“Azerbaijan threatens the civilian population of NK and Armenia” – Lemkin Institute
Lemkin Institute report on the situation in NK
The experts of the Lemkin Institute studied the proposals to prevent deaths from starvation, as well as forced relocation of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. Among other proposals is the delivery of humanitarian aid to the population, which has been under blockade for almost 9 months, by air transportation.
The document also says that there is a “huge obstacle” to the inclusion of the unrecognized republic into Azerbaijan, consisting of “inconsistency and inequality with the political system of Azerbaijan”. Analysts at the Institute, citing a study by Transparency International, declare that Azerbaijan has a “consolidated authoritarian regime.” While the human rights organization Freedom House in 2023 classified the unrecognized NKR as “partially free”, assigning a “freedom score” of 37 out of 100. This rating gave Armenia a score of 35 and Azerbaijan a score of 9.
“Accepting citizenship of a dictatorship is the same as giving up one’s civil liberties and agreeing to be subjected to pressure,” the report said.
The authors of the report say its urgent publication is due to “the dire consequences of the blockade and the accumulation of Azerbaijani military forces around Nagorno-Karabakh and along Armenia’s border.”
“Geopolitical turbulence persists”
According to the report, the end of the 44-day war in Karabakh in 2020 and the deployment of Russian peacekeepers there “have not brought peace to the region, geopolitical turbulence persists.” The institute’s experts list cases of ceasefire violations by Azerbaijan, analyze the consequences of blocking the Lachin corridor and warn:
“Azerbaijani forces continue to threaten the civilian population through harassment, indiscriminate shelling of Artsakh and Armenia, and the killing and abduction of Armenians, violating the trilateral ceasefire declaration.”
The Lemkin Institute report also refers to Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian policy in general:
“The deep hatred of Armenians by the Aliyev regime and Azerbaijani government institutions leads us to the conclusion that Azerbaijan is a genocidal state. This fact must be taken into account before any peace can be established in the region. There is disturbing evidence that President Aliyev may be planning a military attack on Artsakh in the very near future.
Azerbaijan continues to shell populated areas in the Gegharkunik region of the Republic of Armenia, concentrating its forces also along the entire line of contact with Artsakh. A military attack on Artsakh could lead to genocide. It will almost certainly lead to the forcible expulsion of Armenians from here and the large-scale commission of atrocities similar to those committed during the second Karabakh war of 2020 and subsequent hostilities.”
Suggestions from Lemkin Institute experts
The organization, which declares its goal to prevent genocide, has periodically issued statements since July 2021 calling attention to threats to Armenians living in unrecognized NKR. Following the blockade of the Lachin corridor linking the region to Armenia, the Lemkin Institute has also repeatedly warned of the dangers posed to civilians.
In their extensive emergency report, the organization’s experts suggest that the international community take the following measures to prevent starvation and forced deportation of Armenians from the territory of NK, as well as prevent possible genocidal manifestations against Armenians of Armenia:
- “publicly recognize the threat of genocide of Armenians in Artsakh and Armenia,
- demand immediate cessation of the blockade of the Lachin corridor,
- immediately airlift humanitarian aid to the citizens of Artsakh,
- actively intervene to protect Artsakh from an armed attack by Azerbaijan”.
Update on the situation in the blockade region
The unrecognized NKR has been blockaded since December 12, 2022, and since June 15 of this year Azerbaijan has banned all types of humanitarian supplies. That is, neither Russian peacekeepers nor the International Committee of the Red Cross have been allowed to transport food, basic necessities and medicines anymore. According to the local information headquarters, the Red Cross and Russian peacekeepers have recently been transporting only people and only in one direction – to Armenia, “with interruptions of transportation permits and additional obstacles.”
“However, the transportation of people by Russian peacekeepers has also been suspended since August 28, following the kidnapping by Azerbaijani armed forces of three students from Artsakh at the Azerbaijani checkpoint on the Hakari Bridge,” the headquarters said.
During the blockade, 765 patients in need of specialized treatment were transported to Armenia with the mediation and accompaniment of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Another 70 people were transported under the escort of Russian peacekeepers.
In late August, peacekeepers organized the transfer of several dozen students studying in Armenian and foreign universities, as well as Russian citizens. However, while crossing the Azerbaijani checkpoint, three young men were detained on charges of “disrespecting the Azerbaijani flag.” Azerbaijani media report that they will be deported to Armenia after 10 days of detention.
The bulletin of the information headquarters summarizes the consequences of the blockade:
- planned operations in all medical institutions have been stopped, 1,910 citizens have been deprived of the opportunity to solve their health problems through surgery;
- almost 17,000 people lost their jobs and source of income, more than 90% of private sector workers;
- 5,715 tons of vital goods were imported during the 268 days of the blockade, which is about 19 times less than it would have been without the blockade;
- for the last 4 days only Red Cross vehicles have passed through the Azerbaijani checkpoint;
- during the blockade Azerbaijan completely or partially cut off gas supply from Armenia for a total of 201 days, electricity supply was completely cut off for 239 days;
- the economy was damaged to the amount of about 509 million dollars.
Lemkin Institute report on the situation in NK