A Campaign Pursued with Greater Determination and Severity

Protesters at government building in central Yerevan (Photo: Anthony Pizzoferrato, September 19, 2023)

“The aim of all Turks is to unite with the Turkic borders. History is affording us today the last opportunity. In order for the Islamic world not to be forever fragmented, it is necessary that the campaign against Karabakh be not allowed to abate. As a matter of fact, drive the point home in Azeri circles that the campaign should be pursued with greater determination and severity.”

–Kâzım Karabekir, Istiklâl Harbimiz, p. 631

When Azerbaijani oil holds more value to the United States’ economy than the blood of Armenian children, did we expect anything different? Or for once, did we think that the dire situation in Artsakh would have been enough for policymakers and diplomats to stand up?

So much has happened – and continues to happen – in the past 24 hours that I am not only at a loss for words, but do not even know where to begin this article. It seems like every time I sit down to report on something, something worse happens. My heart is aching for my people who have not seen peace for what feels like forever, and I pray that justice will prevail. 

We are all aware of the critical state Artsakh has been in for the past few years. With the war and the blockade, it has been difficult to concentrate on anything but the wellbeing of the people of Armenia and Artsakh. Losing Artsakh, bit by bit, has been the personal hell of all Armenians. Artsakh is part of us. It symbolizes more than just ancestral land; it is identity, history and culture.

Since December 12, 2022, the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor, which serves as the only conduit connecting the Republic of Artsakh to the outside world, has been blockaded, slowly killing the 120,000 Armenian civilians, including children, elderly and individuals with disabilities. This has been an issue in and of itself. But on September 19, 2023, things were different. A full-scale military assault by Azerbaijan was launched against Artsakh, specifically targeting and shelling Stepanakert, the capital, and ruthlessly targeting civilians and their infrastructure. 

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that it was implementing “local anti-terrorism measures in Karabakh to safeguard the well-being of Azerbaijani servicemen and reestablish the constitutional order of Azerbaijan.” Upon this “anti-terrorist” announcement, air sirens began to sound in Artsakh, as Azerbaijan began to shell the regions of Stepanakert, Askeran and Shosh, consistent with the Ministry’s demands of “the complete withdrawal of ethnic Armenian troops and the dissolution of the government in Stepanakert.”

The ministry claims that the “only way to achieve peace and stability in the region is the unconditional and complete withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and the dissolution of the puppet regime,” and that its army has come under “systematic shelling” from Armenia’s military, and that it’s goal is to “neutralize their military infrastructure” and “ultimately restore […] constitutional order.” 

Ironic, because I have never heard of bombing and shelling carried out with the purpose of restoring constitutional order. But then again, have any steps taken by brothers-in-arms Azerbaijan and Turkey made any sense until one looks at it through the lens of a chauvinistic, imperialistic pan-Turkic dream? I didn’t think so. 

Armenians on the ground have been posting updates. According to ANC Artsakh’s Gev Iskajyan via X (formerly Twitter), “Azerbaijan is currently bombing Stepanakert. Women and children are all being sent into bunkers. This is the brutality of the Azerbaijani regime, this is the cause of carelessness of the rest of the world.” 

Instantaneously, Armenians gathered in Yerevan, protesting and calling for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign for his incompetent leadership and a lack of proper government involvement throughout this humanitarian crisis. 

Details are presently unclear, but one thing is certain: we will not rest until our brothers and sisters in Artsakh are avenged. 

Please visit anca.org/alert and demand the following:

  1. U.S. intervention to stop the Artsakh genocide – consistent with our obligations under the Genocide Convention
  2. An end to all U.S. military assistance to genocidal Azerbaijan – consistent with the FREEDOM Support Act
  3. An American humanitarian airlift to Artsakh – consistent with America’s tradition of aiding at-risk populations
  4. A block on all Biden nominations to the State Department – consistent with the advise/consent role of the Senate 

Update as of September 20, 2023: 

As reported by the Artsakh Presidential Office, Artsakh authorities accepted a ceasefire agreement with the mediation of the command of the Russian peacekeepers presently stationed in Artsakh on the complete cessation of hostilities — which according to many reporters on the ground have been initiated and continued by Azerbaijani forces — from 1 p.m. on September 20, 2023. 

Prime Minister Pashinyan was not present at the negotiations. In an address on Facebook Live, he stated that the security of Armenians in Artsakh is in the hands of Russian peacekeepers.

Azerbaijan continues to shell civilians even after the ceasefire. 

The government of Artsakh and central authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan are scheduled to meet in Yevlakh on September 21, 2023. Azerbaijan will be showcasing their plan to integrate Artsakh Armenians into their society. 

The Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan stated, “Azerbaijan has received guarantees that the ‘illegal Armenian formations’ in Artsakh will be disarmed, military equipment will be transferred to Baku. Baku’s plan for the reintegration of the Armenian population of Artsakh (NK) is ready.”

While Azerbaijan’s only historical ties to the Artsakh region stem from the Stalinist age, Armenian ancestral land — which includes important churches and landmarks — has once again fallen to the enemy’s hands. 

Although the Artsakh government has not disbanded yet, there is speculation that it will at tomorrow’s meeting, which, as if it could not be cruel enough, was perfectly planned to land on September 21 – Independence Day. 

While the Armenians of Artsakh starve without food, water or medicine, Azerbaijan’s plan to weaken the population so that it has no choice but to surrender has worked. 

The world has forgotten, but we know now that everyone — and every government — has failed the Armenian people again. So please, international community, keep your thoughts and prayers to yourself. I never want to hear about the importance of human rights leave the lips of the apathetic individuals — beginning with Armenia’s own government — who have blocked out the screams and cries of the Armenian people. 

“The fate of Artsakh cannot be trusted to Azerbaijan’s genocidal Aliyev regime.” —Aram Hamparian, ANCA

Melody Seraydarian

Melody Seraydarian

Melody Seraydarian is a journalist and undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, pursuing a degree in Media Studies with a concentration in media, law and policy. Her column, "Hye Key," covers politics, culture and everything in between from a Gen-Z perspective. She is from Los Angeles, California and is an active member of her local Armenian community.


  1. Thank you, Melody. The world has forgotten, but we know now that everyone — and every government — has failed the Armenian people again. So please, international community, keep your thoughts and prayers to yourself. I never want to hear about the importance of human rights leave the lips of the apathetic individuals — beginning with Armenia’s own government — who have blocked out the screams and cries of the Armenian people. So well said!

  2. I can’t believe that quote you included at the start of the article. Shocking but not I’m not surprised. I will be honest here, I am worried for Armenia and Artsakh, and I think about the current situation day and night. With the current leadership, what the government is doing vs. what the people want is so different. I don’t know who sent who Pashinyan to Armenia, but tragedy has been plaguing us ever since he was in.

    I saw on CNN Azerbaijan that one of the reporters said they were so grateful for Pashinyan because Armenia is in the palm of Azerbaijan and Turkey’s hand. Not sure if that is the exact quotation but that was the general idea of what was said. May God Help Us.

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