World leaders urged to prevent possible extrajudicial execution of Ruben Vardanyan in Azeri custody, demand release

 16:31,

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 28, ARMENPRESS. The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention has warned that Ruben Vardanyan’s detention by Azerbaijani authorities poses a very high risk of torture and extrajudicial execution or a show trial.

The detention, killing, and disappearance of elites is a common act of genocide, the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention said in a statement on X.

It called on Russia, the US and other world leaders to demand Vardanyan’s safe passage out of Azerbaijan.

“The Lemkin Institute is deeply concerned about the breaking news of the arrest and detention of former Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh] State Minister Ruben Vardanyan by Azerbaijan’s State Border Service. Vardanyan, an outspoken advocate for Artsakh’s right to self-determination, is particularly hated by Azerbaijan. His detention poses a very high risk of torture and extrajudicial execution or a show trial. He and other current and former members of the Artsakh government and self-defense army have been branded as “separatists” and “terrorists,” categories that states use to justify illegal detention and murder. Concern for the life and safety of Vardanyan is especially warranted given the treatment that Armenian POWs have received in Azerbaijani captivity since 2020. They have been tortured, humiliated, murdered, disappeared, and subjected to show trials. This is well documented. Russia and the United States as well as all other world leaders must demand Vardanyan’s safe passage out of Azerbaijan and must ensure that other members of the Artsakh government, as well as members of the Artsakh Defense Army, are also allowed to leave. We remind the world that the detention, killing, and disappearance of elites is a common act of genocide,” the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention said in the statement.

ANCA Eastern Region Summer Interns to be Honored at 17th Annual Awards Program

BOSTON, Mass.—The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Eastern Region will recognize the accomplishments of its 2023 ANCA Leo Sarkisian summer interns – Olivia Abajian (NY), Vahagn Boudakian (NY), Tsoline Gevorkian (MA), Emma Lopez (CT), Ruby Topalian (MD) and Nver Saghatelyan (MD) –  at this year’s 17th Annual ANCA Eastern Region Endowment Fund Awards Program, United for Artsakh, at the Royal Sonesta Boston Hotel on Saturday, October 7, 2023. 

Founded in 1986, the ANCA LSI program is named in memory of the late ANCA Eastern Region community leader Leo Sarkisian. LSI provides students from both the eastern and western U.S. and Canada with an opportunity to participate in a six-week intensive program in Washington, D.C., designed to give them the tools to advance issues of concern to the Armenian-American community on the federal, state and local level. Now in its 36th year, the program has hundreds of alumni worldwide.

During their six-week stay in the nation’s capital, interns participated in various activities carefully planned by the ANCA office in Washington, D.C. In fact, in three days, interns visited 535 offices encouraging members to cosign a letter led by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) to cease all military aid to Azerbaijan – their efforts acquired 54 cosponsors for the letter, setting the course for what the rest of their internship would entail. The remaining weeks would encompass multiple lectures by several key members of Washington’s Armenian-American political elite, who offered the interns their experiences in a variety of fields, encompassing state government, journalism, lobbying, consulting and ambassadorship. 

Interns for the LSI program are selected through a competitive application process, with their acceptance being based on several criteria, including academic excellence, demonstrated leadership and community involvement. Interns are provided with room and board in the ANCA Aramian House, donated by generous sister donors Martha and Sue Aramian and Margo Aramian Regan.

The Eastern Region interns from this year’s internship all shared a collective focus on advancing the Armenian Cause in the political, economic and social realms of society as they brought a wealth of experience from their professional and educational backgrounds. The interns shared a range of passion, encompassing the collective fields of government and politics, international relations, psychology, sociology, political science, international studies, economics, and Middle Eastern and European languages and cultures, all of which form a strong foundation for the next generation of activists and the future of the Armenian-American community. 

“The many talents and accomplishments of our youth, as well as their drive and motivation, make me confident in the future of the ANCA and Hai Tahd. I have the pleasure of recognizing the interns at this year’s awards dinner and hope my words will continue to empower them and encourage our youth to join the tireless fight for justice for Artsakh, Armenia and the Armenian nation,” said Steve Mesrobian, ANCA Eastern Region Board member.

The future of the region – this year’s ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship interns – will be honored at the 17th Annual Awards Program, United for Artsakh at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Saturday, October 7.

The 2023 ANCA Leo Sarkisian Eastern Region interns recognized at the Awards Program are Olivia Abajian, Vahagn Boudakian, Tsoline Gevorkian, Emma Lopez, Ruby Topalian and Nver Saghatelyan.

Olivia Abajian is a current freshman at the University of Maryland, majoring in government and politics with a concentration in international relations. Abajian is the editor-in-chief of the Terrapin Yearbook and a member of Phi Sigma Sigma. Bringing her Armenian background onto campus, she is also a member of UMD’s Armenian Students Association and an active member of the AYF-YOARF “Hyortik” Chapter at home.

Vahagn Boudakian, who is pursuing a major in political science with a minor in psychology at Brooklyn College CUNY, actively contributed to refugee relief efforts following the 2020 war and contributed to the war efforts. He is hopeful to employ the new skills acquired from the internship to “further the cause of Armenia’s progress.”

Tsoline Gevorkian, a lifelong member of the AYF, currently serves as the treasurer of the Middlesex County West AYF Chapter. At the University of Vermont, she studies psychology and sociology as a rising junior. Gevorkian credits the internship for allowing her to gain more knowledge about American politics and giving her more confidence toward one day hosting her own AYF educational lecture. It was more important – and a source of pride – that she could spend her summer “fighting for our brothers and sisters in Artsakh and for an Azad Angakh Miatsyal Haiastan.

Emma Lopez, who recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in political science, wore many hats at her local Armenian Students Association, where she served as vice president, secretary and social media manager. At her home parish, St. George Armenian Church, she is an active member of the local ACYOA, where she also regularly volunteers in community events. She looks forward to using her new skills and experiences to enrich her home community. 

Nver Saghatelyan, a student at John Hopkins University, is majoring in international studies and economics. He saw the internship as an opportunity to familiarize himself with the dynamics of American politics and to bring his new lessons back home to Armenia and Artsakh, where he hopes to use these experiences to “challenge the status quo and contribute to peaceful resolutions in contrast to the ongoing tensions and violence.”
Lastly, Ruby Topalian, a rising sophomore at Trinity College Dublin, is pursuing a dual bachelor’s program through Columbia University. At Trinity College Dublin, she studies Middle Eastern and European languages and cultures, especially focusing on Arabic and Italian. At Columbia, she studies political science. According to her, the internship reconnected her to her Armenian heritage, and as an editor on multiple campus publications, she looks forward to leveraging her position to encourage her peers to become educated about Armenian-American issues, hoping that her efforts will create more activists for the Armenian Cause.

Hosted by the ANC of Eastern Massachusetts, the evening will feature a cocktail reception and silent auction beginning at 6 p.m. and a seated dinner and an awards program at 7 p.m. During the dinner presentation, the region will present deserving honorees with awards, including the inaugural ANCA Eastern Region Excellence in Education Award to Houry Boyamian; the inaugural ANCA Eastern Region Advocacy Award to Dr. Michael Rubin; the ANCA Eastern Region Vahan Cardashian Award to lifelong activists Joseph Dagdigian of the ANC of Merrimack Valley and Barkev Kaligian of the ANC of Eastern Massachusetts; and the ANCA Eastern Region Freedom Award, which will be presented to Congresswoman Katherine Clark. 

“While the evening will be appropriately somber given the current situation in Artsakh, we are depending on our community to fully support the ANCA Eastern Region’s fundraiser, which will be dedicated to the people of Artsakh and the work we must do together for the continued existence of Artsakh and Armenia,” said Ara Nazarian, ANCA Eastern Region Endowment Fund Awards Program committee chair. 

For more information about this year’s Awards Program and to purchase tickets, please visit https://givergy.us/ancaer or email [email protected].

The Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region is part of the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots organization, the ANCA. Working in coordination with the ANCA in Washington, DC, and a network of chapters and supporters throughout the Eastern United States, the ANCA-ER actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.


Ethnic Cleansing in Artsakh is Baku’s Way to Engage Armenia in Military Conflict, Warns Yerevan

Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan addresses the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23


Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on Saturday said at the United Nations General Assembly that Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Artsakh is part of larger plan by Baku to engage Armenia in military conflict.

“The ethnic cleansing policy against Nagorno-Karabakh is just a part of a bigger picture. In this regard we clearly see an intention to involve the Republic of Armenia in military actions thus widening the geography of hostilities into our sovereign territories,” Mirzoyan told the UN General Assembly.

He also blasted Azerbaijan for undermining every effort to achieve peace in the region through provocations and military aggression.

“We [Armenia] do not have a partner for peace but a country that openly declares that “Might has Right” and constantly uses force to disrupt the peace process,” Mirzoyan said, adding that Azerbaijan’s attack on Artsakh this was deliberately timed to coincide with the UN General Assembly, accusing Baku of scoffing at the international community.

He said the attack on Artsakh happened this week “and the timing was not accidental. It shows open disregard and defiance of Azerbaijan against the international community who gathered here in New York.”

Mirzoyan said that Baku’s message is clear: “you can talk about peace and we can go to war and you will not be able to change anything.”

Armenia’s Foreign Minister also chided the UN for continuously announcing that it cannot verify reports from the region, because its teams are not on the ground, a claim made twice in one month by UN representatives addressing Security Council sessions discussing the Artsakh crisis.

“The claims that the United Nations is not present on the ground, so has no capacity to verify the situation cannot be an excuse for inaction. The United Nations is a universal body, which should stand with the victims of mass atrocity crimes all over the world regardless of the status of territory instead of delivering dismissive statements,” said Mirzoyan.

Below is the complete text of Mirzoyan’s address to the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

[SEE VIDEO]

Honorable Mr. President, 
Excellences,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, let me congratulate Mr. Dennis Francis on assuming the Presidency of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

I will not be the first and definitely not the last speaker in this august body who will identify global threats for democracies, challenges for security, violations of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, including non-use of force and peaceful resolution of conflicts, as a main source of instability and tension in the world.

The devastating developments of the past years, which disrupted the security architecture in the world and especially in Europe, have significantly damaged multilateralism. If a couple of years ago we were contemplating the decline of multilateralism, today we see erosion of that very tenet and its foundation such as international law, human rights and cooperative security.

This is not just a theoretical inference but a reality with which the Armenian people in the South Caucasus are coping for the last three years. The repetitive aggression of Azerbaijan against the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia and military attacks against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh significantly disrupts peace and stability in our region, massively violates human rights and humanitarian law representing existential threat for Armenians.

My government, having a sincere belief and aspiration to establish peace and stability in our region, has made significant and duly recorded efforts to this end. Alas, we do not have a partner for peace but a country that openly declares that “Might has Right” and constantly uses force to disrupt the peace process. Literally a year ago, from this very stage the Prime Minister of Armenia presented the fact of aggression and occupation of the Republic of Armenia’s sovereign territories by neighboring Azerbaijan. Since then, the situation has deteriorated even more and today I have to present yet another very recent act of large-scale offensive, this time against the indigenous people of Nagorno-Karabakh, in blatant violation of the international law and Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020. 

It happened this week and the timing was not accidental. It shows open disregard and defiance of Azerbaijan against the international community who gathered here in New York. The message is clear: “you can talk about peace and we can go to war and you will not be able to change anything.” The 120,000 people, whose sole aspiration is to live and create in peace and dignity in their ancestral homeland and who have already been suffering under the more than 9-month blockade and siege by Azerbaijan, were subjected to military attack by tens of thousands of troops. In the course of this inhumane attack, the whole territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert and other towns and settlements came under intense and indiscriminate shelling with heavy weaponry such as rockets, artillery, combat UAVs, aviation, including prohibited cluster munition. 

This atrocious large-scale offensive which claimed hundreds of lives, including of women and children, was cynically defined as a local counter terrorist operation. According to the recent information there are confirmed cases of more than 200 killed and 400 wounded, including among civilian population, women and children, also accepted by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The fate of hundreds of people is uncertain.

As I speak today, 30 percent of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh is displaced. The entire population of Nagorno-Karabakh remains without any means of subsistence, as just limited humanitarian assistance has been able to enter into Nagorno-Karabakh. There is no food, no medicine, no shelter, no place to go, separated from their families, terrorized and scared for their lives.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The policy and actions of Azerbaijan for the last 10 months, evidently demonstrate the pre-planned and well-orchestrated nature of this mass atrocity. On December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan blockaded the Lachin corridor – the only road, the lifeline connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia and the outer world, in blatant violation of its obligations under the international humanitarian law and the Trilateral Statement of 9 November 2020. The blockade was further consolidated by the installation of illegal check-point since April 23, as well as with the complete cessation of any movement, even for humanitarian aid through the Corridor since June 15.

More than nine months-long blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh caused a severe shortage of food, medical supplies, fuel and other essential goods, almost depleting the resources necessary for the survival of the population. The blockade was accompanied by deliberate disruption of electricity and natural gas supplies, further exacerbating the situation into a full-fledged humanitarian crisis.
I would like to emphasize that on 22 February, 2023 the International Court of Justice indicated a provisional measure, according to which “Azerbaijan shall take all measures to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin corridor in both directions.” This order was later reconfirmed by the Court’s order of 6 July. 

A number of partner states, international organizations, including UN Special Rapporteurs, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Amnesty International, Transparency International had been continuously sounding an alarm about the deteriorating situation on the ground. Moreover, on August 16, during the emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council conveyed by the request of Armenia, the majority of UNSC member states expressed clear position regarding the need to unblock the Lachin corridor and halt the suffering of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and ensure their fundamental human rights. Whereas, in response to these clear-cut calls, Azerbaijan has worsened its inhumane actions by launching this military attack against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

On September 21, 2023, the United Nations Security Council gathered once again to discuss the devastating situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. The majority of the UNSC members expressed their position regarding the imperative of cessation of hostilities by Azerbaijan, opening of the Lachin corridor, ensuring international humanitarian access and addressing the rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 
The chronology of truly devastating developments in our region come to prove that the issues cannot be addressed merely with statements and generic calls. Armenia has repeatedly warned the international community about the need for concrete and practical action, including the dispatching of a UN inter-agency needs assessment and fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh. But the international community, the United Nations failed to come to the rescue of people for the last 9 months, 285 days.

The use of starvation as a method of warfare, depriving people of their means of subsistence, obstruction and denial of humanitarian access of UN agencies, hindering the ICRC humanitarian activities, constitute early warning signs of an atrocity crime. A number of international human rights organizations, lawyers, genocide scholars, reputable independent experts, including the former ICC Prosecutor and the former Special Advisor of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide have already characterized the situation on the ground in Nagorno-Karabakh as a risk of genocide. Just yesterday, the Special Advisor of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide Alice Wairimu Nderitu stressed and I quote: “Military action can only contribute to escalate what is already a tense situation and to put the civilian population in the area at risk of violence, including risk of genocide and related atrocity crimes. All efforts need to be made to prevent violence and sustain peace,” end of quote. Let me draw your attention to the fact that after failure of preventing Genocide in Rwanda, the United Nations managed to create mechanisms for prevention, thus making the “never again” a meaningful pledge. But today we are at the brink of another failure.

The people of Nagorno-Karabakh, trapped in this inhumane blockade and hostilities inflicted by Azerbaijan and under the threat of their very existence, still hope that prevention will not remain a feature of language, but will become a line of actions.

The claims that the United Nations is not present on the ground, so has no capacity to verify the situation cannot be an excuse for inaction. The United Nations is a universal body, which should stand with the victims of mass atrocity crimes all over the world regardless of the status of territory instead of delivering dismissive statements.

We are hopeful that the international community, namely the UN will demonstrate a strong political will to condemn the resumption of hostilities and targeting of civilian settlements and infrastructure and demand full compliance with obligations under the international humanitarian law, including those related to the protection of civilians, in particular women and children, and critical civilian infrastructure․

The international community should undertake all the efforts for an immediate deployment of an interagency mission by the UN to Nagorno-Karabakh with the aim to monitor and assess the human rights, humanitarian and security situation on the ground. The unimpeded access of the UN agencies and other international organizations to Nagorno-Karabakh in line with the humanitarian principles is an imperative. In this regard we also stress the need to ensure full cooperation of the parties in good faith with the International Committee of the Red Cross to address the consequences of the military attack, including the removal and identification of the bodies, search and rescue of missing personnel and civilians, release of POWs, safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance, in strict compliance with the international humanitarian law.

Azerbaijan must finally adhere to its legally binding obligations and ensure freedom of movement of persons, vehicles and cargo, along the Lachin corridor, in line with the ICJ orders. 
We firmly believe that relevant mechanisms must be introduced to ensure the return of persons displaced in the course of the recent military attack, as well as persons and refugees displaced as a result of 2020 war, to their homes in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent regions under the monitoring and control of the UN relevant agencies, as it was foreseen in the Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020.

A sustainable and viable international mechanism for preventing the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population of Nagorno-Karabakh and for ensuring dialogue between representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh and official Baku to address the issues related to rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh is an imperative. Furthermore, excluding punitive actions against Nagorno-Karabakh’s political and military representatives and personnel should be guaranteed. 

We also believe that the international community must demand the exit of any Azerbaijani military and law-enforcement bodies from all civilian settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh to exclude panic, provocations and escalation, endangering civilian population and create a possibility for a United Nations-mandated Peacekeeping Force to keep stability and security in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The ethnic cleansing policy against Nagorno-Karabakh is just a part of a bigger picture. In this regard we clearly see an intention to involve the Republic of Armenia in military actions thus widening the geography of hostilities into our sovereign territories. 

The unwillingness of Azerbaijan to genuinely and constructively engage in the peace process with Armenia, including to recognize the territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia, withdraw its Armed forces from the occupied territories of Armenia, delimitate the Armenian-Azerbaijani interstate borders based on the latest available maps from 1975 corresponding with Almaty 1991 declaration, create a demilitarized zone along the interstate border, clearly illustrates the mentioned intentions.

Likewise, Azerbaijan has a hidden agenda when it comes to unblocking regional transport and economic communications. As a landlocked country, Armenia is vitally interested in implementation of the agreement on the unblocking of all the regional communications on the basis of sovereignty, national jurisdiction, equality and reciprocity. Armenia is a long-standing advocate of the inclusive and equitable transport connectivity with the view to promote trade, cooperation and people-to-people contacts, whereas our neighbors continue to impose the three decades-long blockade of Armenia, as part of its well-established policy of economic coercion of my country. The so-called “corridor” logic promoted by Baku and their hidden and open sponsors is aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Armenia and justifying its territorial claims. The narrative generated by them along with the use of force by Azerbaijan both against the Republic of Armenia and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh shows that forcefully imposing on Armenia an extraterritorial corridor, a corridor that will pass through the territory of Armenia but will be out of our control can be the next target. This is unacceptable for us and should be unacceptable for the international community. 

Mr. President,
Despite all the challenges Armenia continues to engage in the negotiations to achieve normalization of relations and establishment of lasting peace in the region and supports the efforts of the international partners to this end. Respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty within the internationally recognized borders, addressing the underlying causes of the conflict, namely the rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh are the foundation of a lasting peace. 

In the end, let me state that the people of Armenia will firmly stand for our sovereignty, independence and democracy and will overcome the hybrid-war unleashed against us.

I thank you.

US "Deeply Concerned" For Ethnic Armenian Population In Nagorno-Karabakh

NDTV, India
Sept 24 2023

AFP - Washington: 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Armenia on Saturday that the United States had "deep concern" and sought protection for ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijan solidified control of the territory.

In a telephone call with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Mr Blinken "expressed the United States' deep concern for the ethnic Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

"He underscored the United States is calling on Azerbaijan to protect civilians and uphold its obligations to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh and to ensure its forces comply with international humanitarian law," Mr Miller said.

Mr Blinken held three rounds of peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan to reduce tensions on Nagorno-Karabakh, which is dominated by ethnic Armenians who formed a breakaway self-styled state in the 1990s.

Azerbaijan on Tuesday sent in troops and swiftly reconquered the mountainous territory. Christian Armenia has accused mostly Muslim Azerbaijan of planning ethnic cleansing, but Azerbaijan assured the United Nations on Saturday that it would protect ethnic Armenians.

Post a comment(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



HRW: Azerbaijan: Ensure Civilians’ Rights in Nagorno Karabakh

Sept 23 2023

Humanitarian Crisis Needs Urgent Response

(Berlin, ) – Thousands of civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh have dire humanitarian needs following Azerbaijan’s military operation to regain control over the region, Human Rights Watch said today. The military intervention followed months of acute shortages of food, medications, hygiene products, and other essential supplies to the region, as Azerbaijan had disrupted vehicular and pedestrian traffic to the region for over 9 months.

Azerbaijani authorities should take immediate steps to ensure the safety and humanitarian needs of Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population, allowing humanitarian access without delay. Azerbaijan should allow civilians who wish to evacuate temporarily to Armenia, as well as people in urgent need of medical care who wish to leave, while respecting their right to return. Transportation of food, medicines, and other humanitarian necessities into Nagorno-Karabakh should be permitted from multiple directions, including through Armenia. International monitoring is needed to ensure that Azerbaijan meets its human rights obligations, in particular, toward Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population.

“Civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh are facing a dire humanitarian crisis and grave uncertainty about their future,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Azerbaijani authorities have said that everyone’s rights will be protected, but that is hard to take at face value after the months of severe hardships and decades of conflict.”

Unless Azerbaijani authorities take immediate steps to address humanitarian needs, including goods and services essential to people's economic and social rights, it would be credible to conclude that it is deliberately trying to make ethnic Armenians’ lives so miserable they will have no choice but to leave, Human Rights Watch said.

Since September 19, 2023, when Azerbaijan started military attacks to regain full control over Nagorno-Karabakh, thousands of civilians have fled their homes. Many fled to Stepanakert/Khankendi. Ethnic Armenian civilians cannot evacuate the region because Azerbaijan has not opened the border, which runs through the Lachin Corridor, the sole road connecting the region to Armenia.

On September 22, Russia’s Defense Ministry said that Russian peacekeeping force bases in Nagorno-Karabakh were "hosting 826 civilians,” and that “their accommodation, food supply, and medical care are provided.” Russian peacekeeping forces should ensure the humanitarian needs and protection of civilians who sought refuge on Russian military bases, Human Rights Watch said. On September 22, the Azerbaijani emergencies ministry announced that it had sent 40 tons of humanitarian assistance, including food and hygiene products, to Khankendi/Stepanakert for distribution to civilians.

For civilians who choose to evacuate, Azerbaijan is obligated to allow them to return to their homes under a fundamental precept of international human rights law, Human Rights Watch said.

On September 22, the European Court of Human Rights issued interim measures obligating Azerbaijan to “refrain from taking any measures which might entail breaches of their obligations under the [European Convention on Human Rights], notably regarding the right to life and the prohibition of torture and other degrading treatment or punishment.”

Nagorno-Karabakh is a region of Azerbaijan populated by ethnic Armenians who, together with Republic of Armenia forces, fought a war for independence in the early 1990s and remained defacto separate from Azerbaijan until 2020. Azerbaijan initiated hostilities in September 2020 to retake the area. A truce statement ending the 44-day war provided for Russian peacekeeping troops to have a presence in Nagorno-Karabakh and to control the Lachin Corridor until 2025.  

Azerbaijan began blocking the Lachin Corridor on December 12, 2022, and in April established a checkpoint. Starting in mid-June, Azerbaijan blocked all humanitarian goods, which Russian peacekeepers and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) had been delivering,  claiming unauthorized goods had been smuggled into Nagorno-Karabakh. It also periodically prevented the ICRC from transporting patients out of the enclave, Nagorno-Karabakh representatives told Human Rights Watch in August.

On September 19, Azerbaijani forces carried out military attacks aimed at re-establishing control over areas of Nagorno-Karabakh, which had remained under the control of the de facto local authorities after the 2020 truce. On September 20, a ceasefire was announced, followed the next day by initial talks between Azerbaijani authorities and representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian community.

In August, Human Rights Watch spoke remotely with 16 people who described the nearly complete disruption of movement of people, goods, and services including electricity, gas, and petrol. This disruption resulted in acute shortages of food, medications, hygiene products, and other supplies essential to people’s economic and social rights. People described facing shortages of these essential items with almost no access to dairy products, eggs, or meat, and intermittently bread.

Civilians now face even greater shortages. Under added widespread power cuts, they are desperately trying to locate their loved ones.

Hikmet Hajiyev, an adviser to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, posted on X, formerly Twitter, that Azerbaijani officials had told the ICRC, “all necessary conditions are provided and will be provided for the delivery of medicine, food and other goods by ICRC” via Lachin and another road.

By establishing a border checkpoint at the Lachin road and forcing it closed for months when no other arrangements were in place to ensure residents’ rights to food and health, Azerbaijan effectively has been denying these rights, Human Rights Watch said.

For seven months, Azerbaijan has refused to carry out a binding order by the International Court of Justice to “take all measures […] to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles, and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.” In December, the European Court of Human Rights issued an earlier set of interim measures, saying Azerbaijan should “take all measures that are within their jurisdiction to ensure safe passage through the ‘Lachin Corridor’ of seriously ill persons in need of medical treatment in Armenia and others who were stranded on the road without shelter or means of subsistence.”

Hajiyev’s post also stated that Nagorno-Karabakh military personnel who voluntarily lay down their weapons are “free,” though there are serious grounds to fear that Azerbaijani authorities may treat all adult males without disabilities as presumptive combatants. On September 19, when hostilities started, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry messaged Nagorno-Karabakh civilians saying that shelter, food and water would be made available to women, children, older people, people with disabilities, and sick people. The statement implied that most adult males would not be treated as civilians, Human Rights Watch said.

“Thousands of ethnic Armenian people are displaced, and many separated from their families, fearing uncertainty and a bleak future,” Williamson said. “Urgent humanitarian access and monitoring are needed to ensure safety for Nagorno-Karabakh’s civilians.”

RFE/RL Armenian Service – 09/13/2023

                                        Wednesday, 


Armenia To Ratify International Court Treaty Amid Tensions With Russia


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian attends his government's 
question-and-answer session in parliament, Yerevan, .


Despite stern warnings from Russia, Armenia will unconditionally accept 
jurisdiction of an international court that issued an arrest warrant for Russian 
President Vladimir Putin early this year, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on 
Wednesday.

Pashinian made this clear amid unprecedented tensions between Moscow and 
Yerevan. They rose further after he declared early this month that Armenia’s 
reliance on Russia for defense and security has proved a “strategic mistake.” 
Russian officials condemned Pashinian’s remarks.

The Russian Foreign Ministry listed them among “a series of unfriendly steps” 
taken by Yerevan, in a note of protest handed to the Armenian ambassador on 
September 8. Those steps also include the Armenian parliament’s plans to ratify 
the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Moscow demanded last week “clarifications” over the Pashinian government’s 
decision to send the treaty, known as the Rome Statute, to the parliament for 
ratification. The decision was announced on September 1.

“The Rome Statute will be fully ratified in accordance with my position and with 
the backing of our parliamentary allies,” Pashinian told the National Assembly 
controlled by his Civil Contract party. “It has nothing to do with 
Russian-Armenian relations. It has to do with Armenia’s security issues.”

Pashinian’s political allies said earlier that Yerevan wants to submit to the 
ICC’s jurisdiction in order to bring Azerbaijan to justice for its “war crimes” 
and to prevent more Azerbaijani attacks on Armenia. Russian officials were 
unconvinced by these assurances, warning of serious damage to bilateral ties.

Independent legal experts believe that the ratification of the Rome Statute 
would commit the Armenian authorities to arrest Putin and extradite him to The 
Hague tribunal if he visits the South Caucasus country. Pashinian did not 
comment on such a possibility on Wednesday.




Lachin Road Still Closed Despite Reported Deal On Aid Supplies

        • Artak Khulian

ARMENIA - Armenian lorries carriyng humanitarian aid for Nagorno-Karabakh are 
seen stranded near an Azerbaijani checkpoint set up at the entry of the Lachin 
corridor, July 30, 2023.


Humanitarian traffic through the Lachin corridor was not restored on Wednesday, 
with Azerbaijan accusing Nagorno-Karabakh’s leadership of continuing to oppose 
an alternative Azerbaijani-controlled supply route.

The authorities in Stepanakert indicated at the weekend that they agreed to let 
a Russian Red Cross truck enter Karabakh from the Azerbaijani town of Aghdam in 
return for Baku’s pledge to unblock the corridor.

The truck delivered 15 tons of food and other humanitarian aid on Tuesday. The 
Russian Foreign Ministry reported later in the day an agreement on the “parallel 
unblocking of the Lachin and Aghdam routes.” The Azerbaijani side confirmed its 
readiness for such an arrangement, which is also favored by the United States 
and the European Union.

Hikmet Hajiyev, a senior aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, accused 
Karabakh’s “illegal regime” of obstructing the “simultaneous opening” of the two 
roads which he said was first agreed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken 
and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov in a September 1 phone call.

A Karabakh official, Davit Babayan, denied Hajiyev’s claims and said Baku itself 
is violating an agreement to reopen the Lachin road after the delivery of the 
Russian aid through Aghdam.

“Our people are in a situation where no issue can be politicized,” Babayan told 
RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “We have never breached or distorted any agreements.”

Sources said that the conflicting sides as well as Russia and other 
international actors are continuing negotiations on the issue. Babayan confirmed 
the information but did not give any details.

The European Union effectively welcomed the shipment of the Russian aid to 
Karabakh. A spokeswoman for European Council President Charles Michel called it 
“an important step that should facilitate the reopening also of the Lachin 
corridor.”

“We call on all stakeholders to show responsibility and flexibility in ensuring 
that both the Lachin and the Aghdam-Askeran route will be used,” she added in a 
statement.




Snoop Dogg Concert In Armenia Raises Corruption Concerns

        • Nane Sahakian

U.S. -- US singer Snoop Dogg arrives on the red carpet for the 31st MTV Video 
Music Awards at The Forum in Inglewood, California, August 24, 2014


Armenia’s leading anti-corruption watchdog on Wednesday expressed concern over 
the choice of a company that will spend about $6 million allocated by the 
Armenian government for American rapper Snoop Dogg’s upcoming concert in Yerevan.

The government sparked controversy when it approved the funding, which covers 
the singer’s performance fee and logistics expenses, in early August 11. 
Government officials said the money is worth it because the concert slated for 
September 23 will raise Armenia’s international profile and attract thousands of 
foreign tourists.

Critics shrugged off the explanation, condemning the government decision as 
reckless extravagance aimed at distracting Armenians from grave national 
security problems facing their country. Some of them also pointed to drug 
references in Snoop Dogg’s songs. The rap star has had a history of using drugs.

The entire sum exceeding the annual budgets of most rural communities of Armenia 
will be handled by a little-known private company. Prime Minister Nikol 
Pashinian’s government chose the company called Doping Space and signed a 
contract with it on August 18 without a tender. The government did not explain 
why it avoided competitive bidding.

It emerged afterwards that the allocation took the form of a government grant, a 
highly unusual arrangement that prompted serious concern from the 
Anti-Corruption Center (ACC), the Armenian affiliated of Transparency 
International.

“We need to understand why they gave the grant to that company without a 
tender,” Varuzhan Hoktanian, the ACC’s programs director, told RFE/RL’s Armenian 
Service on Wednesday.

“I suppose that just like in the case of procurements there should have been a 
tender here,” said Hoktanian. “Especially in the case of such a large sum, a 
tender must be obligatory. We would consider it non-obligatory only if no other 
company had the capacity to organize such an event.”

Doping Space was set up as recently as in July this year and is not known to 
have organized any major entertainment events. One of its two-founders, Makar 
Petrosian, is a son of a wealthy businessman who used to have close ties to 
Armenia’s former governments. Incidentally, prosecutors accused Petrosian, his 
father Alik and other family members of illicit enrichment and moved to 
confiscate some of their assets late last month.

In addition to its share of the government funding, the Snoop Dogg concert 
organizer hopes to raise an equivalent of $1.5 million from ticket sales. The 
contract requires it to pay only $63,000 of the ticket revenue to the government.

Doping Space’s 7-page cost breakdown publicized by the government indicates that 
about $3 million will be paid to Snoop Dogg and his production team.

The other half of the government money is to be spent on promotional, logistical 
and other services to be provided by the company. Speaking on the condition of 
anonymity, some Armenian entertainment industry executives suggested that their 
costs are inflated.

“Most, if not all, of those services could have been provided at more affordable 
prices,” one of them told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.




Iran Sees No War Between Armenia, Azerbaijan


Iran -- Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani.


Iran’s defense minister ruled out a new war between Armenia and Azerbaijan on 
Wednesday while reaffirming his country’s strong opposition to any change in 
regional countries’ borders.

“We believe that no war will break out in the region,” Brigadier General 
Mohammad Reza Ashtiani was quoted by Iranian news agencies as saying after a 
cabinet meeting in Tehran.

“We do not accept any change in the borders,” Ashtiani said, adding that the 
Iranian army’s General Staff also made this clear when it discussed increased 
tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone during a recent meeting.

The Armenian government said last week that Azerbaijan has been massing troops 
along the Karabakh “line of contact” and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in 
possible preparation for another large-scale military assault. Baku denied any 
military buildup there, saying that its troops are simply engaging in routine 
training.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian raised his concerns about the alleged buildup 
with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other foreign leaders in a series of 
phone calls made over the weekend. Raisi was reported to reiterate that the 
Islamic Republic continues to support the territorial integrity of Armenia.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, said on Monday that Baku 
has assured Tehran that it has no plans to attack Armenia. Azerbaijani officials 
have alleged this month growing Armenian “military provocations” in the conflict 
zone.

IRAN - The Iranian army holds a military exercise in the northwest of Iran, 
close to the border with Azerbaijan, October 1, 2021.

Armenian officials and pundits believe that a key goal of an Azerbaijan attack 
would be to open an exterritorial land corridor connecting Azerbaijan to its 
Nakhichevan exclave through Syunik, the sole Armenian province bordering Iran. 
President Ilham Aliyev and other Azerbaijani leaders regularly demand such a 
corridor, citing the terms of a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the 2020 
war in Karabakh. Yerevan counters that the agreement calls for only conventional 
transport links for Nakhichevan.

Iran has repeatedly warned against attempts to strip it of the common border and 
transport links with Armenia. The Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah 
Ali Khamenei repeated these warnings when he met with Turkish President Recep 
Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran last year.

Erdogan complained about Iran’s stance on the issue after visiting Baku in June. 
He claimed that unlike Tehran, Yerevan does not object to the idea of the 
“Zangezur corridor.”

Turkey’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister Abdulkadir Uraloglu reportedly 
said on Wednesday that “in the coming months” Ankara will join in efforts to 
open the corridor. He did not elaborate.

“I believe that Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia will implement this project in a 
short period of time,” Uraloglu said, according to the Azerbaijani APA news 
agency.



Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2023 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

 

U.S. repeats call for immediate and simultaneous opening of Lachin and Aghdam routes

 10:59,

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 12, ARMENPRESS. The U.S. is deeply concerned about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said at the September 11 press briefing.

“We are deeply concerned about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.  We repeat our call, as the Secretary did in a statement over the weekend, for the immediate and simultaneous opening of the Lachin and Aghdam routes to allow passage of desperately needed humanitarian supplies to the men and women and children in Nagorno-Karabakh.  We urge the leaders, as the Secretary did in his calls, against taking any actions that raise tensions or distract from this goal. And I will say, in addition, we have consistently stressed this need for open – to open routes in Nagorno-Karabakh and for a dialogue between the parties.  While it is important that Nagorno-Karabakh have credible representatives for this process, as we have said in the past, we do not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent and sovereign state, and therefore we do not recognize the results of those so-called presidential elections that were announced over the last few days. So, I will say that the United States will continue to strongly support efforts by Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve outstanding issues through direct dialogue, and that’s why Secretary Blinken and Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations Lou Bono have been consistently engaged, and we will stay consistently engaged on this question,” Miller said.

Azerbaijan pledges to reopen Lachin Corridor to Nagorno-Karabakh

POLITICO
Sept 10 2023

Germany calls for opening Lachin Corridor and sending humanitarian aid to Nagorno- Karabakh

 19:16, 9 September 2023

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 9, ARMENPRESS. Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz has called for a swift agreement to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and open the Lachin Corridor, according to the German government’s readout of Scholz’s phone call with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

“Today, Chancellor Scholz spoke by phone with Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan. The tense situation in the border regions between Armenia and Azerbaijan was in the focus. The Federal Chancellor expressed his deep concern over the growing tension of the past weeks, particularly over the movements of military formations. The federal government is strongly urging to refrain from any military escalation. Now it is necessary to swiftly achieve an agreement over providing humanitarian aid to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, including over the opening of Lachin Corridor. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan can only be resolved diplomatically. Now everyone should work constructively in the direction of this goal without delay,” Scholz’s office said in the readout.

In the September 9 phone call, the Armenian Prime Minister’s Office said that he briefed the German Chancellor on the Azeri military buildup and rising tensions.

Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia and the rest of the world, has been blocked by Azerbaijan since late 2022. The Azerbaijani blockade constitutes a gross violation of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement, which established that the 5km-wide Lachin Corridor shall be under the control of Russian peacekeepers. Furthermore, on February 22, 2023 the United Nations’ highest court – the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – ordered Azerbaijan to “take all steps at its disposal” to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.  Azerbaijan has been ignoring the order ever since. The ICJ reaffirmed its order on 6 July 2023.

Azerbaijan then illegally installed a checkpoint on Lachin Corridor. The blockade has led to shortages of essential products such as food and medication. Azerbaijan has also cut off gas and power supply into Nagorno Karabakh, with officials and experts warning that Baku seeks to commit ethnic cleansing and genocide against Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

AW: Artist panel at Armenian Museum to feature Harvard’s Christina Maranci and Hrag Vartanian of Hyperallergic

The Armenian Museum of America is offering a series of events on September 23-24, including a panel discussion on “The Image as Disruption and Identity” with artist Ara Oshagan, curator Ryann Casey, art critic Hrag Vartanian and Prof. Christina Maranci of Harvard University.

WATERTOWN, Mass.—The Armenian Museum of America will host a series of programs the weekend of September 23-24 highlighted by an artist panel discussing Ara Oshagan’s “Disrupted, Borders” exhibition currently showing in the museum’s contemporary galleries. 

The event will bring Oshagan together with curator Ryann Casey, art critic Hrag Vartanian and Professor Christina Maranci, all of whom touch upon contemporary art and politics in their respective work.

The panel, titled “The Image as Disruption and Identity,” is free and open to the public, and will take place in the Adele and Haig Der Manuelian Galleries on Saturday, September 23 at 2 p.m., followed by a light reception. The museum is also offering free admission for all visitors that weekend, along with free guided tours of “Ara Oshagan: Disrupted, Borders” to its members.

“This show connects many of the diasporic and homeland entanglements that have occupied me over the past decade or more, from Los Angeles to Beirut to Artsakh,” states Oshagan. With more than 55 works on display, “Ara Oshagan: Disrupted, Borders” combines photography, collage, installation and film.

“The panel will concentrate on the role that image-making plays in our understanding of diasporic identity, displacement and our collective history,” Oshagan explains. “Of particular interest is the use of historical objects and family archives in the conversation around dislocation, borders and (un)imagined futures.”

About the Panelists

Ara Oshagan is a multi-disciplinary artist, curator and cultural worker whose practice explores collective and personal histories of dispossession, legacies of violence and identity. He works in photography, film, collage, installation and public art. Oshagan is an artist-in-residence at 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica and curator at ReflectSpace Gallery in Glendale.

Ryann Casey curated “Disrupted, Borders” and is a New Jersey based artist and educator. She is an adjunct professor of photography, art history and critical theory at Stockton University, and her current photographic and curatorial projects focus on themes of loss, trauma and memory. Casey has curated a number of exhibitions surrounding Armenian artists and history.

Dr. Christina Maranci is one of the world’s foremost experts on Armenian architecture. The first woman and first person of Armenian descent to serve as Harvard University’s Mashtots Chair of Armenian Studies, Dr. Maranci’s research focuses on at-risk Armenian churches and monasteries. She is also one of the Armenian Museum’s esteemed academic advisors.

An artist, curator and critic, Hrag Vartanian has written widely on Armenian artists and cultural production for over two decades. After co-founding Hyperallergic in 2009, Vartanian has served as the arts magazine’s editor-in-chief ever since. His writings have appeared in the Brooklyn RailHuffington PostAl Jazeera and NPR.

More Weekend Offerings

Museum admission will be free for all visitors on September 23-24, sponsored by the Alan K. and Isabelle DerKazarian Foundation. “We’ve participated in Smithsonian’s free Museum Day program the past few years,” says Executive Director Jason Sohigian. “So when it was canceled this year, we decided in partnership with the Alan K. and Isabelle DerKazarian Foundation to offer free admission on the same weekend as Watertown’s Faire on the Square celebration, and show the Museum’s connection to the community.”

“In addition to the panel discussion and free admission, we are offering a special benefit to members of the Armenian Museum. The artist Ara Oshagan and curator Ryann Casey will offer free tours of the exhibition exclusively for members on September 23 at 11 a.m. and on September 24 at noon,” adds Sohigian. “We hope everyone will take advantage of these offerings as we kick off our fall programming.” 

To RSVP for the artist panel and artist tours for members, please visit the “Events” tab of the museum’s website.

This artist panel and “Disrupted, Borders” have been generously sponsored by Michele M. Kolligian in memory of Haig Der Manuelian for his dedication and foresight in sharing Armenia’s rich history and culture with the world, including an impressive collection of manuscripts that he gifted to the Armenian Museum.

The Armenian Museum of America is the largest Armenian museum in the Diaspora. It has grown into a major repository for all forms of Armenian material culture that illustrate the creative endeavors of the Armenian people over the centuries. Today, the Museum’s collections hold more than 25,000 artifacts including 5,000 ancient and medieval Armenian coins, 1,000 stamps and maps, 30,000 books, 3,000 textiles and 180 Armenian inscribed rugs, and an extensive collection of Urartian and religious artifacts, ceramics, medieval illuminations and various other objects. The collection includes historically significant objects, including five of the Armenian Bibles printed in Amsterdam in 1666.