The International Association of Genocide Scholars Executive Board strongly condemns Azerbaijan’s invasion of the Republic of Armenia and the ongoing aggression against the Armenian people in the Republic and in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and expresses concern about the risk of genocide against the Armenian population of that entity.
On 13 September 2022, Azerbaijan launched an attack on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. Using heavy artillery as well as multiple rocket launchers and attack drones, the Azerbaijani forces shelled the cities and towns of Vardenis, Goris, Ishkanasar, Kapan, Sotk, Artanish, and Jermuk and the surrounding villages in the Republic of Armenia. This attack resulted in over 210 confirmed deaths of Armenian soldiers and numerous civilian deaths and injuries. While a tenuous ceasefire still holds, Azerbaijan’s violence continues, including allegations of executions of Armenian prisoners of war. Over 7,000 civilians have been displaced, and civilian homes and local infrastructure destroyed in an attempt to ethnically cleanse Armenians from a large portion of the Republic of Armenia.
Significant genocide risk factors exist in the Nagorno-Karabakh situation concerning the Armenian population. Noting in particular that this violence occurs in the context of a prior genocide against ethnic Armenians in 1915 – 1923 by the Ottoman Empire (which became Turkey), and the continued relationship between Turkey and Azerbaijan. In 1920, Turkey sought to disarm the Armenians and arm the Azerbaijanis, resulting in conflict, Armenian exodus, and atrocities against Armenians in an Azerbaijani offensive. Turkey continues to support Azerbaijan in the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict (including through the provision of drones and mercenaries). Turkish President Erdoğan has referred to the Armenians as ‘occupiers’, despite centuries of history of Urartians and their descendents, the Armenians, in the region.
The current violence is part of a lengthy, related process of violence by the Azerbaijani regime against the indigenous Armenian population of the South Caucasus. There have been several armed conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno- Karabakh territory, in the 1980s-1990s, with the most recent beginning in September 2020 and continuing into 2022, despite supposed ceasefires. The current conflict has included the use of indiscriminate weapons, and civilian deaths and displacement.
Azerbaijani authorities have been openly delivering hate speech against Armenians. Acts of incitement or hate propaganda have targeted Armenians. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has specifically noted that the following acts are risk factors for genocide:
‘Systematic and widespread use and acceptance of speech or propaganda promoting hatred and/or inciting violence against minority groups, particularly in the media’; and