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When will Christians stand up for the Armenians?

Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, Shusha, Azerbaijan
A man prays in Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shusha, Azerbaijan after it was partly destroyed by shelling in October 2020. |

The Armenian nation is at the risk of yet another genocide at the hands of Muslim Turks and Azeris.

On August 17, the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention issued a "Red Flag Alert" warning of a possible genocide by the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey against the Armenian population. The statement came after Azerbaijan ordered the evacuation of the Armenian people of the towns of Berdzor and Aghavno by August 25.  

“We call on all international and state bodies to monitor Turkey and Azerbaijan for genocidal ideology and practices, to place pressure on Turkey and Azerbaijan to cease their genocidal threats against the Armenian people, and to reinforce the security of Armenians and the Armenian identity in the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Artsakh, and in Diaspora communities worldwide.”

Among the developments that urged the Institute to issue its statement was a recent Telegram video circulating through Azerbaijani social media. The video shows an Azerbaijani soldier tying what is allegedly an Armenian skull dug up from a nearby Armenian cemetery to the back of a military truck while fellow soldiers cheer.

The Institute's warning must be taken seriously. During the past two years, Azerbaijan, and its ally, Turkey, murdered, tortured, and forcibly displaced Christian Armenians in the Armenian Republic of Artsakh.

Artsakh is one of the provinces of historical Armenia and has retained an ethnic Armenian majority for centuries. It has mostly remained a semi-independent entity and was never part of independent Azerbaijan. 

The violent crimes of Azerbaijan against Artsakh, however, are underreported. The indigenous Armenians of Artsakh were exposed to an ethnic cleansing campaign at the hands of Azerbaijan and Turkey in 2020.

Turkey provided weapon supplies and diplomatic support, allowing Azerbaijan to have the upper hand in the war. Throughout their indiscriminate shelling of Artsakh, the aggressors — Azerbaijan, and Turkey, accompanied by Syrian jihadist forces — murdered civilians, burned churches, and tortured and beheaded Armenians.

Despite the trilateral ceasefire agreement, Azerbaijan has not put an end to its aggression. Large-scale escalations are currently taking place along Lachin corridor as the government of Azerbaijan is violating the agreement without informing or negotiating with Armenia.

Azerbaijan has demanded the forceful evacuation of the Armenian people of Berdzor and Aghavno along the Lachin corridor, giving a deadline of August 25. This is yet another attempt at ethnic cleansing.  

According to a recent report by the British-Armenian humanitarian group:

“Azerbaijan continues to hold over 100 Armenian prisoners of war and civilian hostages, while the fate of hundreds of missing persons remains unresolved. According to the latest official data, almost two years after the 44-day war, 203 people are still considered missing. Almost two years have passed since the war, yet the relatives of soldiers who went missing in the 44-day war have not heard from them.”

Vahram Shemmassian, head of the Armenian Studies Program at California State University, Northridge, said in 2021 that he sees parallels between what happened 100 years ago during the 1915 Armenian genocide and what happened during the 44-day war in 2020.

“Turkey has been providing Azerbaijan with arms and terrorists from Syria to help dispose of Armenians and, more specifically, to ethnically cleanse the country in order to obtain land. The same resistance against tyranny and extermination that happened in the past is occurring again now, as an attempt to fully dispose of Armenian culture and the people apart of it.

“We are all angry about what’s happening with Armenia and Azerbaijan because they are finishing what Turkey started during World War I. Many war crimes were committed against Armenia last year [in 2020], almost identical to the genocide that was happening a century ago.”

Turkish aggression against Armenians, as well as other Christians, has a long history. Armenians are one of the first Christian nations and the indigenous population of the Armenian Highlands. They were subjected to many massacres since the 11th century by invading Turkic tribes originally from Central Asia. Many of the remaining Armenians were forcibly assimilated through conversion to Islam. Hence, today, almost all historic Armenia within the borders of modern Turkey is demographically Muslim.

It is no coincidence that almost two years after the 2020 war, Azeri aggressions against not only Artsakh but also against the borders of the Republic of Armenia are ongoing, as well as the destruction of Armenian cultural heritage by Azerbaijan, which violates international laws.

As Azerbaijan forcefully evicts Armenians from their homes, illegally holds Armenian prisoners of war, and kills Armenian soldiers, major Western powers continue to tacitly condone Azerbaijan and Turkey by their silence.

What will Christians across the world do in response? Will they choose to ignore such atrocities, or will they stand up for their persecuted Armenian brethren who are facing 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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