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Former International Criminal Court prosecutor: Artsakh blockade may amount to ‘genocide’ of Armenian population

Over 120,000 Armenians are at risk of starvation because of this blockade. Many observers have seen the recent conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia as a revival of the dark days of the Armenian Genocide of the early twentieth century, when the Ottoman government pursued the systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians, mostly Ottoman citizens within the Ottoman Empire and its successor state, the Republic of Turkey, as well as over 1,000,000 Greek Orthodox Christians and 300,000 Assyrian Christians. The similarity between the Armenian Genocide and recent events was also evidenced in Azerbaijan’s targeting of churches

For more coverage of the persecution of Christians in Azerbaijan and the areas it controls, see here.

“Nagorno-Karabakh residents say ‘disastrous’ blockade choking supplies,” by Felix Light, Reuters, August 16, 2023:

TBILISI, Aug 16 (Reuters) – Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh say it is getting harder to access food, medicines and other essential supplies as an Azerbaijani blockade of the breakaway region drags into its ninth month.

The U.N. Security Council discussed the blockade on Wednesday, after a former International Criminal Court prosecutor this month said the blockade may amount to a “genocide” of the local Armenian population – an assertion that Azerbaijan’s lawyers said was unsubstantiated and inaccurate.

Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but its population of 120,000 is overwhelmingly ethnic Armenian and the enclave’s one remaining land link to Armenia, the Lachin corridor policed by Russian peacekeepers, was first disrupted in December.

Three residents of Karabakh said basic foodstuffs, fuel and medicine were almost exhausted….

Senior U.N. aid official Edem Wosornu told the Security Council on Wednesday that the delivery of humanitarian relief by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) must be allowed to resume through any available routes.

“The ICRC is doing everything it can, but as a single organization it can only cover the most urgent needs,” she said. “Other impartial humanitarian relief must also be allowed to reach civilians who need it and a sustainable solution for safe and regular transit of people and goods must be found.”

Armenia’s foreign minister, Ararat Mirzoyan, discussed the situation in Karabakh on Wednesday with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and stressed the need to avert a “humanitarian disaster,” Russia’s TASS state news agency reported.

Karabakh’s population say they are only able to eat what can be produced locally, and even that is delivered only sporadically to Stepanakert, as farmers lack fuel to bring their products to market.

Ani Balayan, a recent high school graduate and photographer, said she had last eaten meat around two weeks ago. She said her family was surviving on bread, alongside the tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelon still available in Stepanakert’s markets.

For some weeks, footage has shown Stepanakert’s supermarket shelves bare, with little or nothing on sale.

“I went to bed hungry for several days because I could not find bread to bring home,” Balayan said.

The crisis has highlighted how Russia, preoccupied with the war in Ukraine, is struggling to project its influence in neighbouring post-Soviet states….

This month, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo described the blockade as potentially constituting a “genocide” of Karabakh Armenians and intending “to starve” them.

Rodney Dixon, a lawyer appointed by Azerbaijan to give an assessment on Ocampo’s opinion, called the view “strikingly” unsubstantiated, inflammatory and inaccurate….

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