STEPANAKERT — Artsakh NGOs have sent an open letter to the international community concerning Azerbaijan’s policy of ethnic cleansing. The civil society of Artsakh, in their letter, appeals to international human rights organizations and civil society to amplify the voice of Artsakh in the global community. They urge these organizations to demand concrete actions from their respective governments to prevent further crimes against humanity committed by Azerbaijan.

The letter states, “The people of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) face the threat of genocide and appeal to all countries and peoples of the world, as well as international organizations responsible for upholding international law.”

The letter describes the actions taken by Azerbaijan since June 15, 2023, including the provocation on the Hakari Bridge, the ongoing blockade of Artsakh, and the obstruction of humanitarian transportation. These actions have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the region. Concrete blocks were installed on the bridge on June 22, 2023, effectively cutting off the only road connecting Artsakh with Armenia and the outside world.

The letter emphasizes that Azerbaijan’s actions should not be viewed as isolated acts of aggression but as part of a consistent and systematic policy of ethnic cleansing against Artsakh and its indigenous Armenian population. The letter also highlights a recent military provocation by Azerbaijan on June 28, 2023, resulting in the death of four Artsakh servicemen.

The letter criticizes Azerbaijan for disregarding resolutions adopted by the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Azerbaijan’s refusal to provide security guarantees for the people of Artsakh is highlighted, as is their insistence that the conflict is an internal problem that they will solve unilaterally.

The letter welcomes the growing international understanding of the need for firm international guarantees of protection for the people of Artsakh. It expresses gratitude to those who have spoken out against Azerbaijan’s policies, including congressmen in the US Congress. The letter also hopes for increased global understanding of the root causes of the conflict, including the legitimate request of Nagorno-Karabakh to withdraw from the Azerbaijani SSR and join Armenia in 1988, which triggered Azerbaijani aggression and a bloody war.

The letter draws parallels between the situation in Artsakh and the Second World War, asking if it would have been acceptable to ask Jews to live under Hitler’s Nazi regime. It accuses Azerbaijan of being a modern-day Nazi state with regard to the treatment of Armenians. The letter calls for the use of all existing international mechanisms to prevent ethnic cleansing and genocide by Azerbaijan.

Given the current situation, the letter demands the presence of representatives from all relevant international organizations in Artsakh. It calls on the UN to send an international mission to Artsakh to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and strengthen the functioning of the peacekeeping institute. Additionally, due to Azerbaijan’s refusal to implement ECHR and ICJ decisions, the international community is urged to impose sanctions on the country.

The letter concludes by appealing to the international human rights and civil society to help amplify the voice of Artsakh and demand that their governments take concrete preventive measures to stop Azerbaijan’s crimes against humanity. It stresses that the recognition of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh, based on the right to self-determination, is the only reliable guarantee of their rights and security. Artsakh is portrayed as not merely a territory but as their homeland, where they have an inherent right to a secure life. The letter asserts that the treatment of Artsakh is a test of the values proclaimed by the democratic world and a litmus test of the prevailing world order. The choice between lies, discrimination, violence, terrorism, and authoritarianism versus freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights will define the essence of the changing world order.

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