BERLIN — On September 2, Armenians in Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt were joined by local human rights groups in demonstrations to protest the threatened genocide in Karabakh (Artsakh), and demand effective humanitarian and political intervention.
The Berlin-based grass-roots movement Theophanu Club Germany, along with the Central Council of Armenians in Germany (ZAD), the human rights group AGA, and others, shared a call issued by the United Peoples Movement to Save Artsakh for simultaneous demonstrations worldwide on September 2. In Frankfurt, in addition to the ZAD were the Armenian Cultural Association in Hessen (AKH), Association of Genocide Opponents (VVG), Democratic Peoples and Cultural Center (DVK), New Democratic Youth Club (VNDJ), and in Hamburg, also the Armenian Youth Association-Cilicia (AJK).
When the groups announced their plans for protest actions, news of the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis had finally broken in the German press, and by the time organizers put up their banners, the impending hunger catastrophe had become major news in national media. The mass weeklies, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, and Stern, as well as leading dailies, online media, and national radio and television, ran interviews and reports.
In the wake of growing public exposure, expanding protest letters, petitions, and demonstrations, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was forced to issue a stronger statement than heretofore. In the context of the EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Toledo, Spain on August 31, she declared: “The people in Nagorno-Karabakh must finally receive what they need to live. The Lachin Corridor must be open for humanitarian aid.”
In Berlin, Lilith Kocharyan from the Theophanu Club stressed that their gathering was taking place on 32nd Independence Day of Karabakh: its population now blockaded, facing starvation, and its very existence threatened. Thus, the crucial importance of international solidarity.
Summarizing the developments leading up to the existential crisis, she outlined the measures required to save the population. “Genocide Watch,” she reported, “classifies the situation in Artsakh to be at the ‘Persecution’ stage, the 8th of 10 recognized stages of Genocide, and urges immediate intervention and sanctions to be imposed on Azerbaijan by the world powers.” Since calls from several governments, and orders from international courts to lift the blockade have fallen on deaf ears, she demanded that the EU “implement its Responsibility to Protect (R2P) commitment,” which means protection from ethnic cleansing and genocide, by imposing sanctions, launching international criminal prosecutions, “and as a last resort, military action.”