“Armenians of NK have been held hostage for the third day” – statement of the Armenian Parliament
Humanitarian catastrophe in Nagorno-Karabakh
“Azerbaijan is constantly demanding new concessions, after which one day it will say: “Go on, get out of here.” But we don’t have the right to retreat,” Artak Beglaryan, adviser to the state minister of the unrecognized NKR, said during a rally in front of the UN office in Yerevan. He began an indefinite sit-in in defense of the interests and rights of compatriots.
Beglaryan believes that it is imperative to solve not only the issue of unblocking the Lachin corridor, the only road linking NK with Armenia, but to restore the gas supply, cut off since December 13. He believes that without additional guarantees, after some time Azerbaijan may repeat everything that is happening now in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Several more protests were held in Yerevan in front of the UN building, at the Russian embassy, and the Armenian government. At an extraordinary meeting, parliament adopted a statement condemning Azerbaijan’s actions. At the time of writing, information appeared that Armenia had applied to the European Court of Human Rights to demand the application of interim measures against Azerbaijan and obliging them to unblock the Lachin corridor.
For the third day, a group of Azerbaijanis who declared themselves environmental activists has blocked the Lachin corridor. Since the evening of December 13 the gas supply has been cut off, owing to which hospitals and schools have reduced operations.
120,000 Armenians of NK are under blockade, on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. It is reported that food and medicine will last only a few days. 1,100 people, of whom 270 are children, have been deprived of the opportunity to return home. There are five seriously ill patients in NK hospitals who need specialized medical care in Yerevan, but for the time being it is not possible to transport them. Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan appealed to the World Health Organization.
In order to “ensure the normal life of the population of Artsakh and prevent possible threats,” NK declared de facto martial law.
“Declaring an indefinite sit-in” – State Minister’s Adviser
NK State Minister Advisor Artak Beglaryan announced an initiative to start a sit-in in front of the UN building on Facebook. He also wrote that
- “UN bodies should condemn the genocidal actions of Azerbaijan and the blockade of the people of Artsakh,
- The UN Security Council must resolve the issue of ensuring the security of the people of Artsakh by providing clear international guarantees,
- five permanent members of the UN Security Council (USA, Russia, France, Great Britain, China) and the European Union should condemn Azerbaijan’s actions and take practical measures to curb Azerbaijan.”
Beglaryan urged people in Armenia to “put pressure on the embassies of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council with various actions”, demanding clear action. He called on foreign compatriots and Armenians of the Diaspora to organize actions of disobedience in their countries.
He then began his sit-in in front of the UN office.
Beglaryan said that he is on vacation, acting as a citizen of Nagorno-Karabakh and, if necessary, will write a letter of resignation. Moreover, he is in Yerevan, as he did not have the chance to return due to the blocking of the Lachin corridor.
According to him, NK is threatened with a humanitarian catastrophe, and international bodies must react quickly, otherwise it will be too late. To protect the vital interests and rights of people, it is necessary to use “all possible tools”.
“It is necessary not only to unblock the road and resolve the issue of gas supply, but also to obtain additional guarantees that such a situation will not happen again. Azerbaijan will have to pay a high price for this, be it sanctions or military, political and legal instruments. Otherwise, it will constantly overstep red lines in small steps, get concessions, absorb Artsakh and Armenia,” he warned.
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“120,000 hostages” – the Parliament of Armenia announces
The ruling faction “Civil Contract” discussed at an extraordinary meeting and adopted a draft statement “On inciting a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan,” with 57 deputies voting for. The opposition factions “Hayastan” and “I have the honor” did not take part either in the discussion or in the voting.
The Council of the National Assembly rejected a draft statement from the opposition factions and approved a document submitted by the ruling majority. Deputies from “Civil Contract” argue that the project of the opposition “did not proceed from the interests of Armenia.”
During the discussions, MP Vigen Khachatryan stated that Russia wants to draw Armenia into a war with Azerbaijan.
“The Russian Federation wants to give up Karabakh and get Armenia, we must understand this. And we just need to engage in [direct] dialogue with Azerbaijan and international partners.”
According to Khachatryan, “revanchists-oppositionists of Armenia dream of war”, because this is the only opportunity “to suffer another defeat in the war, as a result of which they would come to power in the Russian province.”
In the statement, the deputies call on Russia to take measures “to ensure the full implementation of the provisions of the tripartite statement in the zone controlled by Russian peacekeepers,” in particular unhindered movement along the Lachin corridor.
It is emphasized that the road was blocked “illegally”, and the provisions of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh, signed by the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan, have been wantonly violated.
“Thousands of people, including children, are stuck on the roads in a cold winter, many families unwittingly ending up on opposite sides of the blockade. Citizens with serious health problems are deprived of medicines and medical services. The supply of food and other essential commodities has been disrupted. 120,000 people in the blockade actually ended up in the status of hostages,” the statement says.
The deputies expect that the international community will strictly and specifically condemn the actions of Azerbaijan:
“In the current situation, it is imperative to launch or restart international mechanisms for ensuring the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The Armenian Parliament calls on the UN Security Council, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and member states to “send a fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh to monitor the humanitarian situation.”
Protests in Yerevan
A group of NK residents gathered at the Russian embassy to protest, which they said was not of an anti-Russian or political nature, they are simply fighting for their rights. They demanded that Russia fulfill the obligations under the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, and ensure safe movement along the Lachin corridor.
Later, dozens of people gathered in front of the government building on Republic Square. A rally of the Republican Party of Armenia was also held there. Its supporters argue that the main culprit of the current situation is the current government who, instead of solving problems, is busy “serving the agenda of the Azerbaijanis.”
“Russia is going to make a targeted statement”
Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Alen Simonyan stated that Russia will make a statement, and said that United States, France and the European Union have already made statements regarding the closure of the Lachin corridor by Azerbaijan:
“According to the information we have, the Russian Federation is going to make a similar statement, which the Armenian people have long been waiting for from their strategic ally. Let’s hope that this time our partners will not disappoint.”
Moscow has not yet commented on the situation. Yesterday, in a message published on the website of the Russian Defense Ministry, there was information about the blocking of the Lachin corridor. “The command of the Russian peacekeeping forces is negotiating with representatives of Azerbaijan on the resumption of the unhindered movement of civilian vehicles along the Stepanakert-Goris highway,” the report said.
The Speaker of the Parliament noted that there is a need to extend the term of the Russian peacekeeping mission stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh, but “perhaps, not only the peacekeepers of the Russian Federation, but also other international bodies should be considered.”
“Artsakh is ready for negotiations”
This was stated live by State Minister Ruben Vardanyan, who added: “if it is acceptable to all parties.”
“We are well aware of the problems that Russian peacekeepers face, but we insist that the road must be unblocked.”
In addition to the problems of citizens unable to return home, Vardanyan also talked about problems with fuel, that a rationing system has already been introduced for everyone, including state institutions.
The information headquarters of the NK also issued a statement about the shortage of fuels, noting that in order to prevent a “fuel crisis”, the government agreed with entrepreneurs on switching to rationing:
“At car filling stations, fuel will be given out on a priority basis to ambulances, public transport and special services.”
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Catholicos of All Armenians appeals to international structures
The Armenian Apostolic Church issued a statement in which it condemned the “provocation committed by the Azerbaijani authorities”, calling on the head of the Caucasian Muslims Office “to take real and objective steps in order to prevent actions that aggravate the situation.”
Catholicos Garegin II sent appeals to the heads of churches, international and inter-church organizations. The church expects that the international community will give an adequate assessment of the actions of Azerbaijan, “violating the fundamental norms of human rights and threatening the fragile peace and stability in the region.”
“The current situation confirms that safety for Artsakh Armenians is impossible under Azerbaijan.”
Humanitarian catastrophe in Nagorno-Karabakh