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On-the-Ground Reports from Journalists and Sources in Artsakh

Evidence since September 19, 2023 of an unfolding genocide

Kevork N. Abazajian, Ph.D.

Professor of Physics & Astronomy

University of California, Irvine


Updated 7:30 pm PT, October 1, 2023

Executive Summary

The situation on the ground in Artsakh since September 19 is deeply alarming, with reports of large-scale assaults on villages resulting in the estimated massacre of 1,000 civilians, including beheadings of children in front of their parents. In a horrifying display, captures from Azeri social media have been found to offer bounties for decapitated heads and ears of Armenian children. Furthermore, there are reports of all males over 14 being rounded up in villages and in Stepanakert. Attacks on civilians are numerous, and have been corroborated by geolocation-confirmed video footage showing Azerbaijani soldiers firing on homes. Civilian infrastructure is also under attack, with bombs causing extensive damage. Disturbingly, there are reports suggesting that there exists an Azerbaijani “kill list,” comprising 400 to 1,000 leaders and media figures, including U.S. Citizens in Artsakh.


The humanitarian crisis is escalating, with 10,000 to 50,000 people displaced and spending nights in the open air, including at the Stepanakert airport. Communication is nearly impossible due to Azerbaijani military presence on roads and severed telephone and internet connections, leaving remote villages isolated. This has resulted in the separation of thousands of families who are unable to contact their loved ones. Road closures make it difficult to reunite families, evacuate the wounded, recover the dead, or even obtain reports from villages and towns on the front lines.


The healthcare infrastructure is severely compromised; hospitals are without essential medicine and electricity. Additionally, a lack of fuel has rendered ambulances non-operational. Food scarcity continues to plague the region, leaving 120,000 people hungry and tens of thousands displaced from their homes. This crisis is taking place against the backdrop of an over thirty-year campaign by Azerbaijan aimed at dehumanizing Armenians, a campaign that is seemingly designed to prepare the ground for the continued elimination of the Armenian population in territory controlled by Azerbaijan. The conclusion is unanimous from genocide scholars and institutes that study and aim to prevent genocide, including Melanie O’Brien, Chair of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, Genocide Watch, The Lemkin Institute, as well as the founding prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo. They have determined that Artsakh is enduring an active genocide.


Selection of Sources

Artsakh-based reporters & sources (X/Twitter): largely isolated in Stepanakert


Armenia-based reporters and sources (X/Twitter)


Global Armenian activists covering events (X/Twitter)


Reports of War Crimes

Reports of large-scale atrocities in Artsakh villages, reportedly Taghavard and Vardadzor. Some reports are that those refusing to leave were killed with small arms fire. [1,2,3]





Reports are that those refusing to leave were killed with small arms fire [another source].



Translation of report of family executed when refusing to flee in Vardadzor, Aravot.am:


Narine Kirakosyan, one of the residents of Vardadzor village in Martakert region, told Aravot.am that although the village was evacuated, there were residents who refused to leave the village. “Then we learned that Azerbaijanis entered the village and shot a family in their house. They were husband and wife. The Azerbaijanis ordered the husbands to leave the house. They refused. They killed him on the spot. Then the son of the murdered people came to take his parents, he didn't know that they were killed, the Azerbaijanis killed him right in the car,” said our interlocutor.


Reports of villages under siege with population unable to evacuate:



Reports [translation of this Armenian language report]:

  • Two reports of beheadings of children, including in front of their parents

  • Beheading of an Artsakh soldier, Razmik Khachatryan

  • Gathering of all males over 14 years of age for removal in the capital, Stepanakert


Report of Azerbaijani Telegram Channels bounties of $500 USD for children's dismemberment and ears.



Second report of Azerbaijani Telegram Channels bounties of $500 USD for children's dismemberment and ears.


Reports of bids on raping  and killing women who were posted by Artsakh residents looking for their family members. This was presented by the Foreign Minister of Armenia to the UN Security Council on September 21. 



Indiscriminate firing into houses by Azerbaijani forces, posted on Telegram. Geolocated by NK Observer.


Geolocation by NK Observer:



Reports of shells/bombs/drones falling indiscriminately on civilians in Stepanakert:



Reports of women and children wounded and killed.



Video of eyewitness testimony of arbitrary firing into a village and targeted killing of children.



Reports of “kill lists” of Artsakh leaders and media figures, including former military, parliament members, reporters, NGO officials. This list is reported to include U.S. Citizens.



Reports of terror activity by Azerbaijani forces



Video of the reported torture and killing of an Armenian non-combatant



Reports of 500 Artsakhi-Armenian service members killed, 600 missing.



Video reports of the aftermath of the execution of Armenian (graphic), with archive of video here. More video reports of many dead (graphic) are here: 1, 2, 3.



Reports of massacre and killing of intervening Russian peacekeepers



Report of execution and beheading of civilian



Translation of transcript of video above:


Victim 1: They are neither giving the body of the other one

Victim 1: nor I can find this one, or Poghos

Reporter: A son of this Artsakh woman fell while protecting homeland

Reporter: Two serviceman sons are surrounded.

Reporter: One of her grandchildren died due to the bombardment of the enemy.

Reporter: One is missing, the other heavily wounded

Reporter: is in the Arevik Medical Center in Stepanakert

Reporter: The enemy doesn't allow the body of the 23-year-old son

Reporter: to be brought down from the trenches.

Reporter: They've told the mother the enemy beheaded her son.

Victim 1: They went to help to take him out but they saw

Victim 1: they shoot him in front of their eyes, he fell, and died.

Victim 1: and then they cut his neck.

Reporter: They still couldn't take out the body of this woman's 10-year-old grandchild

Reporter: from one of the villages in Askeran.

Reporter: They've promised from Red Cross to go after the bodies

in the upcoming days.

Victim 1: All the bodies are still in the village, whoever died there.  

Victim 1: All the bodies still remain in the village.

Reporter: Is her 8-year-old grandchild alive?

Reporter: On the day of the bloody ethnic cleansing of Armenians

Reporter: the neighbors saw him and told the grandmother

Reporter: that he escaped during the bombing

Reporter: Some said maybe the Azeris took him away

Victim 1: One says this, the other one says another thing

Victim 1: so we don't know what we can do to find him

Victim 1: They are not saying anything, there's nothing.

Reporter: For the past two days, the Ombudsman Office and other governmental instituions

Reporter: have received more than 600 calls.

Reporter: People report about their missing relatives, asking to help find them

Victim 2: Red Cross said to come back later if I have news.

Reporter: Today, this man from Askeran desparately went to the Ombudsman and Red Cross offices again.

Reporter: He saw his wife in the videos spread in Azerbaijani telegram channels.

Victim 2: Turks took my wife away. She's in Aghdam or I don't know where she is.

Reporter: He saw three other women and a man from his village in the videos

Reporter: His wife is wounded.

Victim 2: She has two blast injuries on her side and one on her leg.

Reporter: The Artsakh Ombudsman's office is receiving distressing reports regarding

Reporter: Azerbaijan's terrorism against the peaceful population of Artsakh

Reporter: They are encouraging in the Azerbaijnai telegram channels to find the missing

Reporter: to kill, torture and rape them.


Eyewitness reports of entire villages slaughtered. “Animals. They didn’t spare anyone. Not even the disabled boy, Tigran. They killed the whole village. My brother Vitalik with his wife and 3 children ran into the woods. Took them 3 days to get to Stepanakert. They made it, thankfully.”



Eyewitness reports of the beheading of children in Sarnaghbyur Village (video file).



Eyewitness report of shelling of homes



Reports indicate that civilians are being held captive by the Azerbaijani military after sustaining injuries. One man discovered through social media that his injured wife is among those in captivity. In the same social media videos, he also recognized three other women and a man from his village who are likewise being held, on September 23.


Video of the group is linked here.



Video of the beating of a reported Armenian wounded captive on an anti-Armenian Telegram channel, with the subtitle “Bliss.” An archived version is at this link.



Kill lists posted on Patriot_AZ Telegram on 9/23, with the demand “Find and destroy!” [1, 2, 3]





Reports of Azerbaijani troops desecrating the dead. Original unedited video was provided by NK Observer and is here.



Reports of Azerbaijani troops beheading the wounded. Original unedited video was provided by NK Observer and is here.



Azerbaijani soldiers reported to fire on civilians fleeing violence. Those civilians are reporting that half of their village was shot and killed by Azerbaijanis.



Armenian philanthropist Ruben Vardanyan was reported by his spouse to be arrested by Azerbaijani forces when forcibly displaced to Armenia, followed by a threat to the Human Rights Ombudsman, Artak Beglaryan.




Arman, a 15-year-old boy from Sarnaghbuyr, a small town in Artsakh, told the BBC “They started bombing everywhere. Some people got killed, some were wounded, I saw some people who had had their heads blown off. It was horrendous,” in an article on September 27.



Azerbaijaniheavy arms and shells arereported to be used to destroy the 13th century Charektar Monastery.




Video reports of Azerbaijanis desecrating Artsakh Armenian cemeteries.



Video reports of indiscriminate killing, and the torture and murder of a female civilian (received 9/29/23)



Azerbaijani soldiers on video, reported to be looking for Armenians to kill who are left behind in villages in Artsakh.



Report from Verin Hoghatagh village, where at least 6 disabled ppl, including the eyewitness’ brother, were massacred, and a woman named Anush was raped, mutilated & killed.



Elderly civilian reports to have been held captive, abducted by Azeris, tortured, beaten, then released. (Original, without subtitles on YouTube.)



Blockade of Roads and Telecommunication Blackout

NetBlocks is “the Internet's Observatory: Tracking cybersecurity and digital governance • connectivity and democracy.” They report a near internet blackout in Artsakh since mid-day, September 19.


Because of Azerbaijani military blockades of roads, reports of no possibility to access what has occurred in remote villages, evacuate the wounded, or retrieve those killed. We are still operating in a blackout as of September 22.



Families unable to connect with loved ones, including children looking for parents [1,2]




As of September 23, lack of electricity and communication is coming to the capital, Stepanakert, bringing worries of the start of mass atrocities there.. Reporting from 301 arm of Mary8Black (assistant to the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh) in Stepanakert:


Mary’s message runs as follows,

“There is no electricity whatsoever in Stepanakert. The several places which provided some limited electricity are now left with no power, too. My battery is running out soon.


The scariest thing is to get cut off from the entire world, so no one would ever know what happened to us here.


Just the mere thought that our only security guarantor - the defence army and the Armenian soldier - is no longer allowed to protect us, is terrifying me.


I don't feel safe anymore, as I did before, as much as I would convince myself to. There is no place in Artsakh to hide from them anymore.


This is how my home looks and sounds like right now.

I am living alone. And it's a complete darkness all around.


For a second, I imagine how Azeris sneak into the city and kill us all asleep. Just like Ramil Safarov - now a national hero of Azerbaijan - did with the sleeping Armenian lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan in Budapest in 2004.


They haven't changed much ever since, nor has their desire to wipe us out completely. 120,000 people of Artsakh and I don't trust their false humanitarian agenda. Don't trust it, too.


I can't fall asleep, because I am simply afraid to.


Genocide, day 4”


Reports of roads still blocked on September 23 while erasing genocidal atrocities in remote villages.



Forcibly displaced persons, lack of shelter, food, medicine

Reports of 10,000 to 50,000 forcibly displaced persons fleeing fighting and atrocities.


Thousands at Stepanakert airport.



Reports of no food available at the airport.


Reports of many internally-displaced people now in Stepanakert, in dire conditions.



Many regions are reported without power.



Reports of little to no humanitarian aid making it to those in need. [1,2]




The humanitarian situation is reported to be catastrophic.



A well-done summary of the status as of September 22.



From Republic of Armenia Facebook Sept. 24:


As of 24:00, 1,510 forcibly displaced persons entered Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh.


Of these, census data for 1,060 have been summarized and needs assessment for 450 is in the process of identification.


Of the 1,060 registered, 503 wanted to go to places of residence of their own choice, and 557 were allocated a place of residence offered by the government (a part of the placement is still in progress).


Counting for support needs is ongoing.


Large explosion at a fuel depot was reported to cause numerous injuries, adding to wounded by military offensive [1, 2, 3]. Stepanakert’s hospital is overwhelmed with critical injuries with calls for evacuation of the wounded, who are reported to not likely survive the night if not evacuated [1, 2, 3, 4].




As of 9/26 at 8 am Armenian time, 13,350 forcibly displaced persons were reported by the Republic of Armenia to have arrived into Armenia as of 9/25, with 20 hour waits reported to cross the border.


NK Observer reports that Azerbaijani military will expedite the process so as the forced displacement is more efficient.