U.S. must be careful in mediating Azerbaijan blockade of Armenian breakaway state – or be accused of complicity in genocide, experts caution
The United States should take extra caution to avoid complicity in what is possibly an ongoing “genocide intent” against 120,000 Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, experts warned the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan congressional human rights group.
Most of the Nagorno-Karabakh area came under the control of the de facto Artsakh Republic, which had economic, political and military support from Armenia but has been internationally recognized as a de jure part of Azerbaijan with a predominantly Christian population. However, the latter’s forces have deprived entry of food and other crucial supplies for months via a blockade.
The commission held a hearing on the ongoing barricade of the mountain road Lachin Corridor. Azerbaijan sealed off the connecting corridor last December after regaining control of territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh after a six-week war with Armenia in 2020. Armenian forces had captured the territory in a conflict that ended in 1994. A Russia-brokered armistice left the region connected to Armenia only by the said road, where Russian peacekeepers were supposed to ensure free movement.
Led by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the commission co-chair, the meeting heard the testimony from Luis Moreno Ocampo, an Argentine lawyer who served as the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court from 2003 to 2012. David Phillips, the director of Columbia University‘s “Artsakh Atrocities Project” and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, was also present to share his statement.
According to Smith, the U.S. Congress must determine if it was really a genocide operation against Armenians as the Brandon government embarks on the negotiations. They would also need to know the government’s duty to prevent it under the international treaty “Genocide Convention.”
The congressman from New Jersey also cited Ocampo’s written testimony, which warned the U.S. on taking on a mediatory role, for accepting the existence of “genocide” as part of a negotiation is “complicity.” He also pointed out that two empty chairs were reserved for the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). However, neither responded to multiple invite requests.
Meanwhile, Ocampo clarified that one misconception people have is that an action must involve many deaths before it’s considered genocide, noting that the Azerbaijani security forces’ blockade stops access to food and other essentials. The longer the blockade is, the hungrier the Armenians get. “There are many different forms of genocide. One form requires zero victims,” he said. “Genocide, under Article 2-C, requires just to create the conditions to destroy the people. The crime is to create the conditions and blocking the Lachin Corridor with the life system for the Nagorno-Karabakh people is exacting the conditions.”
He also highlighted that the physical issue is intentions. “Can we say [Azerbaijan] President Ilham Aliyev or anyone else in the Azerbaijani state has genocidal intentions? My thing was if you follow different quotes, then something very clear, the facts speak for themselves,” the attorney also emphasized.
Aliyev repeatedly confirmed his genocidal intentions, but Blinken and the UN are “soft” on sanctioning him
During the testimony, Ocampo also recalled that in December last year, the blockade was started by people not formally connected to the states. However, in January, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Aliyev to remove it but he didn’t follow the request.
Then in February, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) unanimously informed Aliyev that the blockade was creating risk to Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and ordered the Corridor to be opened but again, he did not comply. “What he did instead was to create a security forces blockade,” Ocampo added. This just confirmed that the president was aware that the blockade puts lives at risk. According to the lawyer, this is a clear sign of Aliyev’s genocidal intentions, as ICJ was clear about the consequences of the blockade and its impact on the Armenians.
In a report last month, he warned that there was a “reasonable basis to believe that a genocide is being committed,” because starvation was being used as an “invisible genocide weapon.” He called for the U.N. Security Council to intervene, which would be necessary because Azerbaijan is not a signatory to the statute that established the International Criminal Court. (Related: GLOBALISTS weaponized the food supply toward starvation because COVID-19 vaccines were not enough to depopulate the world, Mike Adams tells Maria Zeee.)
In his testimony, Phillips mirrored the sentiments, stating that Aliyev has waged campaigns intended to dehumanize Armenian Christians. His security forces have been firing on Armenian farmers and terrorizing them with psychological torture, in addition to shortening their food supply. The academician also recommended enforcing sanctions described in Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which restricts assistance to the government of Azerbaijan to prevent conflict with neighboring Armenia. The Global Magnitsky Act, which consists of targeted sanctions to combat human rights abuses and corruption, was also cited in the hearing.
Meanwhile, a statement from Blinken’s office indicated that he spoke with Aliyev earlier this month. “Blinken reiterated our call to reopen the Lachin Corridor to humanitarian, commercial and passenger traffic while recognizing the importance of additional routes from Azerbaijan,” it read. “The Secretary underscored the need for dialogue and compromise and the importance of building confidence between the parties. He pledged continued U.S. support to the peace process.”
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