Letter to the Editor | An economic benefit to human rights violations

By now, there have been newspaper publications and plenty of social media discussions of Azerbaijan’s blockade of the independent Republic of Artsakh in the South Caucasus.

No concrete international efforts have been made to provide relief to the 120,000 Christian Armenians, who for the past six months living on their native land, have been deprived of access to the internet, electricity, gas, medicine, food supplies, pharmaceuticals and critical medical care by the dictatorial regime of Azerbaijan.

We hear about human rights violations, yet from all the failed international negotiations and the February 22, 2023 International Court of Justice ruling in favor of Armenians, Azerbaijan has shown total disregard of this order. It has further constricted the “Road to Life” by installing a government checkpoint on the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor requiring native Armenians to have Azeri passports to go back and forth to the Republic of Armenia. Four villages within Artsakh are completely cut off from the outside world. Concerns for human rights violations are valid when there is subjugation, domination and exploitation of such people. 

The hidden reason behind why such crimes have been ongoing for so long has to do with the economic forces driving it. Why did Israel, a Holocaust surviving nation, continuously sell weapons to Azerbaijan which were used in the 2020 attack against Artsakh Armenians and continues to sell them weapons to this day as tracked by military cargo flights? Israel has established new bases in the newly-occupied, previously Armenian-inhabited villages, bordering Iran. This is a way to keep Iran in check.

The Pandora Papers, which unmasks the hidden owners of offshore companies, revealed on October 4, 2021 the extent of money laundering Ilham Aliyev and his family have been conducting in British real estate and institutions. The day before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Aliyev and Putin signed an Agreement of Cooperation. Russian gas is laundered through Azeri pipelines all the way to Turkey and Italy. Europe thinks there are sanctions on Russian oil and gas, but there really are not with actors like this.

Turkey sold military drones to Azerbaijan which were used for the first time on Armenians in the 2020 war. Their effectiveness opened the market for Turkish drones. Turkey and Azerbaijan are both trying to expand their lands and create physical connections at the expense of the Republic of Armenia. Azerbaijan has been attacking and taking land from the sovereign Republic of Armenia and taking over precious pasture lands where farm animals grazed, rerouting agricultural water flow and controlling precious mines that Armenia has for metals like gold, molybdenum and copper. Several of these mines belong to a US-based company, Anglo Asian Mining, which is partially owned by former Governor John H. Sununu, whose son may be interested in bidding for the 2024 US Presidency.

There is an economic benefit for the perpetrators of human rights violations, ethnic cleansing and genocides. That is why “Never Again” referring to the crime of genocide is just a slogan and not truly taken to heart by the human rights agencies. Artsakh has not received any concrete aid from the United States or Europe despite the billions of our tax dollars that are pouring into our government’s satellite war in Ukraine. It is not the knowledge of human rights violations that make people react but exposing the microeconomics that drive it.

Edna Antonian
New Jersey


  1. Right on the mark. My best informed guess is that with declining oil revenues, Baku is seizing the gold mines in Artsakh. See Aliyevs’ Secret Mining Empire – The Panama Papers (occrp.org).

  2. And we don’t hear about those drones in the present war in ukraine. There is a recent article in the Insider about their fate.

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