Every year in April Armenians around the world gather to remember the 1.5 million men, women and children who perished in the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Here, in Fresno, hand-in-hand with non-Armenians, community members gather at City Hall for a flag raising homage, or at Fresno State for a memorial service. Making statements like “Never Again,” those in attendance try to share the pain of this unimaginable loss.
It seems like the Genocide was so long ago. In fact, this year it will be the 108th anniversary of April 24, 1915, the date attributed to the Genocide. Even though that single dark date is often referred to the Genocide, the killings began much earlier and in a systematic process. Today, there are many people who think it continues.
On Dec. 12, “Azerbaijani activists” backed by the Ilham Aliyev regime of Azerbaijan blocked the Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh to Armenia. This road is crucial for transporting necessities for the 120,000 Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh. The blocking of the Lachin Corridor is causing a humanitarian catastrophe.
For more than a month, no food, medicine, or fuel has been delivered to Artsakh. Thus, Azerbaijan has been keeping Armenians of Artsakh under siege, violating international law, in an attempt to eliminate the region’s Armenian population by hunger and cold. The people of Artsakh are running out of food, medicine and other vital supplies.
Empty store shelves in Nagorno Karabakh, the area of dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Artsakh TV
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Lilit Shahverdyan, a journalist based in Artsakh’s capital, Stepanakert, writes that there is now a system of couponed food rationing, frequent poweroutages, internet discontinuance, limited medication and postponed surgeries in Artsakh.
Due to the insufficient supply of food and other necessaries, kindergartens and preschool classes in Artsakh have been closed. The only electricity supply line to Artsakh has been damaged, according to Artsakh Energo, the electricity operator. Local Armenians in Artsakh say: “We feel that a genocide is unfolding in front of us once more, just as it did in 1915.”
With heavy snowfall and extreme cold, humanitarian aid delivery by theInternational Committee of the Red Cross is getting increasingly difficult.
According to the 2020 ceasefire agreement that halted the 44-day Azeri war against Artsakh, “The Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees traffic security along the Lachin Corridor for citizens, vehicles and for the transportation of goods in both directions.”
Aliyev, however, recently said that the road “is open to those who do not want to be citizens of Azerbaijan. They can go by their own means of transport, or in the cars of the Russian peacekeepers.” By these words Azerbaijan is officially announcing its objective of ethnic cleansing against Armenians. In the eyes of Azerbaijan, the Armenians who request their right to self-rule have no right to live in Artsakh.
Uzay Bulut Contributed
In her book “A Problem from Hell,” Samantha Power, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), asks the haunting question: Why do American leaders who vow “never again” repeatedly fail to stop genocide? Right now, a second Armenian genocide is taking place before our eyes. Will the US government do the right thing and prevent this potential genocide? All the Biden administration needs to do is to call Aliyev and tell him to end the illegal blockade.
The USAID must also help Artsakh by launching an airlift to Stepanakert airport in Artsakh and arranging emergency relief supplies in Armenia for immediate delivery as soon as Azerbaijan lifts its blockade. As Nobel laureate,and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel put it, “Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.”
To stop this ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign, it is crucial that the US government gets Azerbaijan to open the Lachin Corridor. Naturally it should cut its military aid to Azerbaijan, and initiate US humanitarian aid to Artsakh. The “Never Again” moment is now!
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