YEREVAN—Hundreds of demonstrators, including children, gathered on Monday outside the UN Office in Yerevan to call on the international community to help lift the blockade of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh).
The demonstrators included displaced residents of Nagorno Karabakh who lost their homes in the 2020 war.
“In 2020, when the war started, a week later my family and I realized that we could not stay there any longer and came to Yerevan. Now, with this rally, we demand the opening of the Lachin corridor and the respect of our rights,” said 11-year-old Arman in an interview with journalists. Arman and his family are originally from Hadrut but are now living in Armenia.
One of the children participating in the rally said that he remembers his school, home, and friends with whom he played every day. Gevorg’s father is now in Artsakh; he is a police officer. Due to the blockade of Artsakh, he cannot meet his father.
The children participating in the rally wear T-shirts saying “No to the blockade of Artsakh,” “We are Artsakh,” and “Open the way of life.”
Dr. Aramayis Galumyan, a member of the professional council of the Artsakh Ministry of Health, noted in his speech that currently, a ‘terrorist attack’ is being committed against Artsakh.
“It is terrorism by a state, which is not a private terrorist group but a terrorist state. It is an unprecedented phenomenon; 120,000 people are surrounded, deprived of basic food and health services. What is this if not terrorism? All international organizations, all major powers that establish order in the world are responsible for this situation. We demand that the population of Artsakh be provided with food, health services, free movement through the corridor, and everything else,” Aramayis Galumyan told reporters.
Mariam Avagyan, coordinator of the Congress of Refugees from the Azerbaijani SSR, mentioned in her speech that Armenians have not lost hope that they can save Artsakh with soft power.
“The Yerevan office of the UN regularly reminds me personally that they do not deal with political issues. Now, I ask a question: Isn’t the death of 2 young children in the complete blockade a result of politics? Why has the Yerevan office of the UN not yet spoken out about the impending genocide against Artsakh, which is currently under a complete blockade? Today, Artsakh is subjected to genocide through exhaustion.” The UN office in Yerevan is obligated to act as a mediator between the UN office in New York and us and to convey to them that the UN needs to save its reputation. The UN should not forget that it is the successor of the League of Nations, which did not recognize Artsakh as a part of Azerbaijan. The UN should take control of its many conventions, according to which the Republic of Artsakh is a de facto and de jure established republic,” Avagyan said.
She added that they recently sent letters to officials in charge at the UN, reminding them that at least 820,000 Armenians became refugees from the first Artsakh war, and from the second war, as recorded by the UN, there are 26,750 refugees.
“We demanded that the UN Commissioner for Refugees come to Armenia and find out the concerns of Armenian refugees. With the second point, we requested that the Secretary-General’s adviser on the issue of genocide prevention provide information on what actions the UN is taking to stop the genocide carried out by Azerbaijan against the Armenians of Artsakh through exhaustion and to prevent it in the future,” said Mariam Avagyan.
The demonstrators then walked through downtown Yerevan to the Russian Embassy, where they held the same rally.
The demonstrators called on Russia to take action to open the Lachin Corridor.
The Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno Karabakh with 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. Moreover, Azerbaijan then illegally installed a checkpoint on the 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 warning that Baku seeks to commit ethnic cleansing against Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh. Hospitals have suspended normal operations, and the Red Cross has been facilitating the medical evacuations of patients.