WASHINGTON — The Congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held an emergency hearing on the ongoing blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Lachin Corridor on Wednesday, September 6, emphasizing the deteriorating conditions on the ground in Artsakh, and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the commission, recommended holding Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev accountable for his genocidal intent, and stressed the need for new legislation, including the “Nagorno-Karabakh Human Rights Act.”
The hearing featured testimony from Luis Morena Ocampo, former prosecutor of the International Court of Justice, and David L. Phillips, Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University and Director of Columbia University’s Program on Human Rights and Peace-building and the Atrocities Artsakh Project. In addition, the Armenian Assembly of America also submitted testimony.
In his remarks, Smith noted that “120,000 ethnic Armenians have been sealed off from food and medicine and are being starved to death by the government of Azerbaijan…the starvation process has been advancing at a terrifying rate.”
He underscored that Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor is a “crime of genocide that was planned, tested and imposed by… President Aliyev, who rules Azerbaijan with an iron fist as a dictator.”
Smith announced that a Nagorno-Karabakh Human Rights Act will soon be introduced in order for the Legislative and Executive branches to speak out “boldly and accurately” about the intent of genocide occurring in Artsakh.
Tracing the history of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh back 2,000 years, he stated that Armenians have “defended and governed themselves” since their independence in 1994, with an ability to be “connected to the outside world by the Lachin Corridor, as per international agreements.”