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Open letter to President Biden: Stop the second Armenian genocide

People protest during a rally against the country's agreement to end fighting with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region outside the government headquarters in Yerevan, Armenia on Nov. 11, 2020. More than 2,000 demonstrators protested in the Armenian capital as anger mounted over Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's decision to cede swathes of disputed territory to Azerbaijan under a controversial peace deal. |

The Armenian genocide was committed in 1915 by Ottoman Turkey. Around 1.5 million Armenians perished in the genocide. One hundred and eight years later, the world is witnessing a second Armenian genocide, and tragically no one is taking action to stop it.

The victims are the indigenous Armenian Christians of the landlocked Armenian Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (also known as Artsakh) in the South Caucasus. The perpetrator is the government of Azerbaijan.

Since December 12, 120,000 Armenians living in Artsakh have been held hostage by the Azeri government within the borders of their ancestral land. The only road connecting Artsakh with the outside world (the Lachin Corridor) has remained blocked by Azerbaijan's orchestration. The Azeri government has created a humanitarian disaster through so-called “eco-activists” and this crisis will soon reach a critical point.

Media coverage has been scarce. Diplomatic responses from the world have been weak and ineffective.

On January 25, the Philos Project, an organization devoted to supporting indigenous Christian communities in the Near East, issued an open letter to President Joe Biden. The letter called on him to “avert a second Armenian genocide by taking decisive action now.”

“The lives of 120,000 Armenians and nearly 1,700 years of Christian culture hang in the balance,” wrote Robert Nicholson, President of The Philos Project.

Among this number are 30,000 children who remain deprived of daily nutrition and medical supplies. Hospitalized patients on life-support are struggling. Furthermore, all educational institutions have been shut down due to a lack of resources.

All supplies are now rationed, including critical medical and food sources. Sporadic gas, electricity, and internet connections keep the population frozen, hungry, and isolated. People are placed under severe psychological oppression. 

As a result of Azerbaijan's illegal blockade and its deliberate disruption of critical infrastructure of this Armenian republic, the people's right to adequate livelihoods such as heating, hot water, and food production and access to food and medical supplies, as well as their right to healthcare and education have been systematically violated by Azerbaijan. According to the 7th article of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “Extermination includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population.” That is exactly what Azerbaijan is doing to the people of Artsakh —  extermination through the deprivation of food and medicine.

Global governments, however, have been mostly silent. The lack of a swift response to Azerbaijan’s illegal actions further enables Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev's pursuit of ethnic cleansing with absolute impunity. 

The letter by Philos Project noted:

“Day by day the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh grows more dire, as routine shipments of basic supplies, medicines, and food supply on which the region is utterly dependent remain completely shut off, save a handful of International Red Cross humanitarian convoys. Soon the situation will become untenable for the 120,000 Armenians of Artsakh. That’s why we joined a recent warning issued by the Armenian National Committee of America that describes how more than a dozen risk factors for crimes against humanity are present in this mountain enclave. Some feel we are on the verge of a second Armenian genocide.”

Meanwhile, the European Parliament adopted a joint motion for a resolution on the humanitarian consequences of the blockade in Nagorno-Karabakh, urging Azerbaijan to "immediately reopen the Lachin corridor to enable free movement and ensure access to essential goods and services, thus guaranteeing security in the region and safeguarding residents’ livelihoods." 

President Biden, as the leader of the free world, it is your administration that must make a swift decision right now: Will you save the lives of 120,000 innocent people or will you allow Azerbaijan to commit yet another Armenian genocide?

Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist and political analyst formerly based in Ankara. Her writings have appeared in The Washington Times, The American Conservative, The Christian Post, The Jerusalem Post, and Al-Ahram Weekly. Her work focuses mainly on human rights, Turkish politics and history, religious minorities in the Middle East, and antisemitism.

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