocide? Let us act so that such statements, reinforced by those of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who explicitly designates Armenians as ‘the remains of the sword,’ do not lead to the last act of a tragedy that never ends and of which the international community would be complicit, once again, through its indifference.
The absence of condemnation of Azerbaijan and applicable sanctions by the international community can only encourage the dictator Ilham Aliyev to pursue his expansionist, revisionist, and genocidal policy. On February 22, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, ordered Azerbaijan to end the blockade of the Lachin corridor, which represents a minor diplomatic victory for Armenia. However, not only does Azerbaijan refuse to execute the ICJ’s order requiring the unblocking of the corridor, but it also regularly commits new crimes against Armenians: daily shootings are reported, and several civilians have been killed or abducted in ambushes. Once again, France, the EU, and the international community remain silent.
Economic and geostrategic interests and other conflicts on Europe’s doorstep must not condemn Armenians to die in silence again. One hundred eight years after the 1915 genocide, the Armenians of Artsakh have acquired the right to live in peace on their ancestral lands. The Armenian population of Artsakh is now threatened with ethnic cleansing on its territory. Historically and morally, France must intervene to immediately lift the blockade on the Lachin corridor, which has been going on for more than three months, and to send a humanitarian convoy to demonstrate true solidarity in action towards Armenia.