In the early morning of September 27, 2020, the Republic of Azerbaijan launched large-scale military offensive along the entire Line of Contact between the Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan, targeting civilian settlements, including the capital of Artsakh, Stepanakert.

In response to recent events, Prof. Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, Zoryan Institute Board Member, shares an article published in the Institute for the Study of Genocide (IGS) newsletter by Christoph H. Benedikter about the longstanding conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, titled Genocide as Conflict Resolution? In his article, Benedikter refers to the 2016 “Four Day War” and highlights how pressure from major powers like Russia and the United States helped to quickly bring the violence to an end. He then states,

“…however, the roots of the conflict remain unchanged. A new escalation, more comprehensive than a previous one, is therefore likely to happen. If the well- equipped armed forces of Azerbaijan succeed in winning a decisive victory, this could mean the end of Armenian life and Armenian culture in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan’s foreign and security policy and the increasingly clear statements of its president and other dignitaries suggest that genocide is at least accepted, if not already planned.”

Since 2016, there continues to be a number of border clashes, threats and instances of violence between Azerbaijan and the Republic of Artsakh. As recently as July of this year, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev threatened to bomb the Armenian nuclear power plant, which could have catastrophic consequences for the civilian population of the entire region, especially on either side of the Turkey and Armenia border, possibly leading to an event comparable to Chernobyl.

The most recent hostilities carried out by the Azerbaijani side, on September 27, 2020, contradict all international human rights norms. The reports along with videos and photos taken on site demonstrate that Azerbaijan has bombed settlements tens of kilometers far from the Line of Contact, targeting schools, kindergartens, hospitals, apartments and other civilian buildings, causing casualties among the civilian population.

Turkey’s military involvement in the conflict between the Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan exacerbates the situation, and could be dangerous for the security of the entire region. It is no secret that Baku, with the undisguised support of Turkey, aims to assume control of the Republic of Artsakh. In the process, as Christoph H. Benedikter predicted, this could possibly lead to ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide.

Armenians experienced genocide under Ottoman rule in 1915, and Turkish involvement in this conflict has the possibility of reigniting a trauma that has been passed down through generations. The consequences of this war extend beyond the conflict itself, as ethnic cleansing and genocide are a real threat to Armenians of this region.

The Zoryan Institute Armenia calls on human rights organizations and the leadership of the world’s major powers to recognize the enshrined rights of self-determination codified in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, and exert their influence in the South Caucasus to stop this war before it escalates any further and to prevent the potential genocide in the making.

Zoryan Institute, a non-profit organization, serves the cause of scholarship and public awareness relating to issues of universal human rights, genocide, and diaspora-homeland relations. This is done through the systematic continued efforts of scholars and specialists using a comparative and multidisciplinary approach and in accordance with the highest academic standards.

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