Artsakh: Armenian Christians need protecting

Artsakh: Armenian Christians need protecting

Kanako Mita, Sawako Utsumi, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Armenians suffered horrendous pogroms in the 1890s at the hands of the Turks. Other Christian minorities – Assyrians and Pontic Greeks – would also be butchered in this period of history by the Turks and various Muslim ethnic allies. By 1915, the Armenian Genocide began in earnest – along with the mass slaughter of other Christian ethnic groups at the hands of the Turks and other Muslim ethnic groups.

Jimmy Carter (president of America from 1977-1981) said, “It is generally not known in the world that, in the years preceding 1916, there was a concerted effort made to eliminate all the Armenian people, probably one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell any group. And there weren’t any Nuremberg trials.”

Baroness Caroline Cox, the House of Lords (United Kingdom), said, “If nations are allowed to commit genocide with impunity, to hide their guilt in a camouflage of lies and denials, there is a real danger that other brutal regimes will be encouraged to attempt genocides. Unless we speak today of the Armenian genocide and unless the Government recognizes this historical fact, we shall leave this century of unprecedented genocides with this blot on our consciences.”

Fast forward to 2022, and the Armenian Christians of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) face the endless threat of pogroms and ethnic cleansing. At the same time, the destruction of ancient Armenian Christian churches, graveyards, and Armenian architecture under areas of Azerbaijan control – since the disaster of the conflict of 2020 – is all too familiar given recent history.

Armenia also faces the threat of further incursions by the armed of Azerbaijan. The energy resources of Azerbaijan entail the ongoing modernization of the armed forces of this nation – especially concerning sophisticated weapons from Israel and Turkey related to drone warfare and other important areas.

Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh reside in fear because Azerbaijan is supported by NATO Turkey -while the European Union (EU) is over-focused on the energy angle of Azerbaijan. Hence, despite Armenians dominating the Artsakh region concerning demographics – along with ancient Armenian Christian churches and architecture highlighting the indigenous reality of this part of the Caucasus region – Azerbaijan is intent on erasing Armenian culture just like the Turks of 1915.

During the conflict in 2020, President Emmanuel Macron of France lambasted NATO Turkey for sending Islamists from Syria to kill Christian Armenians. Macron uttered, “We now have information which indicates that Syrian fighters from jihadist groups have (transited) through Gaziantep (southeastern Turkey) to reach the Nagorno-Karabakh theatre of operations.”

Recent brutality by the armed forces of Azerbaijan includes the following: the mutilation of the body of a female Armenian soldier – and another video shows captured Armenian soldiers being killed in Ishkhanasar. In the massacre in Ishkhanasar, video footage shows a hail of bullets killing Armenian soldiers after the armed forces of Azerbaijan illegally entered Armenia. 

Unless Armenia capitulates to Azerbaijan and NATO Turkey, more military aggression is likely. The leader of Azerbaijan is emboldened by the indifference of the EU, strong ties with NATO Turkey, and increasing ties with Israel in the area of military arms and geopolitics.

The Russian Federation once played an important role in the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis. However, Azerbaijan and Turkey note the preoccupation of the Russian Federation concerning Ukraine. Therefore, the energy weakness of the EU and the preoccupation of the Russian Federation bodes ill for Artsakh and the territorial integrity of Armenia.

The Foreign Ministry of Armenia recently said, “Numerous videos regularly publicized by Azerbaijani users on social media demonstrate the war crimes against and the extrajudicial killings of Armenian prisoners of war, torture of Armenian servicemen, including women, and desecration of corpses committed by the Azerbaijani armed forces.” 

The Guardian reports, “During the six-week 2020 war, Azerbaijan reclaimed broad swaths of Nagorno-Karabakh. The autumn conflict killed more than 6,600 people and ended with a Russia-brokered peace deal.”

Military weapons to Azerbaijan from Israel and Turkey have altered the military dynamics in Nagorno-Karabakh – to the detriment of Armenians. The leader of Turkey equally knows that the Russian Federation is preoccupied with Ukraine – while despite America’s call to solve the crisis, the Biden administration waived restrictions put on American assistance to Azerbaijan. Therefore, Armenia faces a dire situation unless nations including France up their support to the embattled Armenians.

Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is worried about the approach of the Biden administration toward Azerbaijan. He said, “Under no circumstances should the United States be providing military support to such a regime – it not only runs counter to our nation’s core democratic values – but could empower the Aliyev regime to continue or escalate its provocative actions against Armenians. President Biden should not have waived Section 907.”

Cornell Chronicle (Cornell University) reports on the findings of the Caucasus Heritage Watch (CHW). It says, “According to CHW’s report on Nakhchivan, of the 110 medieval and early modern Armenian monasteries, churches and cemeteries that CHW identified from archival sources, 108 were destroyed between 1997 and 2011 in what the authors describe as “a systematic, state-sponsored program of cultural erasure.”

Cornell Chronicle continues, “…that the same policy of cultural erasure now threatens Armenian monuments in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. CHW has recently discovered the destruction of an historic church in Karabakh, one of hundreds of Armenian monuments in territories ceded to Azerbaijan under the terms of a 2020 ceasefire to a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.”

The fate of Armenian Christians was devastating between the late stages of the nineteenth century and when the genocide began in 1915. Over one hundred years later and the embattled Armenian Christians face the same forces of evil that seek to erase the Armenians from their ancient lands.


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