A checkpoint on the road between Armenia and Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. January 2021.
Yesterday at 10:30 am, Azerbaijani activists and soldiers set up a blockade on the only road connecting Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia, and thus to the rest of the world.
As of 6 pm Armenia time, December 13, the road is still blocked. The 120,000 Armenian Christian residents of Nagorno Karabakh are now effectively under siege.
Hundreds of Armenian residents of Karabakh are stranded in Armenia, unable to return home. The Karabakh health authorities are unable to transport patients to Armenia for treatment. Local authorities are warning of a humanitarian disaster if Nagorno Karabakh is cut off from fuel, medicine, food, and other vital supplies from the outside world.
Reached today by phone, Vardan Tadevosyan, the director of the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre in Stepanakert and CSI’s project partner in Karabakh, made these comments:
“It is freezing cold and today there is no electricity. The disabled children and adults at the Rehabilitation Centre are anxious. The Azeris and their Turkish allies could attack again at any time. Everyone here recalls the Armenian Genocide and the ethnic cleansing and atrocities committed against Armenians in 1988-1994 and 2020. The Azeris circulate on their social media photos and videos of beheadings and other executions of Armenians, just like the Islamic State. There is a real danger of Armenians being trapped and massacred here if Azerbaijan is allowed by its partners in the West and elsewhere to take further special military operations against us.
“We hope the great powers’ oil interests in Azerbaijan and geopolitical interests in Turkey will not lead them to turn a blind eye to a resumption of the Armenian Genocide in Nagorno Karabakh. We appeal to Azerbaijan’s economic and military partners to put a halt to the Aliyev regime’s aggression.”
Since Azerbaijan and Turkey’s 2020 war of aggression against the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh, the self-governing region has been almost completely surrounded by the Azerbaijani military, with only a small Russian peacekeeping force to protect the population. Thus far, the Russians have not used force to end the blockade.
Azerbaijan’s campaign of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno Karabakh in 1988-1994 began similarly, with a blockade of road and rail traffic into the region, followed by armed attacks. The clear aim of the Azerbaijani dictatorship is to make it impossible for Armenian Christians to live in their homeland.
CSI stands in solidarity with the Armenian Christians of Nagorno Karabakh. We support their right to govern themselves in their homeland, and we call on the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, and the Russian Federation to compel Azerbaijan to end the siege of Nagorno Karabakh.