International Association of Genocide Scholars issues statement condemning the Azerbaijani blockade of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)

The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) Executive and Advisory Boards strongly condemns Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and the ongoing aggression against the indigenous Armenian population of the region and warns of the risk of genocide against the Armenian population of that entity. We reaffirm the IAGS Executive Board October 24, 2022 “Statement on Azerbaijani Aggression Against the Republic of Armenia and the Indigenous Armenians of the South Caucasus” and call for the immediate lifting of the blockade.

On December 12, 2022 the government of Azerbaijan imposed a blockade on the enclave of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) creating an ongoing humanitarian crisis for its 120,000 Armenian inhabitants, including 30,000 children and 20,000 elderly. Azerbaijani operatives, masquerading as so-called “eco-activists,” blocked the only land route, the Lachin Corridor, from the Republic of Armenia to Artsakh thereby preventing food, medicine, gas and other vital goods from transiting into the region. Food and gas are now rationed and electricity supplies interrupted. Schools are closed, families separated, hospital patients endangered and normal life brought to a standstill.

Azerbaijan’s actions are a clear violation of the human rights of the residents of Artsakh. The blockade and deliberate attacks on the critical infrastructure of Artsakh are a violation of Article 11.1, Right to Adequate Standard of Living and Article 12, The Right to Healthcare of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:

  • During the blockade, Azerbaijan deliberately cut off the gas supply four times: on December 13 (for 3 days), January 17 (for 1 day), January 18 (for 3 days) and January 21. Gas supply was deliberately earlier cut off in March 2022 for 20 days.
  • On January 9, 2023, the sole high-voltage line supplying electricity to Artsakh from Armenia, was damaged in the Aghavno-Berdzor section under Azerbaijani control. Azerbaijani authorities have not allowed repair work to be conducted on the damaged section, necessitating the implementation of rolling blackouts.
  • On January 12, 2023, the Azerbaijanis deliberately cut the sole fiber-optic cable supplying Internet connection to Artsakh from Armenia in the section of the Stepanakert-Goris highway where the Azerbaijanis have established their blockade.

This blockade is also in clear violation of the November 9, 2020 trilateral ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia between Armenia and Azerbaijan that guaranteed unhindered access through the Lachin Corridor.

As we noted in our October 24, 2022 statement: “Significant genocide risk factors exist in the Nagorno-Karabakh situation concerning the Armenian population.” The government of Azerbaijan, encouraged by its ally Turkey, has long promoted official hatred of Armenians, has fostered impunity for atrocities committed against Armenians, and has issued repeated threats to empty the region of its indigenous Armenian population.

In order to remove the risk of genocide, the International Association of Genocide Scholars Executive and Advisory Boards calls upon Azerbaijan:

  • to cease its orchestration and support of the alleged ‘protests’ blocking uninterrupted free movement along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.
  • to ensure uninterrupted free movement of all persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.
  • to cease its disruptions of gas, electricity and the fiber-optic cable to Artsakh.

The International Association of Genocide Scholars Executive and Advisory Boards reiterates its earlier October 24, 2022 condemnation of Azerbaijan and calls upon:

  • The international community and academic and cultural organizations to condemn violence and hate speech by Azerbaijan against Armenia and take all necessary measures to compel Azerbaijan to cease hostilities and hate speech against the Republic of Armenia and the indigenous Armenians of Artsakh.
  • Azerbaijan to comply with the International Court of Justice Provisional Measures order of 7 December 2021.
  • Azerbaijan to remove its soldiers from the territory of the Armenian Republic and to respect the right of self-determination of the Armenians of Artsakh as guaranteed under the United Nations Charter (Chapter I, Article 2).
  • The international community to hold the authoritarian regime of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accountable for the crime of aggression (crimes against peace), war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian law (blockades and embargoes that cause starvation) perpetrated against Armenia and Armenians since September 2020.

30 January 2023

The International Association of Genocide Scholars is a global, interdisciplinary, non-partisan organization that seeks to further research and teaching about the nature, causes, and consequences of genocide, and advance policy studies on genocide prevention.

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