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Opinion | Are Armenians Being Ethnically Cleansed — Once more?

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With its Russian torture chambers and slaughter of civilians, the struggle in Ukraine is horrifying sufficient. However what if one other nation is making the most of the distraction to commit its personal crimes in opposition to humanity?

Meet Azerbaijan.

You in all probability haven’t heard of Azerbaijan’s brutality towards an ethnic Armenian enclave known as Nagorno-Karabakh, however it deserves scrutiny. The previous chief prosecutor of the Worldwide Felony Courtroom, Luis Moreno Ocampo, whom I received to know years in the past when he sought accountability for the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur area, now describes what is going on in Nagorno-Karabakh in a similar way.

“There may be an ongoing genocide in opposition to 120,000 Armenians residing in Nagorno-Karabakh,” he wrote in a current report.

We have a tendency to think about genocide because the slaughter of an ethnic group. However the authorized definition within the 1948 Genocide Conference is broader and doesn’t require mass killing, as long as there are specific “acts dedicated with intent to destroy” a specific ethnic, racial or non secular group.

That’s what Azerbaijan is doing, Moreno Ocampo argued, by blockading Nagorno-Karabakh so that folks die or flee, thus destroying an historic neighborhood.

“Hunger is the invisible genocide weapon,” he wrote. “With out instant dramatic change, this group of Armenians shall be destroyed in a number of weeks.”

“It’s critically necessary to label this as genocide,” Moreno Ocampo instructed me, and likewise essential that america and different world powers — together with Britain, which has been too quiet — step up stress on Azerbaijan.

The idea of genocide was developed partly as a response to the Ottoman Empire’s mass killing of Armenians in 1915 and 1916, so Azerbaijan’s hunger of Armenians in the present day means that historical past dangers coming full circle. The group Genocide Watch has declared a “genocide emergency,” the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention not too long ago issued an “lively genocide alert,” and the Worldwide Affiliation of Genocide Students warned of “the danger of genocide” and known as for Azerbaijan to be held accountable for crimes in opposition to humanity.

The present disaster started late final 12 months, when Azerbaijanis started blockading the one street into Nagorno-Karabakh, the Lachin hall to Armenia, on which the territory relies upon for meals and drugs.

“Individuals are fainting within the bread queues,” the BBC quoted a neighborhood journalist as saying from Nagorno-Karabakh. The report added that the Halo Belief, a nonprofit that works to clear minefields, has needed to droop operations “as a result of its workers are too exhausted to work after queuing for bread all evening and returning dwelling empty-handed.”

A 3rd of deaths in Nagorno-Karabakh are attributed by the native authorities to malnutrition, the BBC stated. I’ve no manner of verifying these stories, however each indication is that the scenario is dire — and getting worse by the day.

But I worry that the West is fatigued and searching inward, for it has likewise paid little consideration to different international crises apart from Ukraine, from horrendous atrocities in Ethiopia to Sudan’s warlords’ slaughtering of civilians. For dictators, tragically, this isn’t a nasty time to commit struggle crimes.

The backdrop is that authoritarian Azerbaijan has a principally Muslim inhabitants talking a Turkic language, whereas Nagorno-Karabakh has a principally Christian inhabitants that speaks Armenian. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Nagorno-Karabakh sought independence; a struggle ended with a stalemate wherein the enclave operated autonomously however with shut hyperlinks to neighboring Armenia. In 2020, Azerbaijan fought a short struggle wherein it reclaimed a lot of the enclave, and it now needs to get better the remaining — and, I think, to push out a lot of the ethnic Armenian inhabitants.

The world, together with Armenia’s prime minister, acknowledges that sovereignty of Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan feels it has a proper to combine Nagorno-Karabakh politically and economically with the remainder of the nation. Although this isn’t integration however hunger, and the one level even international locations as far aside as america and Russia agree on is that Azerbaijan ought to reopen the Lachin hall and finish the struggling.

One potential compromise to finish the looming disaster is outlined by Benyamin Poghosyan of the Utilized Coverage Analysis Institute of Armenia: Azerbaijan would open the Lachin street and Nagorno-Karabakh would concurrently open a number of roads into Azerbaijan (which Azerbaijan seeks). The U.S. State Division hinted at this method in a assertion denouncing the blockade. As a part of that compromise, Azerbaijan would assure the liberty of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

This is able to be unsatisfying, for it rewards Azerbaijan for ravenous civilians, and nobody may a lot belief guarantees from Azerbaijan. However the unhappy job of diplomats is to plot flawed, much-hated agreements which can be higher than any various consequence, and on this case a faulty deal is preferable to the mass hunger and ethnic cleaning of Armenians, once more.

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