Nadeera Dickwella

By Nadeera Dickwella

After the Armenian Genocide committed by the Ottoman Turks at the begining of the last century, the world thought it would be the last time that such atrocity on a targeted ethnic group would ever happen, only to be proven wrong by Adolf Hitler who with his heinous final solution massacred 6 million Jews. The post second world war order led by the United States had a larger emphasis on human rights and the enforced democratic institutions along with international bodies such as the United Nations were supposed to guarantee a world without human tragedies, let alone a genocide. But in Rwanda humanity failed yet again. The power-hungry political elites have shown no regret in conquering lands, repressing populations and imposing sieges amounting to acts of genocide time and again.

The latest tragedy unfolding in such a connotation has been in news circles for nearly a century. Lying in a geopolitical hotspot right under the soft underbelly of the Russian Federation, the population in this 3,170 km² unrecognized republic is home to nearly 150,000 plus people.

The people known as ethnic Armenians in the Artsakh Republic are not just another repressed community but a warrior nation that has fended off large enemies, fought and emerged victorious in wars and, most importantly, fiercely preserved its cultural heritage and religion. Considered by some to be the direct descendants of Noah who saved humanity from extinction, the Armenians of this tiny region have a history dating back to thousands of years, unlike some of its neighbors who sprung into existence much later.

As a result of the Soviet delimitation, they happened to be an autonomous region of the Azerbaijani SSR who had been sworn enemies and who took pride in annihilating them at every turn. Although this could be interpreted as another royal flub of the Soviets, the reason was a classic power play by Stalin in containing the Turks in their grand project of uniting people of Turkic origin. The dissolution of the USSR presented an opportunity for Baku to swallow the Artsakh republic known as Nagarno Karabakh at the time. Outnumbered and outgunned, their fate was sealed. In a Goliath and David style conflict known as the first Karabakh war, the Armenians in Artsakh decisively defeated the Azerbaijanis in a true fashion of valor and glory. Fast forward three decades, they are facing yet another existential threat. The same old enemy from Baku has come up with the most inhumane, criminal, shocking strategy to finish off the Armenians in Artsakh for good. Their scheme to impose a blockade of Artsakh is reminiscent of a siege in medieval times. What is unfolding in the tiny mountainous region is a true horror and slowly but gradually turning into a genocide of a new genre.

What started as ecoactivism has been turned into mass ecoterrorism. Baku is taking pride in completely cutting off Artsakh from its only lifeline that runs through what is known as the Lachin corridor. This is happening while the European Union pumps billions to Baku’s treasury with its purchase of blood oil and gas, while the Russian Federation, which is supposed to guarantee the peace and the stability in the region, keeps a blind eye. Tens of condemnations, calls for restoring the Lachin corridor by various political figures have fallen to deaf ears. As it has always been the case Armenians are forced to fight a lone battle of their own.

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Food, water, medicine and almost all the basic needs are running out. From babies to young adults to senior citizens, everyone’s life is in grave danger and getting worse by day. The only thing that has not run out is the fierce, undying spirit of the population. They are not ready to give in to the whims and fancies of a dictator from a sham democracy. Baku is determined to break the will of the people and rob them of their independence. They are encouraged by the tacit support by the alleged buyers of their gas and oil and the condoning of the Russian peacekeepers. While the whole world is watching, Azerbaijanis are tightening their grip and getting ready to strangle the population. The UN Security Council failed to garner any tangible resolution and Baku believes that it could force Artsakh to accept an alternative route that runs through Azerbaijan proper by ignoring the human plight and sustaining the blockade.

Russians vehemently oppose the presence of the EU mission in the Caucasus that has the full cooperation of Yerevan. So they pretend to be totally handicapped and unable to pressure Baku to reconsider its position. If it was some other post Soviet republic the same Russians would have blocked the cargo trains, oil pipelines or send the Wagners to deal with the situation. The EU mission keeps issuing statements one after the other but does not take an initiative similar to what it does in the Ukrainian theater to call the Azerbajanis the aggressors, even when their own vehicles come under Azerbaijani gunfire. After all, the Southern gas corridor is more vital to the EU than a tiny population facing extinction by their very supplier.

Although the powerful Armenian diaspora managed to defeat the pro-Turkish Dr. Mehmet Oz in the American senatorial elections, it has not been able to persuade the White House to do anything meaningful. The pro-Armenian French president Emmanuel Macron is busy with retreating French power in Africa. What better times for Azerbaijanis to squash this tiny nation from the face of earth. When Baku is the most critical piece of the Chinese led BRICS, they are guaranteed to ignore the pleas of Armenians completely. The collective west is preoccupied by their investment in democracy defending Ukraine.

Unless and otherwise the Global South and its de facto leader India takes the initiative to address this tragedy, Aliyev will be able to raise the Azerbaijani flag over Stepanakert sitting proudly on a pile of perished Armenians proposing a toast to everyone who decided to ignore their part of the responsibility.

(This article has been lightly edited from its original version published in the Asian Review)

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