As the blockade of Artsakh continues, two major ecumenical groups have issued statements strongly supporting Artsakh and Armenia in this time of crisis.

Thanks to the efforts of Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, two major ecumenical organizations have decried the cruelties inflicted against Artsakh and Armenia.

“By its actions in obstructing the humanitarian Lachin corridor, and by temporarily cutting gas supplies to the region just at the onset of winter, Azerbaijan is deliberately creating a humanitarian emergency for the 120,000 ethnic Armenian residents of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh, seeking to force Armenia into accepting a settlement on Azerbaijan’s terms, and trying to terrorize ethnic Armenians into abandoning their ancient homeland,” wrote the World Council of Churches in a letter to the European Union. “In these circumstances, Armenian fears of renewed genocide against them cannot be discounted.”

A communiqué from the U.S.-based National Council of Churches said: “We stand with the Armenian Church, and add our voices to those of the World Council of Churches, Pope Francis, and the Conference of European Churches. We call on the United States and its international allies to immediately pressure Azerbaijan to lift its unjust blockade and to allow food, medical supplies, and other essential resources to flow unimpeded.”

Below, read the full texts of the letters from the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches. And please feel free to share these statements with others in the surrounding community:

Letter of the World Council of Churches addressed to High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy European Union

The World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches denounces the blockade by Azerbaijan of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh, as a violation of the tripartite agreement that ended the six-week war of 2020, of international humanitarian and human rights law, and of the most fundamental moral principles. By its actions in obstructing the humanitarian Lachin corridor, and by temporarily cutting gas supplies to the region just at the onset of winter, Azerbaijan is deliberately creating a humanitarian emergency for the 120,000 ethnic Armenian residents of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh, seeking to force Armenia into accepting a settlement on Azerbaijan’s terms, and trying to terrorize ethnic Armenians into abandoning their ancient homeland.

This follows a clear pattern of behavior by Azerbaijan that contradicts any claims of goodwill and humanitarian responsibility on its part. Increasing Azerbaijani attacks on sovereign Armenian territory prompted the UN Security Council to call an emergency meeting on 15 September 2022. Growing evidence of gross violations of human rights against Armenians by Azerbaijan’s military and security forces compelled Human Rights Watch to accuse Baku of war crimes. Accountability for such crimes and violations has not been pursued. Moreover, Armenian religious and cultural heritage in the region remain largely unmonitored, unprotected and at risk.

In these circumstances, Armenian fears of renewed genocide against them cannot be discounted, and the already week-long blockade of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh is a context in which those fears are greatly and understandably exacerbated.

We therefore write to urge you to pursue all possible diplomatic initiatives to ensure that Azerbaijan re-opens the Lachin corridor and provides appropriate guarantees that it will remain open. Further, we appeal to you to do all in your power to secure extension of the mandate of the existing EU monitoring mission at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border to include the Lachin corridor, in order to provide independent civilian monitoring of the situation along the corridor.

We look forward to your response, and to your swift action to address these urgent humanitarian and human rights concerns.

Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca
Acting General Secretary World Council of Churches
Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen
General Secretary Conference of European Churches
19 December 2022

Communiqué of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA

Deuteronomy 10:17-18: For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA strongly condemns the actions by Azerbaijan that have cut off civilians in need in Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh. In a season where we celebrate the birth of Jesus in a cold stable, it is particularly horrific that civilians are being cut off in the middle of winter.

We stand with the Armenian Church and add our voices to those of the World Council of Churches, Pope Francis, and the Conference of European Churches. We call on the United States and its international allies to immediately pressure Azerbaijan to lift its unjust blockade and to allow food, medical supplies, and other essential resources to flow unimpeded.
December 21, 2022

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