stop genocide in the caucasus
what's happening in armenia and artsakh and how you can help
On September 27, Azerbaijan launched an attack on the Armenian populated Republic of Artsakh, targeting civilians in the region’s capital of Stepanakert, as well as outlying villages including Martakert, Martuni, and Askeran. Since then, the attacks have become more and more serious. On September 29, Azerbaijan began bombing the town of Vardenis inside the Republic of Armenia, once again firing on civilian targets, this time destroying a civilian bus. Although there have been violations of the ceasefire between Artsakh and Azerbaijan in the past, this is the first time that Azerbaijan has attacked the capital of Artsakh since the initial war for independence in 1994. Also on September 29, a Turkish F-16 jet taking off from the Ganja airbase in Azerbaijan shot down an Armenian SU-25 fighter jet. Since then, on September 30, the Republic of Azerbaijan handed over the air command of offensive operations to the Turkish Air Force. Turkey has also sent Syrian mercenaries to fight in Armenia.
Meanwhile in Armenia, the country is mobilizing to defend itself. Although the Prime Minister of Armenia has said that “there is no military solution to this conflict,” and Armenians worldwide are calling for peace, there have been no moves by Turkey and Azerbaijan to cease attacks, so Armenia is currently mobilizing its citizens for defense. As the Prime Minister of Armenia said, Artsakh is “under existential threat,” so they have no choice but to fight. All men ages 18-55 are currently being mobilized for military service, and many have already gone to the front lines. Other civilians are organizing donation centers in every Armenian city, collecting funds, supplies, and essential medicine for soldiers and civilians hit by the attacks. The Armenian diaspora is also mobilizing to get much-needed supplies to Armenia. This conflict is more urgent than it has ever been, and Armenians are fighting for their lives.
Why The Conflict?
Since the founding of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan in 1918, the nation has had ethnic conflict with Armenia. This was partly an issue arising from the effort to create ethno-states, or states where political borders correspond to a single ethnic group, in the Caucasus region. Before the 1900s, the Caucasus was generally organized into kingdoms or principalities within larger empires, most notably the Russian and Persian empires. In this form of political organization, people of different ethnicities often lived within the same polity. Thus, there were Azeris living in Armenia and Armenians in Azerbaijan, and the enforcement of ethnic borders in this region came with huge campaigns of ethnic violence. In addition, anti-Armenian sentiment is bolstered by Azerbaijan’s close relationship with Turkey, which continues to deny the Armenian Genocide and persecute Armenians today.
In order to strengthen Soviet ties with Turkey, Stalin put a province of traditionally Armenian land, known as Artsakh, into the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan in 1923. Although relative peace was maintained by Soviet rule in the region, as the Soviet Union began to collapse, Armenians began to protest peacefully for their right to self-determination, and on February 20, 1988 the Regional Soviet of People’s Deputies of Nagorno Karabakh voted to join the Republic of Armenia. This was met with horrific violence against Armenians in the Azeri cities of Sumgait and Baku. I have heard stories from survivors of Armenians forced to leave their homes, and incidents like women thrown out of balconies, or set on fire. In the face of this violence, and impending threats on Artsakh, Armenians took up arms to defend themselves.
The Artsakh War was a war between the army of Artsakh, supported by the Army of Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The war ended in the ceasefire of 1994, and Artsakh gaining independence as a defacto republic.
After the ceasefire, the attacks on Armenia continued as Azerbaijan began to fire regularly on civilians in the border villages of Tavush province in Armenia. These firing campaigns were never meant to start another all-out war, but rather to keep the people of Tavush in a constant state of fear and threat, and to cut off their economic opportunities and livelihoods.
Armenians face a threat of genocide and need your help
The conflict remains an issue of ethnic cleansing and Genocide. Turkey’s president Erdogan has vowed to finish the Armenian Genocide, calling it a “mission, which our grandfathers have carried out for centuries.” President Erdogan has repeatedly denied the Armenian Genocide, which Turkey carried out in 1915. In addition, in 2005 at a meeting with a municipal delegation from Bavaria, Germany, the Mayor of Baku said, ‘‘Our goal is the complete elimination of Armenians. You, Nazis, already eliminated the Jews in the 1930s and 40s, right? You should be able to understand us.’’ Armenia is a tiny country of 3 million people, faced with the combined 94 million population of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The international community continues to stand by and watch these atrocities happen, as it did in 1915. Donald Trump, who had a notorious money laundering operation in Azerbaijan and has a monetary interest which he has called a “conflict of interest” in Turkey, likewise remains silent on this issue. This is a major human rights crisis and in the face of the silence and inaction of governments around the world, Armenians need your help.