LOS ANGELES, Sept. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region unequivocally condemns Azerbaijan's coordinated assault against the Republic of Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh).
On the morning of September 27th local time, Azerbaijan began a coordinated full-scale invasion of Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh) - the most significant violation of the ceasefire since the ceasefire was established in 1994. The aerial and missile assault has seen Azerbaijan engage in the deliberate targeting of civilian populations throughout Artsakh, including the capital city Stepanakert and the surrounding regions of Askeran, Martuni, and Martakert – where an elderly woman and a child were killed. As of September 28th, 84 Armenian service-members have been killed and over 200 injured in Azerbaijan's assault.
The coordinated military assault by Azerbaijan under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic comes only months after Azerbaijan's aggression against the Republic of Armenia in July, and after joint live-fire military exercises with Turkey in August.
In the weeks leading up to Azerbaijan's attack on Artsakh, signs of coordination and escalation were apparent; with evidence of Azerbaijan's mobilization of reservists, the commandeering of civilian vehicles for military use, and Turkey's transporting of Syrian mercenaries to Azerbaijan. Reports from the Republic of Artsakh's government also indicate that Turkish F-16s are operational in Azerbaijan's assault against Artsakh – a severe escalation of conflict entirely consistent with Turkey's expansionist neo-Ottoman foreign policy.
Turkey has played an increasingly active role in supporting the Azerbaijani regime's aggression, particularly since the latter instigated conflict with the Republic of Armenia in July. Shortly after Azerbaijan's most recent assault on Artsakh began, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated his full support for Azerbaijan and called for the overthrow of the Armenian government.
For too long, Azerbaijan has been enabled by the silence of global leaders, international organizations and media that have refrained from identifying Azerbaijan as an aggressor – instead drawing false equivalence between the two countries in calling on "both sides" to cease hostility. Azerbaijan has been the only party responsible for the instigation and escalation of conflict, and the only party that has refused to adhere to OSCE Minsk Group ceasefire and de-escalation protocols.
Azerbaijan recently disavowed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group peace process, with President Ilham Aliyev slamming the OSCE Minsk Group and its co-chairs U.S., France, and Russia Co-Chairs, calling their Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) mediation efforts "pointless" and threatening to resolve the issue militarily.
While the United States has been calling on sides to "prepare populations for peace", Azerbaijan has been preparing its population for war – over the last two decades, inculcating a vitriolic hatred of Armenians throughout all levels of society openly incited by the government.
By the reports of international human rights institutions including the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights, Azerbaijan's leadership has institutionalized anti-Armenian racism throughout all levels of society. Azerbaijan's virulent state-sponsored anti-Armenian racism has resulted in the incitement of hate crimes including the destruction of cultural monuments, and granting impunity to the perpetrators of hate crimes.
Following Azerbaijan's aggression against the Republic of Armenia in July, tens of thousands of Azerbaijani demonstrators took to the streets of Baku demanding war with Armenia, and chanting "death to Armenians." This hate has been exported to diaspora communities including in the United States where in recent weeks, most notably in San Francisco, California, a string of Armenophobic attacks against an Armenian church and elementary school are being investigated as hate crimes.
For the Armenian people, Azerbaijan's attack on Artsakh is an existential threat. Artsakh is an historic part of the Armenian nation, and a bastion of Armenian civilization that has had a majority Armenian population for millennia. The region was forcibly separated from Armenia by Stalin following the Soviet occupation of the Caucasus and placed under the administrative control of the Azerbaijani SSR in an attempt to appease an ascendant Turkey. Under Soviet rule, Azerbaijani authorities embarked on a campaign of cultural erasure, economic marginalization, and the forced displacement of Armenians in an attempt to cleanse the region of its Armenian presence.
In response, the Armenians of Artsakh in the late 1980s began to call for reunification with Armenia as a means of ensuring their fundamental rights in face of an increasingly belligerent Azerbaijan. Following pogroms and massacres organized by Azerbaijan against Armenian populations in Baku, Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Maragha, Artsakh declared its independence in 1991 to secure its right to exist in the face of genocidal persecution. Azerbaijan responded by escalating the conflict to a full-scale war, perpetrating wholesale massacres, blockading and bombarding civilian populations, and forcibly displacing hundreds of thousands of Armenians. By 1994, the tide had turned against Azerbaijan and a ceasefire was reached, whereby a democratic government was elected in Artsakh and began operating fully independently from Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has repeatedly, in the years since the war, violated the ceasefire and declared its intent to destroy and occupy not only Artsakh, but the Republic of Armenia itself – an objective rooted in an ideology of pan-Turkism, the same expansionist ideology that informed the Armenian genocide 105 years ago. Turkey and Azerbaijan consider themselves to be "one state, two nations" – and have routinely coordinated to undermine the integrity of the Armenian nation, maintaining illegal unilateral blockades of 80% of Armenia's borders in an attempt to suffocate the country.
The ANCA-WR welcomes statements of support from U.S. Congress-members condemning Azerbaijan's aggression including Adam Schiff, who represents the district with the highest concentration of Armenians in the United States, Senator Bob Menendez, who led the Senate effort to recognize the Armenian Genocide last year, Frank Pallone, co-chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, as well as Representatives Jason Crowe, Linda Sanchez, Carolyn Maloney, Dina Titus, Brad Sherman, Ed Markey, and TJ Cox, as well as other local and state elected officials.
The ANCA-WR strongly condemns the acts of aggression by Azerbaijan and calls on the international community, including the United States, to end its appeasement of Azerbaijan and hold this genocidal dictatorship accountable for its egregious violations of fundamental human rights and its perpetration of war crimes against civilian populations.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.
SOURCE Armenian National Committee of America Western Region